A restaurant waiter who murdered a young woman was jailed for life yesterday – 11 years after her boyfriend was wrongly convicted of her killing.
Shahidul Ahmed strangled 19-year-old shop assistant Rachel Manning after she rejected his sexual advances on her way home from a fancy-dress party in December 2000.
He then bludgeoned her face with a car steering lock in an attempt to make her unrecognisable before hiding her body in undergrowth on a golf course.
Miss Manning’s boyfriend Barri White was convicted of her murder in 2002 and was only freed after a retrial in 2008.
The couple’s friend Keith Hyatt, now 58, spent two and a half years in jail after being found guilty of helping Mr White cover up the murder.
His conviction was also quashed, albeit after serving his sentence.
Ahmed, a father of five, was arrested in 2010 after police matched his DNA to traces left on the steering lock and Miss Manning’s clothes.
Officers had taken a DNA sample six months earlier after arresting him for sexually assaulting a female student.
She had got into his car after mistakenly thinking he was a taxi driver and only managed to escape after a passerby came to her rescue.
Ahmed, 41, who was born in Bangladesh and lived in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, was found guilty at the end of a retrial at Luton Crown Court yesterday. A jury failed to reach a verdict at his first trial in February.
Sentencing him to life imprisonment with the order that he serve a minimum of 17 years, Mr Justice Wilkie said: ‘For almost ten years you lived undetected with the knowledge of what you had done.
‘You must have been aware that two other people, Barri White and Keith Hyatt, had suffered the agony of being accused, convicted and imprisoned for offences of which they were wholly innocent and although this was eventually put right, nothing can bring back either Rachel’s lost life or their lost years. Fortunately, out of the misfortune of the woman attacked by you in 2010, the police were at last able to identify you as the person who had attacked her, then killed her.
‘You took out your anger and frustration on her much-loved face and disfigured it by great violence, having sought to dispose of her where she would not be found for a sufficient time to enable you to cover your tracks.’
He told Miss Manning’s parents: ‘No one can imagine the grief you must have suffered. I can only admire the stoicism you have shown in this court and convey to you my profound sympathy over the loss of your daughter Rachel and everything that has happened since then until today.’
On the night of December 9, 2000, Miss Manning went with Mr White to a Seventies-themed fancy-dress party in Milton Keynes. They went on to Chicago’s nightclub but Miss Manning later walked off alone to catch a taxi.
At 2.43am, she used a phone box to call her flatmate in Wolverton, a suburb of Milton Keynes, and said she was upset. She also called Mr White, then aged 20, and told him she was lost.
They agreed to meet at a Blockbuster video store where he and Mr Hyatt would pick her up. When they arrived at 3.13am in Mr Hyatt’s van she was not there. It is likely that she was already dead.
A two-year investigation by the BBC’s Rough Justice programme uncovered glaring errors in the prosecution case.It commissioned new DNA and forensic tests which proved it was impossible for the men to have committed the crimes.
In 2007, two and a half years after the programme was screened, the Court of Appeal quashed their convictions. Mr White faced a retrial a year later and was cleared.
Yesterday, Mr White said: ‘I feel over the moon that justice has finally been done and really happy that Rachel’s family have finally got justice and the closure they deserve.’
Mr Hyatt added: ‘We can say we are innocent of this, we never did this, and the right guy has now gone to jail.’
The innocent boyfriend who lost 6 precious years rotting in a cell
When Barri White left his girlfriend Rachel Manning outside a nightclub after a drunken argument, it was to end in tragedy for her and a six-year prison nightmare for him.
Just before 3am, she called from a phone box to tell him she was lost and he arranged to pick her up outside a Blockbuster store on an estate.
That was the last time he heard her voice. She never arrived at the shop and her body was found two days later.
But Mr White had no time to mourn after becoming the chief suspect in her murder.
In 2002, he was jailed for life and spent six years in prison, filled with regret for leaving Miss Manning outside the nightclub and not sharing a taxi home with her.
Despite his protestations of innocence, many in jail believed he was the ruthless killer of a defenceless teenager. In some high security prisons, he asked to be placed in solitary confinement because he feared for his safety.
After years of legal battles and living with the stigma of being branded a murderer, he still thinks about the life they might have led together.
‘I was going to ask her to marry me on Christmas Day,’ he said. ‘I had bought the ring. You never know, if she had been here today we might still be married and have two lovely kids. It’s just a question now.’
Mr White’s conviction was quashed at the Court of Appeal in 2007 and he was acquitted at a retrial the following year.
However, he has never received a penny in compensation for his lost years. ‘I deserve a life back,’ he told the BBC. ‘Getting compensation and an apology from the police, that would be my justice.
‘It was six years of my life, my whole twenties, pretty much. They’re supposed to be the best years of your life, but I was rotting in jail.’
When asked about facing Rachel’s parents Liz and Paul during his numerous court appearances, he said: ‘It wasn’t nice them looking at me like I actually was the murderer of their daughter. I wanted to say that it wasn’t me. I loved their daughter too much.’
Despite another man now starting a life sentence for their daughter’s murder, her family still, in part, blame Mr White.
In a stinging statement, they said yesterday: ‘We believe Rachel would still be with us today if she had not been abandoned by her boyfriend the night she was attacked, killed and brutally battered. We cannot forget that.’
Every year, the American Kennel Club (AKC) and The International Cat Association (TICA) gather more than 200 breeds of adorable puppies and kittens in New York City's Jacob Javits Center. Here's what we learned at the 2013 show.
Sharing your scoops to your social media accounts is a must to distribute your curated content. Not only will it drive traffic and leads through your content, but it will help show your expertise with your followers.
How to integrate my topics' content to my website?
Integrating your curated content to your website or blog will allow you to increase your website visitors’ engagement, boost SEO and acquire new visitors. By redirecting your social media traffic to your website, Scoop.it will also help you generate more qualified traffic and leads from your curation work.
Distributing your curated content through a newsletter is a great way to nurture and engage your email subscribers will developing your traffic and visibility.
Creating engaging newsletters with your curated content is really easy.