Amid gasps and tears in the packed courtoom in Perugia, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were last night found guilty by an Italian jury of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher.
After a trial lasting nearly a year, conducted in the full glare of publiciy, the jury took 13 hours to bring in their verdict. Knox, 22, and Sollecito, 25, were given long sentences for the crime and ordered to pay huge sums of compensation to the family of the Leeds university student who come from Surrey,
Knox never took the witness stand during the trial though she made an emotional closing appeal, in Italian, to try to counter the impression that she was a cold-hearted killer.
It is still not clear what the motive for the crime was though Italian police think that a combination of weird sex games and a drug transaction that went wrong lay at the root of the the bloody events in a student flat in 2007. A third man, Rudy Guede, described as a small time drug-dealer, was also convicted of the muder last year.
The bizarre goings on among a privileged set of ex-patriates had echoes of Patricia HIghsmith's novel and Jude Law film, The Talented Mr Ripley in which the decadent lifestyles of privileged youth led to the Ripley character get away with murder. Knox was not so fortunate. Her family, who have protested her innocence throughout, have already siad they will appeal and poured scorn on the entire Italian judicial process..
The court ordered Knox and Sollecito to pay one million euros to Miss Kercher's mother and the same amount to her father.Her siblings would each receive 800,000 euros, and Knox Knox was told she must also pay 40,000 euros compensation to local barman Patrick Lumumba, for falsely accusing him of the murder.