Fiona McKeown: Happy my ordeal has come to an end
Fiona McKeown reacts to 10-year sentence awarded to her daughter Scarlett Keeling's killer, Samson D'Souza.
Moments after the court pronounced the quantum of punishment against Samson D'Souza for the murder of UK national Scarlett Keeling in Goa in 2008, her mother Fiona McKeown spoke to mid-day from Bradworthy, North Devon, UK. "I am happy this ordeal is coming to an end. I want to know if he will appeal, only then will I get closure. The CBI and prosecution worked hard along with Vikram Varma [her lawyer]."
On Friday, justice R Dhanuka and justice Prithivraj Chavan awarded 10 years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2.60 lakh, to be paid as compensation to the victim's mother. If D'Souza is unable to pay the fine, another three years will be added to his sentence. "The convict was in tears soon after hearing the sentence. He was taken into judicial custody and taken to Modern Central Jail, Colvale, North Goa," said Varma.
He added, "It was during the course of the argument that I requested the court that the IPC provisions might be treated with leniency. However, as the crime had been committed with full consciousness towards a child, no leniency should be shown under the Goa Children Act."
Meanwhile, CBI special prosecutor Ejaz Khan argued, "The crime committed by the accused was serious in nature, involving ten years rigorous imprisonment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and causing hurt by means of poison, etc. and three years each for destruction of evidence and under the Goa's Children Act. Therefore no leniency should be shown." Khan further argued that D'Souza was fully aware of his crime, yet he pleaded not guilty and put the judicial system through the over-a-decade-long trial proceedings.
Advocate Shailendra Bobe, who represented D'Souza, in his argument told the court that the accused was married and had a daughter and was the sole earning member of his family (he works as a swimming instructor). Varma said, "Fiona is happy with the sentencing, knowing that D'Souza will go through rigorous imprisonment and perhaps Goa will be a little safer with such a punishment."
Speaking about why crimes against foreigners go unsolved, he said, "It is the poor conviction rate in crimes against foreign nationals that gives confidence to criminals to molest, assault, rape, or even murder them, knowing they will get away with it. In a number of cases, the local police refuse to register an FIR and in serious cases like murder they treat it as accidental death and register the offence under the Criminal Procedure Code."
Advice to foreign nationals
According to Varma, "Foreign nationals would be advised to interact with their consulates or representatives of their consulates in India immediately if they find themselves victims of any criminal act. On their own, they won't be able to interact with the local police. It is high time that the Goa state government sets up an effective formal structure to assist foreign tourists who become victims of crime under one roof," said Varma.
"The punishment given to the accused is just and appropriate. The high court has taken into consideration the theory of compensation to the victim and has passed an order that the fine amount is to be paid to the mother of the Scarlett Keeling."
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