Teenager faces life in prison for the murder of Viktorija Sokolova
A teenage boy has been convicted of the rape and murder of ‘bright and happy’ young teen Viktorija Sokolova, who was brutally attacked after innocently arranging to meet her killer in West Park, Wolverhampton earlier this year.
Viktorija was just 14 when she was found on the morning of Thursday 12 April by a dog walker, semi-naked and bent over a park bench. She had been brutally raped and bludgeoned with a weapon, possibly a hammer, causing massive head injuries and a fractured spine.
The park remained closed for a week as police launched an investigation and the community rallied to support Viktorija’s family and friends. Floral tributes and hundreds of balloons were tied to the park gates in memory of Lithuanian-born Viktorija.
Her mother and step-father continue to grieve for their loss. They said: “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.”
On 11 April, Viktorija, who moved to this country in 2011, was with friends and had arranged, through Facebook Messenger, to meet a boy later the same evening. Although her friends advised her not to go, Vikorija assured them he was a friend and left at 10.40pm. Sadly they did not see her alive again.
CCTV recovered by detectives showed Viktorija heading towards the Kingsland Road entrance to the park, just a few minutes after a male figure was tracked from Bright Street walking towards the same entrance. The same male figure, wearing distinctive Adidas trainers, left the park around two hours later. Viktorija’s body was found later that morning.
Detective Inspector Caroline Corfield, from the force’s homicide unit, said: “It was clear that the scene of Viktorija’s attack was a large wooden pavilion near to the boating lake, known locally as the ‘black house’. Her blood-stained baseball cap and earrings were found there and also, horrifically, three of her teeth which points to the violence of the attack. Her body had then been dragged to a bench some 150 metres away, where she was found.
“We also found footprints in Viktorija’s blood on the floor in the pavilion, the pattern of which were identified as those of Adidas Gazelle trainers, the same footwear later seen worn by Viktorija’s killer as he walked to and from the park.”
Officers worked around the clock on the investigation and a 16-year-old boy was arrested from his home address the next day. He initially denied having any recent contact with Viktorija and suggested his Facebook account had been hacked.
DI Corfield added: “Following the murder the teenager immediately set about destroying any evidence which would link him to Viktorija. He threw her phone across the duck pond in the park, concealed the mobile phone he used to contact her behind a wardrobe at his home address and deleted all messages between himself and Viktorija. He researched how to permanently delete a Facebook account from an iPhone and disposed of the footwear and clothing he wore to the park that night. This was all done before the discovery of Viktorija’s body.”
On Sunday 15 April the teenager, who cannot be named due to his age, was charged with the rape and murder of Viktorija and by trial he admitted meeting and having sex with her, but said he did not kill her, however a jury took just over seven hours to find him guilty of both charges after a three week-long trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court. He will be sentenced on 22 February.
DI Corfield continued: “The murder of Viktorija shocked the local community and the wider general public, not least because of the ages of those involved.
“As many young teens do, Viktorija was testing boundaries and could be wilful, but she was a popular girl and had the love and support of her family and friends. She certainly had her whole life ahead of her, but sadly that was brutally cut short, and nothing can compensate for her loss.
“I am so proud of everyone who worked incredibly hard on this deeply distressing case. Nothing can compensate for the loss of Viktorija and her family have been put through an unimaginable ordeal, but they have been hoping that justice would come through in the end and I am pleased we could at least give them that.”
Linda Sanders, Independent Chair of Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board, said: "This was an horrific crime and our thoughts are with the family and friends of Viktorija Sokolova.
"Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board is currently undertaking a multi-agency Serious Case Review which is looking at what involvement, if any, local agencies had with Viktorija and her family, and is seeking to establish whether any lessons can be learned which may improve the way they address potential risks to other children in the future.
“It is planned that the Serious Case Review will be published next year."
Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board is a partnership of all the main organisations that work in the city to support children, young people and their families.