Girl gets 10 years for comb murder

A 16-year-old girl has been given a life sentence for killing a teenager with an Afro comb.

Rebecca Douglas, who was 15 at the time, spiked 16-year-old Julie Sheriff's head with the pointed metal handle.

Douglas, who had been sleeping rough at friends' houses, was ordered to serve a minimum of 10 years after being convicted of murder last month.

The Old Bailey heard that the pintail comb had been taken out of Julie's red weave hair before being used as a lethal weapon in the attack in Battersea, south London, in May last year.

Julie, of Hackney, east London, never recovered from the swelling and bleeding it caused to her brain and died almost five months later, in September.

Judge Nicholas Cooke warned parents to be aware of the dangers to young girls wearing such combs as "fashion accessories".

He said: "We heard evidence that a pintail comb can be used as a lethal weapon. We heard it can be worn in the hair as a fashion accessory. It can be as effective a killing instrument as a stiletto knife. It is not a very nice thing to have in your hair."

Judge Cooke said that in addition to being detained during Her Majesty's pleasure, Douglas had been in custody for 15 months.

He said she killed Julie in "hate-filled fury" after the girls argued in the street about mobile phone messages. Each girl gave as good as she got until Douglas took the comb, which a friend said Julie was in the habit of wearing in her hair.

Jonathan Kinnear QC, for Douglas, said she had a traumatic and violent childhood. She had not meant to kill Julie.