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Judge says 10-year-old girl’s death remains mystery four years on

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A judge says the cause of a 10-year-old girl’s death remains a mystery and has criticised a police inquiry (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The cause of the death of a 10-year-old girl whose body was found in her bedroom four years ago remains a mystery, a judge says.

Sir Mark Hedley, who considered evidence at a private trial in the Family Division of the High Court, says he can give “no clear answer” to the question of how the youngster, who lived in London, died.

Social services bosses at Southwark Council asked the judge to make findings in order to help them make decisions about the care of other children in the family.

They argued that the girl had died at the hands of a parent or older brother and suggested that the family had built a “wall of silence” to impede an investigation.

But Sir Mark concluded that the council had “failed to prove its case”.

He criticised a police inquiry and said “opportunities for proper investigation” had been lost.

Sir Mark heard how the girl had been found dead at her home on a Sunday morning in November 2016.

Tests showed she had suffered neck and genital injuries and died of strangulation.

Police investigations proved inconclusive and no-one has been charged in relation to her death.

Sir Mark was the third civil court judge asked to make findings about the cause of the girl’s death.

Appeal judges have overturned two earlier rulings, made by judges based in the Family Division of the High Court in London, and ordered fresh trials.

Several judges had already criticised the police inquiry.

Sir Mark explained his decision in a ruling published on Thursday after a trial staged partly in London and partly online.

The judge said neither the dead girl, nor the family involved, could be identified in media reports of the case.

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