Girl's murder 'was planned days before'

The shocking murder of a teenager whose body was set alight had been planned just days before she was found, a court has heard.

Debra Carne's burning body was found in July 2002, two miles from her home in Swan Court, Sible Hedingham.

It has been alleged that the 17-year-old was asphyxiated before she was set alight by her killers.

Steven Wood (23) and Nicole Hollinshead (19) both of Halstead, and Kerry Bauer (21) of Braintree, all deny murder and conspiracy to inflict grievous bodily harm.

Hollinshead also denies impeding the arrest of others by burning items belonging to Miss Carne.

Emma Last (18), formerly of the Foyer Hostel, Braintree, has pleaded guilty to murder and will be sentenced later.

A jury at Chelmsford Crown Court heard last week from Gemma Aldridge, who lived at the Foyer Hotel with Last and Bauer.

She told the court of a "serious" conversation between the defendants when plans were made to throw petrol over Miss Carne which could be set alight.

Giving evidence, Miss Aldridge (18) said Hollinshead was upset because Miss Carne allegedly told her that she and Wood were in love and had slept together.

"Nicole got extremely upset," said Miss Aldridge.

"Emma got protective of Nicole and started mouthing off about Debra. Steven tried to calm Nicole down, saying nothing had happened."

The court then heard how the friends conversation started to get more serious.

Miss Aldridge, speaking on a recording to police, said: "Steven said they had a can of petrol in the car, Emma said they would chuck it over her and set fire to that."

Although Hollinshead was said to only want her friends to speak to Miss Carne, Miss Aldridge said it was arranged that Wood would meet the victim as she would not agree to if she knew Last or Bauer would be there.

The court was yesterday due to hear expert scientific testimony about the alleged murder.

The case continues.