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Cops may charge me: Scarlette's mom

MacKeown is worried at the possibility of Goa police charging her with neglect for leaving her daughter alone.
Reuters | By Bappa Majumdar, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 12, 2008 08:09 PM IST

The mother of a British teenager, who was raped and murdered last month in Goa said on Wednesday that she was worried at the possibility of police charging her with neglect for leaving her daughter alone.

Scarlett Keeling, 15, was found dead on a beach in Goa in February, and her mother was away in Karnataka then, according to police.

"I am worried at these reports and the police is deflecting the real issue and taking the focus away by saying that I neglected my daughter which is not true," Fiona MacKeown told Reuters from Goa.

"She was not alone and was under the care of a very responsible person. The police is only trying to cover up the case and I don't have any faith in them."

A police officer said charging MacKeown for neglect was a possibility but declined to say anything more.

"There are provisions under Indian laws to charge her with neglect," said Kishan Kumar, a senior police officer handling the case.

"That is a possibility, but we are not saying anything more now".

After Scarlett's death, police said the teenager had drowned after taking drugs, but changed their statement after her mother complained and a second autopsy suggested she had been raped and murdered.

They also arrested a man suspected of raping Keeling.

Police officers said they were planning to take X-rays of Scarlett's bones to determine the exact age of the teenager, which her mother said will only delay the case further.

On Tuesday, Goa's chief minister, Digambar Kamat also accused MacKeown of neglecting Scarlett, while speaking to reporters.

Under Goa's child protection laws, neglecting a minor is a serious offence and carries a prison term of upto six months and a fine, officials said.

Keeling's case is also the latest to highlight the safety of tourists in India.

Police have suggested Scarlett was perhaps a regular drug user, which her mother said was incorrect.

"She was not a regular drug user and was actually a very happy teenager," MacKeown said by telephone from Goa.

"We were a very close family and they are just trying to blacken our names."

Fiona MacKeown also insisted her daughter had been raped and killed, and that the two autopsy reports were similar, but police had suppressed evidence.

The first autopsy also revealed bruises all over Keeling's body, that her mouth was stuffed with sand and that she did not have enough saltwater in her lungs to indicate drowning.

"They have just added the word homicide in the second autopsy, nothing else."

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