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Savage attack left people sickened

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WITNESSES felt physically sick when they saw Elizabeth Roussel's head being kicked like a football by another woman during a prolonged attack in Town.

WITNESSES felt physically sick when they saw Elizabeth Roussel's head being kicked like a football by another woman during a prolonged attack in Town. Joanne Baker, 20, and Layla Germain, 17, yesterday admitted a joint charge of manslaughter ' the unlawful killing of married mother-of-two Mrs Roussel, 41.

Presenting the prosecution case, HM Procureur Nik van Leuven said that early on Friday 25 June 2004 the victim was subjected to vicious, sustained and repeated attacks. These first occurred near the Picquet House, then in Fountain Street and Church Square and later in Market Street.

Initially, both young women had kicked Mrs Roussel as she lay helpless on the ground.

Unemployed mother-of-one Baker continued the attacks and Germain, 16 at the time, remained with her throughout, her presence and hostility involving her in the continued violence.

The victim sustained two broken ribs, one puncturing her lung and leading to air in her chest cavity, pneumonia and, ultimately, death three days later. A pathologist attributed the fatality to injuries resulting from blunt-force trauma to the chest.

The Crown accepted guilty pleas to manslaughter on the basis that it could not satisfy the court that the defendants specifically intended to cause grievous bodily harm, which would be required to prove murder, with which they were originally charged.

It presented the case as a joint enterprise ' although the physical attacks by Germain ended earlier than Baker's.

There was a history of ill-feeling between the Germain and Roussel families ' they had been neighbours on a housing estate between 1994 and 1999.

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The main source of the animosity was an alleged incident of child abuse, but there was no known history of direct personal animosity between the deceased and either defendant.

On Thursday 24 June, Mrs Roussel, known as 'Lizzie' and a frequent visitor to her GP, was in good health with no evidence of any pre-existing rib injuries, the court heard.

She went to the bar at the Yacht Hotel at about 7.30pm with her daughter, Emma De La Haye.

It was the night of the Euro 2004 football match between England and Portugal. After watching the first half, they left and met later at the Bankers Draught. Mrs Roussel was said to be in a great mood, excited and jumping about while watching the match.

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Both left and went to Les Folies d'Amour nightclub, where the daughter met boyfriend Graeme Harrison.

When Miss De La Haye left, at about midnight, she recognised Baker and Germain outside with bottles of the alcopop WKD. Germain was heard to say 'Look at the state of that' and Miss De La Haye felt something hit the inside of a knee and saw an empty bottle bounce in front of her. A verbal altercation ensued.

Germain asked Mr Harrison: 'Do you know what you're letting yourself in for?' before making allegations against Miss De La Haye, relating to the history between the families.

Germain next threw a bottle, which smashed in front of Miss De La Haye, before grabbing her hair and swinging her around to the ground and kicking her in the stomach.

As the couple walked off, a witness alleged he heard the defendants say something about 'getting some woman'.

At about 12.20am on the Friday Mrs Roussel left the club with a male friend in a good mood, but drunk.

As Miss De La Haye and Mr Harrison walked along the seafront, she saw that Mrs Roussel and her friend were behind them. Germain and Baker were further back, also coming along the Quay.

At the pedestrian crossing at the bottom of Cornet Street there was an argument with three male youths, which developed into pushing and shoving.

Mrs Roussel tried to separate her male friend and a youth. Her worried daughter urged her mother to get in a car but she insisted that she was going back to the Yacht.

The car drove off and the girls focused their attention on Mrs Roussel, with Germain making an accusation about a family member before pulling her to the ground. Germain then laid into her ' kicking her in the head some five or six times, the court heard.

Traffic stopped and Mrs Roussel was heard screaming and 'crying her eyes out'.

A witness saw a girl repeatedly kick her in the face with great force ' it made him feel sick.

Mrs Roussel was next seen in the road in Fountain Street ' Baker was seen running at her and kicking her in the area of the head at least four or five times.

It was alleged that before the attack, Mrs Roussel had made insulting and derogatory remarks about Baker's fitness as a mother.

Another witness, who felt physically sick after seeing the victim in a foetal position being kicked violently up to five times, said: 'It was as though she was running and kicking a football. I was astounded and couldn't believe that a woman could do this to another woman.'

Another witness saw Baker walk away laughing.

Mrs Roussel had a cut on her bottom lip and blood coming out of the corner of her mouth. She was upset and wanted to go to hospital.

Baker continued to assault her ' kicking her in the back four or five times ' before attacking her again near the telephone kiosks in Church Square, bobbing from one side to the other and kicking her in the ribs three or four times.

Mr Harrison had remained with Mrs Roussel but had gone over to a youth who had fallen into the road at the bottom of Cornet Street.

He had tried to fend the attackers off but had been hampered by having to support Mrs Roussel at the same time.

He decided to take her to a friend's flat above Quik Bite takeaway in the Bordage.

Both defendants then ran at them outside Beekers in Market Street and Baker kicked out again.

A sobbing Mrs Roussel told them to go away and leave her alone. Police were called at about 12.45am and they found her frightened and extremely distressed, complaining of a broken back.

Shortly afterwards, ambulance personnel found her writhing around the floor screaming in pain ' she was taken to hospital suffering injured ribs, chest pains and facial bruising.

She was drunk, abusive and aggressive and she was kept in.

No rib fractures were seen on an X-ray taken later that day.

Her attackers had been seen running down steps at the bottom of Market Street ' police found them in the back of a car on the Crown Pier at about 12.50am. Both were arrested on suspicion of assault and cautioned.

Germain said: 'Yes, I did it' then later 'She hit me, so I hit her'.

Both were released from custody and bailed to return to the police station at a later date.

Baker went to the hospital to have some injuries from a separate incident examined and a visitor was in the waiting room when Germain approached and said: 'I've just come to see Lizzie, to see the damage I've done'.

She claimed that she had head-butted Mrs Roussel and that she had fallen like a sack of potatoes.

Mrs Roussel's condition deteriorated on the Sunday and surgical emphysema was diagnosed ' one of her lungs was not taking in air properly. Her level of consciousness deteriorated and an X-ray showed fractures.

Doctors agreed to transfer her to intensive care.

At 7.50am on Monday her heart slowed and blood pressure disappeared. After attempts to resuscitate her failed, she was pronounced dead at 8.19am.

The girls were arrested on suspicion of murder the same day.

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