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Boy, 16, found guilty of hammer murder and rape of Viktorija Sokolova, 14

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A teenage boy who inflicted horrific violence to kill a schoolgirl before dumping her body on a park bench has been convicted of rape and murder.

The 16-year-old, who cannot be named because of his age, remained composed in the dock as he was unanimously convicted of murdering Viktorija Sokolova at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

Police believe the boy used a hammer, which has never been found, to carry out a “ferocious and sustained” attack on the 14-year-old victim, whose skull and spine were fractured.

The trial was told Lithuanian-born Viktorija was lured to Wolverhampton’s West Park late on 11 April after being contacted by the boy on Facebook Messenger.

After the killing, the youth was caught on CCTV as he attempted to cover up the offence by hiding clothing.

He also deleted Facebook messages and hurled his victim’s phone towards a lake.

The boy initially denied meeting Viktorija and refused to give evidence, claiming he suffered from learning difficulties.

When questioned by detectives, he claimed his Facebook account had been hacked – before changing his story and claiming consensual sex had taken place at the park, where he had left Viktorija unharmed.

At the start of the trial prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC said Viktorija’s partially-clothed body was found by a dog-walker at about 7am on 12 April.

The attack happened in West Park, Wolverhampton
Image:
The attack happened in West Park, Wolverhampton

Mr Rees told the jury: “The post-mortem examination of her body revealed that she had been subjected to a sustained and ferocious attack to the head, which involved a minimum of 21 blows.

“The force of the attack was such that it caused multiple fractures of the underlying skullcap and her facial skeleton.

“In short, to put it into lay-person’s terms, her head had been smashed in.”

The jury heard that Viktorija had a turbulent relationship with her parents, who struggled to control her.

Before her death, she had been reported to police as a missing person after spending nights away from home, staying at friends’ homes.

CCTV footage played in court showed the boy was carrying a backpack, and changed his trousers, while in the park between 10.44pm on 11 April and 12.44am on 12 April.

After the case, Detective Inspector Caroline Corfield said: “The impact on Viktorija’s family has been huge.

“It’s impossible to imagine what it is like to learn of the murder of your child, then to hear the horrific details of that murder – which are inescapable because they have to be presented in court.

“But in this particular case the defence pointed the finger of blame very specifically at Viktorija’s parents – they were asked in court whether they had murdered Viktorija.”

Viktorija’s mother and stepfather Karolina Valantiniene and Saidas Valantinas, who had reported her missing, were eliminated from the inquiry at an early stage using CCTV footage, Ms Corfield said.

Her parents were called to give evidence after jurors heard that microscopic traces of Mr Valantinas’ semen were found on Viktorija’s underwear, believed to be from innocent transfer from clothing to clothing.

The boy, who was cleared of sexual penetration of a corpse, faces an automatic life sentence when he is sentenced on 22 February.

High Court judge Mr Justice Jeremy Baker adjourned the case for psychiatric reports and told the boy: “As has been explained to you there is only one sentence which can be imposed upon you.

“However, I do have to consider the appropriate minimum term that you will have to serve, and for that purpose I am going to ask for various pieces of information about you.”

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