Local Goa News

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Scarlett’s mother returns from England looking for closure

Fiona MacKeown, the mother of British teenager Scarlett Keeling allegedly killed in Anjuna in 2008 arrives for the final hearing of the case; two local boys charged with culpable homicide in one of the most high-profile cases in India

PANJIM:  There are many things that remain constant with Fiona MacKeown, even after eight long years. The myriad tattoos on her torso, the necklaces and the rings she wears and the faraway lost look, even as she sits in the office of her closest ally and friend all through these years, in Goa, her legal advisor, Advocate Vikram Varma. On February 18, 2008 , her world changed, as her daughter Scarlet Keeling, lay dead, bruises on her body, with the police concluding that it was a death by “drowning”, on the waters of the Anjuna beach off the Luis shack.
Her mother, believes that Scarlett was drugged , sexually abused and then victimised leading to her death, with the defense obviously challenging and contesting this. The circumstances that led to her death, some of the statements and Fiona’s own take on the company her

daughter kept and their activities, suggest that there were free and copious consumption of drugs in and around the shacks her daughter frequented. Fiona readily admits that Scarlet, was a victim to this though “she did not touch this stuff before she came to India”. However, these facts do nothing to establish the alleged crime of the accused, in court, but paint a telling picture of the milieu her daughter was enveloped in, in her last days.
Battling her own problems and a wave of accusations against her for being an irresponsible hippy mom and a picture painted of her as a mother who actually encouraged her daughter to slip into the world of drugs and strange men, before she slipped into full adulthood, she now says “I have the courage to fight all this. I’m feeling better and I will not let go”.
In a chat with Herald over a lunch of chicken sandwiches and juice, she said simply “I will not let even a not guilty verdict in this case deter me. I will fight. I will take it to the next level. I will not give up”.
“I do not  agree with the charge sheet that did not put this down as a murder when I have every reason to believe that it is, but again that’s the investigation, but my pet peeve is the way the government dealt with it. It would have never taken so long if they had dealt with this and investigated it the way it should have been.
They made it look as if it was an accident and all her fault (for getting drowned)”. Recalling the days after her death, Fiona, explodes “I should never have been put in a position where I had to go and take photographs of my daughter’s body when she was dead for two weeks (to gather evidence of injuries on her torso to push for  stronger criminal investigation). I felt very let down by the government (of Digambar Kamat) but later I felt very supported by many Goan people”.
Relentless efforts, by her mother Fiona, her friend Dakini Runningbear and Varma, with the support of the local, national and the international media, compelled the government to re-evaluate and register a criminal offence and eventually hand the case over to the CBI, after increasing allegations that the police, in the then Kamat government, were soft towards the local accused and not sympathetic to the foreigner victims family.
Over the next three days, the long trial in the case where the two accused local boys have been charged with culpable homicide (and not murder), will move to a final conclusion in the children’s court, and then the wait for judgment day will commence. But
Fiona is used to waiting when many around her have not. Her own children, half siblings of Scarlet’s, Fiona’s ex-partner and Scarlet’s biological father (who of course did attend her funeral and took her body to the grave after being in the custody of the Coroner in Devon for months), “lead their own lives”.
Fiona, though lives to fight each day, in the quest for justice for her daughter, which brings her back to India and Goa to depose before the CBI, appear in Court or now, just be there for the final hearing’s of the trial of her dead daughters case.
Scarlet died once. Fiona’s soul has died a thousand deaths even as she lives as Scarlet Keeling's mother.

Herald Goa News

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