Life

Taniya Dutta 


The desperate mother of British schoolgirl Scarlett Keeling, who was found dead on an Indian beach nine years ago, has started a crowdfunding page to raise a £20,000 reward in her ‘last chance’ to find the killer.

Fiona Mackeown has been fighting a long running campaign to get justice for 15 year old Scarlett after a series of blunders in the investigation of her death on the tourist beach in Goa in February 2008.

Two men were accused of plying her with drugs and leaving her on the beach where she subsequently drowned but they were cleared of the charges by a court last September.

MacKeown, 53, started the crowdfunding page on justgiving.com this week and has appealed to people to donate to help fund the reward.

Both Fiona and her lawyer Vikram Verma are hoping the reward would help encourage witnesses to come forward after the India’s Central Bureau of Investigation decided to appeal the men’s acquittal last month.

PIC FROM CATERS NEWS 

Fiona, from Bideford, Devon wrote on the page: “I think this is my last chance to find witnesses that saw Scarlett on the night she died, there are too many gaps.

“I am not prepared to give up on Scarlett , she was a good girl who enjoyed and was looking forward to her life.

“If we succeed in getting justice for Scarlett we will be the first . This will open the gateway for others who I am in contact with who have also had loved ones murdered in Goa and been treated appallingly by the authorities.

“I just want the truth.”

The bruised body of the teenager, who was holidaying with her mother and family in India, was found on the popular Anjuna beach in the north of the small Indian tourist state of Goa on February 18th, 2008.

Samson D’Souza, 36, a barman and Placido Carvalho, 47, an alleged drug dealer, who had spent the evening drinking with the teenager, were arrested on suspicion of plying her with drugs, raping and leaving her unconscious on the beach where she subsequently drowned.

After initial investigation by state police, the case was transferred to CBI who are the country’s premier investigation agency. Charge sheets were filed against both in March 2010.

PIC FROM CATERS NEWS

But after eight years of investigation and court hearings, on September last year, a children’s court had cleared both of them of the charges.

Fiona added: “The police and Government in Goa tried to cover up the murder saying it was a drowning accident and denying there was injuries to support my claim she was murdered.

“Scarlett grew up swimming in the sea off the coast of Cornwall and Devon and was a strong swimmer who respected the sea.

“While on my way to the place she was found three days later I found Scarlett’s underwear and sandals on the beach, one of the sandals were broken. I was then told by the boys in the shack near where she was found that she was raped and murdered.

PIC FROM CATERS NEWS 

“I then met the hero of our story Advocate Vikram Varma who over the last nine years has committed to guiding and supporting us during this long struggle for justice and more. ”

Mr Verma said: “This is our last chance to get justice and we are trying everything on our part to get it. We feel if witnesses come forward, we may get justice.

“Two persons had approached us when the body of Scarlett was found. A thin man in his forties had tried to speak with Fiona on the beach where her body was found but at that moment, she was in no sense to speak with anyone.

PIC FROM CATERS NEWS

“Another person had stopped her to speak but she was too devastated and engaged with police that she could not speak with him. We had given their references to the police but they never tried to identify them.

“We had hoped they would try to approach us again but they disappeared in the last eight years. Now we are hoping that with the money as a reward, we can motivate these men to come forward and speak up.”