Teenager acquitted of attempting to murder 10-year-old girl

Teenager acquitted of attempting to murder 10-year-old girl
Teenager acquitted of attempting to murder 10-year-old girl

A teenager has been acquitted of attempting to murder a 10-year-old girl as she walked home from school.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, previously admitted choking and sexually assaulting the girl in Exmouth, Devon, on October 4.

He denied raping the girl - who he did not know - while she was unconscious, and leaving her to die in a stream.

A jury of nine women and three men acquitted the teenager of a charge of attempted murder following a nine-day trial at Bristol Crown Court.

They could not reach verdicts on an alternative charge of choking with intent to commit rape, as well as a charge of rape.

Mr Justice Garnham told the jury: "I will give the prosecution seven days to come to a conclusion as to whether they wish to seek a re-trial in respect of those charges.

"This has not been an easy case and I thank you for your assistance."

The jury began their deliberations at 1.20pm on Wednesday and had been deliberating for 10 hours and 57 minutes when they returned their verdict.

During the trial, they heard how the boy grabbed the girl as she walked home from school.

He restrained her around her neck and walked her to a nearby riverbank, where he said he sexually assaulted her after she fell unconscious.

The boy insisted he checked the girl was breathing and had a pulse, and ensured she woke up before he left the area.

When asked why he carried out the attack, the boy said: "I had extraordinary emotions going through my head.

"I was angry, I was scared, I was depressed, I was sad, amongst other things including loneliness.

"I just wanted someone else - just anybody - to feel at least some of the way I was feeling."

Forensic scientists told the court it was not possible to determine from scientific evidence in the case whether the girl was raped or sexually assaulted.

The boy is due to be sentenced on May 20 at Bristol Crown Court for the charges he previously admitted, depending on whether a re-trial will take place.