Scarlett Keeling murder: Not happy with Mannion, he is a coward, says Fiona

Updated: Jul 19, 2019, 09:53 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

Key eyewitness of the Scarlett Keeling murder refused to testify during trial even though he had witnessed the girl being drugged and abused by the accused

Scarlett Keeling murder: Not happy with Mannion, he is a coward, says Fiona
British national and key witness Michael Mannion (right) looks on as Fiona Mckeown speaks to the media outside Porvorim police station in Goa on March 17, 2008. Pic /Sajjad Hussain /AFP/ Getty Images

The key eyewitness in the Scarlett Keeling murder case – British national Michael Mannion – who had seen the girl get sexually abused at the Anjuna beach shack, had refused to testify during the trial of the case. Speaking about it from UK, Fiona Mckeown, Scarlett's mother said, "I don't know whether he was having a problem in general or if he was scared. He was right there but he did not stop accused Samson D'Souza from abusing Scarlett. The least he could have done was to testify in the case, as he was a crucial witness for the prosecution. I'm not happy with him. He is a coward."

Mannion, a carpenter by profession, is based in England, UK. In order to get him testified in the case, the prosecution had even sought permission from the court during the course of trial stating that he had seen the accused assaulting the girl before she was found dead.

Fiona's lawyer, Vikram Varma, said, "I had asked the Goa police to record Mannion's statement under section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code. It was done before a magistrate. But later the trial court said that Mannion's testimony before the magistrate could not be considered admissible in the case, without he being cross-examined."

When asked whether the division bench of high court considered Mannion's statement, Varma said, "We won't be able to comment on this now as the judgment copy will be given to us only after the sentence is pronounced on Friday."

Last Seen Theory

He further said, "In criminal law, we have a concept called 'Last seen Theory'. The onus is on the last person seen with the victim to give a reasonable explanation of what happened. In this case, Samson was the last person to be spotted with Scarlett. Mannion was in the shack when all of it happened. He saw Samson trying to hold her back forcibly when she tried to flee. He was also witness to the abuse she faced, which happened 45 minutes before she was found dead on the beach."

"Secondly, one of the waiters had identified Samson's slipper, which was found next to her body. In his testimony the waiter had said that Samson asked him to collect the slipper and give it to him, which he initially refused to do, but eventually had to as the accused threatened him. These are circumstances for which Samson had to give an explanation," Varma added.

CBI in England

During the trial, senior CBI officer Nandkumar Nair and Special Public Prosecutor Ejaz Khan had sought permission from court to get Mannion testified through a videoconference.

According to CBI officers, Mannion, who left the shack between 3.30 am and 3.45 am, had asked Samson to drop Scarlett home. He had even seen Samson and Placido giving her drugs. The officers went to England between September 26-29, 2016, and with the help of the nodal officers at Scotland Yard traced Mannion. Initially he refused to visit India for security reasons and agreed to testify on camera, but later he refused to provide any evidence.

'Unable to be in Goa'

Meanwhile, Fiona said that she could not arrange for her travel to India to be in court for the sentencing on Friday. "I want to be there, but I am not being able to get the travel plans in place. If the court proceedings continue till next week then I can make it or else there is no point in going if I miss out on the verdict," she said.

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