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Four Convicted In Torture, Burning Death Of Teen-Ager

December 18, 1993 GMT

MANCHESTER, England (AP) _ Four people were convicted Friday of torturing and burning a teen-age girl to death in northern England in a dispute over a coat.

Judge Francis Potts called the 1992 slaying of 16-year-old Suzanne Capper ″as appalling a murder as it is possible to imagine.″

Capper was held captive for nearly a week, tied to a bed, beaten and tortured, then driven to the countryside, doused with gasoline and set on fire. She was found wandering nearby and died four days later in in a hospital.

The judge sentenced three of the defendants to life in prison for the murder. A fourth defendant, who is 17, was given an indeterminate sentence for the murder because of his youth, plus 15 years in jail for false imprisonment and conspiracy.

Two other defendants were cleared of Capper’s murder but convicted of false imprisonment.

Police said the attack was triggered by an argument over a coat Capper had that belonged to one of the defendants.

″Each of them were trying to outdo each other in the various acts of torture they could perpetrate,″ Detective Inspector Peter Wall told Press Association, the national news agency.

″Then they got to the stage where as a group they decided they had gone too far and realized if she was released they would go to prison for a very long time.″

The defendants were described as unemployed drifters, petty criminals, car thieves and drug abusers who congregated at the Manchester home of one of the defendants. Capper attended a nearby school but often played truant, using tahe house as a refuge, according to testimony.

Convicted of Capper’s murder were Jean Powell, 26, her estranged husband Glyn Powell, 29, Bernadette McNeilly, 24, and Anthony Dudson, 17.

Jeffrey Leigh, 27, was sentenced to 12 years in jail for false imprisonment. Powell’s brother, Clifford Pook, 18, was given a 15-year sentence for false imprisonment and conspiracy.