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'My world fell apart the day she died': Mother speaks out as Viktorija's killer is jailed

By John Scott | Wolverhampton | Crime | Published: | Last Updated:

The mother of tragic teenager Viktorija Sokolova told movingly of her loss as the girl’s murderer was taken away to start at least 19 years behind bars.

Karolina Valantiniene and daughter Viktorija Sokolova, inset, who was murdered in West Park

Karolina Valantiniene revealed: “My world fell apart the day she died. I could barely comprehend what the detectives were saying. I could not eat or sleep. I wanted to hide away. I cried out all my tears and my heart was torn to pieces.

“She had loads of beautiful dreams and then someone comes to see you at work and tells you she has gone forever. I wanted to die together with her.

“My husband has been a great support for me. I had many questions and no answers.

Viktorija's mother and stepfather Saidas Valantinas outside Wolverhampton Crown Court

"Why are there such terrible people on earth? Someone tried to raise his hand against her and took her from me. Why?”

“We were a family, now there are only two of us. Viktorija will never be replaced and will always be missed dearly.

"She will remain in our hearts forever. We will never be given the opportunity to have grandchildren because this has been taken from us.”

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Teenage killer

The defendant, who came from the Middle East and is now aged 17 but cannot be identified, was a paranoid schizophrenic who had suffered educational and emotional deprivation but had not displayed violent or aggressive tendencies before the fateful night of the murder. He was also hooked on porn.

The murder scene

Mr Adam Kane QC, defending, maintained: “He was a very unwell, emotionally impoverished young man with a complex past full of poverty and neglect.

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“The teenager had been seen walking naked around the streets and when arrested he was dishevelled and hearing voices.”

WATCH: Final images of Viktorija on CCTV

This video shows Viktorija in Wolverhampton on the morning of April 11, shopping with friends in the city later in the day and on her way to West Park, where she was killed late that night.

CCTV shows Viktorija Sokolova's final moments

The murderer was 16 at the time of the crime on April 11 last year and had no previous convictions when he attacked her with such savagery it stunned experienced murder squad police officers.

The killer had not been at school for a year and was under the care of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. It is feared he had stopped taking medication prescribed for depression and anxiety when he turned to murder.

Safeguarding

His victim was a vulnerable, head-strong 14-year-old who had been skipping school, smoking drugs, drinking alcohol and having sex.

Wolverhampton Safeguarding Board is carrying out a Serious Case Review into the way the case was handled by various organisations and expects to publish its findings in the summer.

Balloons tied to West Park in memory of Viktorija, who was born in Lithuania
Photos of Viktorija tied to fencing around West Park

Social workers were making weekly checks on the family who started talking to a Safeguarding Hub worker about their concern at the way their daughter was staying out at night in parks near their Mostyn Street, Whitmore Reans home in June 2017. These included West Park where the murder took place. An early intervention police officer was also involved with the case.

Meanwhile police were investigating an alleged assault by her mother on Viktorija, known as Tori, after the girl stole £250 from her stepfather and ran away.

The mother traced her to Staveley Park where the pair clashed four days before the murder when the girl refused to come home. Officers had already interviewed her about the theft.

Facebook messages

The murderer lured 14-year-old Viktorija to West Park less than a week after renewing communication with her through Facebook Messenger.

He claimed to have left her at the park in good health following ‘consensual’ sex but his deletion of incriminating material from his iPhone shortly after the killing undermined that.

Forensic experts taking evidence from the scene

Two mobiles were found when police arrested him at his home two days after the murder. Analysis of his iPhone revealed that after the murder he removed the message content of Facebook Messenger along with calls to and from Viktorija and sex inspired searches made by him.

A minute later the other mobile was used to check ‘how to delete a Facebook account permanently on an iPhone’ like his.

CCTV filmed him approaching West Park just a couple of minutes after ringing Viktorija to say he had left his house. He was wearing Adidas Gazelle trainers with a tell-tale hexagonal lattice pattern on the sole which matched footprints left in blood at the scene of the murder.

Full coverage of the trial:

He was filmed carrying a backpack when he arrived at West Park at about 10.44pm just a few minutes before the victim. She was last seen alive on CCTV heading for the park at 10.47pm.

Around two hours later the murderer left still carrying the bag but was now wearing different coloured trousers. Despite the ferocity of the attack police were not able to find any blood stained clothing.

A wall of floral tributes left at West Park

Viktorija’s blood was splattered onto the back wall of the pavilion because she had been struck while lying in a large pool of her own blood.

A forensic expert said it was likely that, in those circumstances, the lower part of the culprit could be bloodstained.

CCTV evidence suggested the clothing worn by him during the attack was in a back pack dumped after the murder and never found. The murder weapon, thought to have been a hammer, or something similar, is also still missing.

John Scott

By John Scott
Reporter/News Feature Writer

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