A 16-year-old girl from Hackney has been sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering another teenager with an afro comb.
Rebecca Douglas, who can now be named, was 15 at the time of the attack. She was convicted of murder at the Old Bailey last month and sentenced today. The judge ordered she serve a minimum term of ten years in prison for the attack.
The Old Bailey heard that Douglas attacked Julie Sheriff after an argument in May last year. An afro comb was taken from the victim’s hair and used as a weapon in the attack which took place in South West London.
A witness said Douglas attempted to stab the victim in the collarbone before stabbing her in the temple. Julie reportedly made a sound like “when you kill a goat back home”.
Julie was in a coma for five months following the attack and never recovered from the injuries and swelling to her brain. She died in September.
Douglas was initially arrested for grievous bodily harm but was re-arrested and charged with murder following Julie’s death.
During sentencing, Judge Nicholas Cooke said to Douglas: “Your victim died a long, lingering death some months after you attacked her.”
He went on: “You took possession of the pintail comb and struck out in fury.”
Jonathan Kinnear QC, for Douglas, said the girl had suffered a violent childhood and had not meant to kill the victim. Douglas had been sleeping rough with friends.
Julie’s father, Raouf, had moved the family to the UK from Sierra Leone in 2006. In a statement to the court he said: “The result of seeing my beautiful, bubbly, brilliant daughter bedridden and in a vegetative state, has left me extremely depressed.
“The attack on my daughter was a wicked, savage and senseless attack, which not only took my daughters life, but deprived me and my entire family and this, will always hurt me.”
Mr Sheriff told the Evening Standard on Wednesday: “I am left to wonder why I brought my daughter to the UK. I was the one who brought her here and if I hadn’t she would still be alive. I almost feel that it was me who stabbed her. I am emotionally, physically and psychologically traumatised.”
At the trial, Judge Cooke warned parents about the danger of the kind of comb used in the attack.
\He said: “We heard evidence that a pintail comb can be used as a lethal weapon. We heard it can be worn in the hair as a fashion accessory. It can be as effective a killing instrument as a stiletto knife. It is not a very nice thing to have in your hair.”