The most bizarre and indeed tragic story on the BBC's local news programme for London tonight was that of Julie Sheriff, a 16 year old girl who was stabbed to death by a fifteen year old over a triviality. At the time of the attack, perpetrator Rebecca Douglas was only 15. Today at the Central Criminal Court she was ordered by Judge Nicholas Cooke to be detained for a minimum of ten years after being convicted of Julie's murder
The murder weapon was the spiked metal handle of a plastic comb.
One might be tempted to draw an analogy with the plate used by Ben Mitchell
to kill Heather Trott in the BBC TV series EastEnders
, if this were not so tragic. There is though a far more telling comparison, with that of the death of 10 year old Damilola Taylor
, because like him, Julie came from strife torn Africa to a "civilised" country only to die on a South London Street. Damilola Taylor came from Nigeria; Julie Sheriff from Sierra Leone.
The most disturbing feature of this case though is not the young age of the killer but her utter callousness. After the attack, Douglas phoned her friends to brag about the deed and said she would go to the hospital and suffocate her victim. Alas, there was no need; Julie spent five months in a coma before she died. The BBC actually played a tape of a message Douglas sent shortly after the attack, and she sounded seriously deranged on it.
The stabbing was carried out with such force that the comb - which actually belonged to Julie - was bent out of shape.