A Goa division bench of the Bombay High Court comprising of Justice RD Dhanuka and Justice Prithviraj Chavan convicted and sentenced 39-year-old Samson D'Souza, in the death of 15-year-old British national Scarlett Keeling, to 10 years imprisonment under Section 8 (ii) of the Goa Children's Act and the following sections of the Indian Penal Code:
The bench overturned the verdict of Goa Children's Court which had acquitted both the accused due to lack of evidence in 2016. Placido Carvalho's, who was the second accused in the case had his acquittal maintained by the High Court.
Scarlett’s body was found at Anjuna Beach in Goa in a semi nude state. She was vacationing in Goa with her mother and siblings. Initially, the police said that the case was one of accidental drowning, but due to media uproar the investigation was handed over to the CBI. The CBI charged D’souza of leaving Scarlett’s body deliberately near the water line, knowing well that she was intoxicated and may drown. The CBI found that both the accused had, between 3:30 AM- 5:30 AM at Luis Shack, given the victim cocaine, ecstasy tablets and beer, with the intention of sexually assaulting her. On acquittal of the accused by the Goa Children’s Court, the CBI filed an appeal before the High Court.
The counsel of the accused Shailendra Bhobe prayed for some leniency regarding the sentence for D’Souza arguing that his daughter was born around the same time as Scarlett's death and since then he has learnt scuba diving and tried to reform himself. Public Prosecutor Ejaz Khan opposed the defence’s submissions and sought life imprisonment for D’Souza.
The defence opposed when Senior Advocate Vikram Verma rose to speak for Scarlett's mother Fiona Mackeown, but Justice Dhanuka saying that the victim’s mother has suffered the most, and allowed him to speak. Fiona had written to the Prime Minister as well seeking justice for her daughter and was running from pillar to post to seek justice, said the counsel.
The Court sentenced D'Souza to 10 years rigorous imprisonment. The bench rejected the request of the defence lawyer to stay the sentence for 12 weeks so that an appeal could be filed before the Supreme Court and directed D'Souza to be shifted to a prison in Colvale, North Goa.