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Teenagers in online feud accused of paying 14-year-old €20 to murder classmate

Three teenagers are appearing in court accused of planning the murder of a 15-year-old girl through social networking.

Police say the murder was meticulously worked out and planned through social networks.The so-called ‘Facebook murder’ has sent shockwaves through the Netherlands, both for the way it was arranged and the cold-blooded nature of the killing.

Joyce Winsie Hau, 15, was stabbed to death in the hallway of her home in Arnhem on January 14. The suspected killer was a 14-year-old boy, Jing Hua K., from Capelle aan den IJssel. She died five days later in hospital.

Prosecutors say K. was hired by the victim’s best friend, 16-year-old Polly W., and her boyfriend, Wesley, as revenge for comments Winsie made on Facebook and other sites, claiming she was loose with boys.

The argument between the two girls escalated, with other classmates joining in through text messaging and online networks, and eventually culminated in the alleged plot to “teach Winsie a lesson”.

Polly and Wesley are said to have set up a meeting with K. after making contact through the Chinese nightlife circuit and gave him a note with Winsie’s address and details of when she would be home.

On the day of the killing K. went to Winsie’s house, rang the doorbell and asked her father to fetch her. As soon as Chun nam Hau left them alone, K. is said to have lashed out with a knife, fatally wounding Winsie and leaving her father, who ran back into the hallway, badly scarred.

According to the prosecution, K. was paid €20 by his two co-suspects and told that he would himself be killed if he failed to carry out their instructions.

Because of his age K., now 15, is likely to be given a year in jail and psychiatric detention if found guilty of the crime. His two co-accused stand to receive longer sentences in a hearing on Tuesday.

The details of the case, with two children in a provincial town accused of plotting a mafia-style hit on one of their best friends, has raised deep concerns about the behaviour of teenagers and online networking.

Chun nam Hau told news show EenVandaag that it showed the dangers of young people becoming locked away in an online world where their parents are unable to look out for them.

He said: “Watch out for the risks of group behaviour among youths and what they are doing on social media. Little things can so easily get out of hand.

“Parents need to be able to access the sites where they go and chat, otherwise you don’t know what they’re discussing.”

Remko Pijpers, of the My Child Online organisation (Mijn Kind Online), told EenVandaag that parents needed more help and guidance with managing their children’s behaviour online.

He said: “Social media played the role of catalyst, accelerating and magnifying things, and one thing led to another.

“It could have happened offline, but some things happen faster online and come across much worse. It’s important for parents to be able to be there.”