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West Park murder trial: Mother and stepfather deny killing Viktorija Sokolova

By Marion Brennan | Wolverhampton | Crime | Published:

The mother and stepfather of a teenage girl found beaten to death and half naked in a city park have both denied murdering her.

Karolina Valantiniene and Saida Valantinas arrive at Wolverhampton Crown Court

Karolina Valantiniene and Saidas Valantinas were accused by barristers of being responsible for the death of 14-year-old Viktorija Sokolova during the trial of a 16-year-old youth at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

The jury heard that her stepfather's DNA had been found on the underwear the schoolgirl was wearing on the night she died.

Asked for her reaction, Mrs Valantiniene said she was 'shocked'.

The jury was told of the couple's strained relationship with the rebellious teenager, who smoked, drank alcohol and frequently stayed out at night.

Viktorija Sokolova

She was found raped and murdered at West Park on April 12 after being reported missing by her mother.

Mrs Valantiniene insisted that both she and her husband had gone to bed that night at 10pm and that he was still sleeping beside her when she got up at 3am to go to work.

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Defence lawyer Mr Adam Kane, QC, suggested that she was protecting her husband over the fatal attack on Viktorija.

He also accused her of striking her daughter 'like a male boxer might punch an opponent' and trying to choke her in a clash just days before Viktorija's death after she stole £250 from her stepfather's bank account.

The witness denied both charges, adding: "I have never beaten my daughter."

Karolina Valantiniene

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Mr Jonathan Rees, QC, prosecuting, asked the Lithuanian national, who was speaking through an interpreter, whether she understood what was being suggested to her.

He went on: "Did you kill your daughter?" She replied no. "Did your husband kill your daughter?" She replied 'no, that is nonsense.'

Mr Rees continued: "Were you so cross with Viktorija and the way she behaved that you decided to kill her?"

Mrs Valantiniene responded: "She was my only one daughter and I never used any physical violence against her. It is complete nonsense, no, not at all."

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She admitted breaking Viktorija's SIM card, saying she wanted to sever contact with friends she felt were a bad influence on her daughter, but denied depriving her of food.

"She was my only daughter and even though there were misunderstandings and problems, she still used to hug me and call me 'mummy'. I always thought things would change and everything would be fine."

It comes as Mr Valantinas told the jury he did not know how his DNA came to be on the underwear and jeans worn by Viktorija on the night she died.

Traces of the semen of Mr Valantinas were discovered on both garments when they were recovered from a bin at Wolverhampton’s West Park.

He said to police: “There is nothing strange about that bearing in mind that we lived under the same roof as a family.

"We were using the same bathroom and toilet and washing our clothes in the same washing machine.”

Tributes gathered outside West Park in the days following her death

A forensic science expert has told Wolverhampton Crown Court there could have been an innocent transmission of the DNA when their clothes touched.

Mr Valantinas dismissed as ‘nonsense’ a claim from Mr Adam Kane QC, defending, that he had sexually assaulted and murdered Viktorija – who was bludgeoned to death by over 20 blows, some of which were delivered with a hammer-like weapon, in the park’s wooden pavilion.

The barrister suggested during cross examination: “There was a good deal of distrust between you and Viktorija wasn’t there? She was scared of you.” The witness replied: “No.”

Mr Kane continued: “She didn’t think she could build a relationship with you.”

Mr Valantinas retorted: “We always had a relationship.”

The QC then said: “Surely you were furious about her stealing £250 from you.”

The stepfather insisted: “I wasn’t furious.”

Tributes were left in memory of the schoolgirl, known as Tori to friends

Mr Valantinas said he considered looking for Viktorija after she missed her 9pm deadline to come home on April 11 but did not go because he had to get up early for work the following morning. His wife rang the police around 9.20pm.

Mr Kane asked him: “Did you go to look for her? Were you mindful of the CCTV in your road? Did you take care to avoid it?”

Mr Valantinas responded: “I didn’t go anywhere.”

The QC then said: “Is it that you found her in the park and sexually assaulted her?”

The witness replied: “This is nonsense. I deny this completely.”

Mr Kane: “The sexual act was followed by a violent attack. Did you kill her?”

Mr Valantinas maintained once more: “This is nonsense.”

A 16-year-old defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, denies murder, rape and having sex with a dead body.

The trial continues.

Marion Brennan

By Marion Brennan
@Marion_EStar

News and features reporter, specialising in human interest and local history stories.

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