A girl of 13 was used as 'bait' to lure a 'vulnerable' man to his death by friends who then dialed 999 to report the discovery of his beaten up body, a court heard yesterday.
The girl is understood to be the youngest female to be charged with murder since child killer Mary Bell, who was 11 when she was convicted of killing two young boys in Newcastle in 1968.
Shaun Rossington, a 21-year-old who had been diagnosed with a form of autism and was afraid of the dark, stopped breathing after being left face-down and unconscious on grassland close to a Waitrose supermarket in the early hours of the morning.
He had been kicked, stamped on and slashed with a knife or sharp instrument and suffered 26 separate injuries, a jury were told.
The girl, who is now 14, is one of five teenagers and two men charged with murdering Mr Rossington in the attack at Lincoln in June this year.
Wearing a coat and tracksuit, she sat with her solicitor and a 16-year-old co-defendant in seats adjacent to the jury benches yesterday as prosecutor Richard Latham QC outlined the case against the group.
The court was played a recording of the 999 call by another member of the group, a girl who was then 16 and also cannot be identified, in which she told the operator the friends had discovered the body as they walked home.
She said: 'We have found a person. I don't know who he is or anything, but he doesn't seem to be breathing or anything. He's lying on the field face first.'
When the operator then asks her to turn the patient over on to his back, co-defendant Mark Jackson, 20, takes over the call and says his friend 'can't even look at it (the body). She's crying her eyes out'.
Mr Latham told the jury at Nottingham Crown Court that the defendants, 'young as they are', were guilty of a 'deliberate and planned deception of the police investigation.'
The prosecutor said they were all charged with murder on the basis it was a 'joint enterprise.'
He told the jury: 'The prosecution case is that Shaun was lured to the grassed area...and attacked by these defendants lying in wait for him. This was not an accidental meeting.
A psychiatrist concluded his learning difficulties which placed him in the bottom three per cent of the population. He was said to be 'suggestive' and 'naive' and of low intelligence.
The court heard that sometime before the 999 call was made, a local resident had twice encountered Mr Rossington, who was 'breathing heavily', on the grass whilst walking to and from a friends' home nearby. The resident told police he could not rouse the victim and assumed he had been drinking or abusing drugs.
A pathologist later ruled that although Mr Rossington's knife wound to the back and blunt force trauma injuries to his head and body did not kill him outright.
He suggested Mr Rossington had been attacked whilst face down, and, while lying there unconscious, his breathing 'had been compromised, resulting in upper airway obstruction and lack of oxygen, resulting in death'.
Nicholas Shelbourne, 27, and Mark Jackson, 20, both of Lincoln, a 17-year-old girl, two 17-year-old boys, a 16-year-old boy and the girl now aged 14 deny murder. Five of the group also deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
The court heard an examination of the phone used by the 16-year-old girl, who is now 17, suggested the younger girl had been the 'bait' to lure Shaun to his fatal meeting with the gang.
He added that the gang originally intended to meet Shaun outside a Post Office before Mr Rossington is believed to have changed the location.
Referring to the Post Office, Mr Latham added: 'She (the 13-year-old girl) , the bait, was out in the open, the others hidden or in the darkness in the distance.
'During that time she was there she was communicating with Shaun using the 17-year-old's phone.'
The court heard the group were initially treated as witnesses by police. But Mr Latham said their claim to have all been at Shelbourne's home nearby that evening, before four of their number went out and stumbled upon Mr Rossington, had been 'cooked up'.
Over the following days some of them told friends they had set out to beat Mr Rossington up because he had propositioned the 13-year-old for a sex act.
One of the 17-year-old's told his girlfriend the girl had been texted by Mr Rossington asking if she would perform the act on him for £100.
Mr Latham said the teen told his girlfriend: 'They went to meet him to beat him up because she was only a little kid.'
Jackson, meanwhile allegedly confessed to a friend that he had punched a lad for being 'a paedo'.
The case continues.