1. ITV Report

Teenager guilty of schoolgirl's park murder

A 16-year-old boy has been found guilty of raping and then brutally murdering a 14-year-old girl after encouraging her to meet him in a secluded place, at night.

We cannot report his name because of his age.

Viktorija Sokolova went to Wolverhampton’s West Park on the evening of the 11th April 2018 to meet a friend she thought she would smoke cannabis with. They’d arranged the meeting via social media, and even messaged each other as they’d left their homes to go to the park.

But when there, that friend murdered the Lithuanian-national, first attacking her in the pavilion they had arranged to meet in, before leaving her body half-naked on a bench 150 metres away to be found by a dog walker the next day.

Viktorija's body was found in West Park, Wolverhampton Credit: BPM Media

Police were able to arrest the killer just hours later. Messages on social media showed that the 16-year-old was the last person Viktorija had had contact with and forensic testing showed that his DNA was on, and in, her body.

The jury were shown CCTV images of the killer walking towards the park, and then away two hours later wearing different trousers. His shoes were the same though, a pair of Adidas Gazelles. Investigations showed the soles of the shoe matched the footprints made in Viktorija’s blood inside the pavilion.

CCTV also showed the killer leaving his house later that evening wearing different clothes and shoes, and returning without the rucksack he had taken with him. Police haven’t been able to find the clothes or shoes he was wearing that night.

The same evening he killed Viktorija, the killer had searched how to delete Facebook, and he had deleted all his messages with Viktorija. His phone was found by police hidden behind a wardrobe.

West Midlands Police say they are convinced the motive for her murder was sexual.

Not at any point [in the messaging] was there any suggestion that there was going to be any sexual motive to the meeting.

There was no other reason to Viktorija's death other than sexual motive.

This was also why he was charged with rape. If Viktorija consented, why was she murdered? It's clear to me the motive was sexual.

– Detective Inspector Caroline Corfield

The killer’s version of events changed from ‘not seeing Viktorija for ages’ when he was first arrested, to saying that she was alive when he left her in the park. His lawyers even used some forensic investigations of her body to suggest that her stepfather had killed her, asking him when he was in the dock. Her stepfather described that as being ‘very rude’ whilst her mother said the allegations are ‘empty words with no proof or evidence.’

Her mother also told the media that ‘It is beyond comprehension that something like that would happen to us. I keep asking God why is something like that happening to us?’