Beds, Herts & Bucks

Rachel Manning murder: Shahidul Ahmed found guilty

Shahidul Ahmed
Image caption Shahidul Ahmed was a restaurant worker when he killed Miss Manning

A man has been jailed for life for killing a 19-year-old woman more than a decade after her boyfriend was wrongly jailed for the crime.

Shahidul Ahmed strangled Rachel Manning in Milton Keynes and dumped her body at a golf course in 2000.

In 2002, Barri White was convicted of murder and his friend Keith Hyatt of perverting the course of justice. Both had their convictions quashed in 2007.

Ahmed, 41, of Bletchley, was ordered to serve a minimum of 17 years.

Mr White said that he was "over the moon" that Ahmed had been convicted of her murder, adding that "justice has finally been done".

He said that he was "really happy that Rachel's family have finally got justice and the closure they deserve".

'Rebuild our lives'

Speaking outside Luton Crown Court, Mr Hyatt said the conviction had given him "closure".

"We've closed the book," he said. "Hopefully we can just rebuild our lives and try to get on with life."

The convictions of Mr White and Mr Hyatt were quashed after a BBC Rough Justice documentary questioned the forensic evidence used to convict them.

Mr White was then cleared after a re-trial in 2008.

Shop assistant Miss Manning, of Milton Keynes, had been to a 1970s-themed fancy dress party and Chicago's nightclub with Mr White when she became lost in the early hours of 10 December 2000.

Mr White went to the home of Mr Hyatt, where he was staying, while Miss Manning walked off alone to catch a taxi.

Image caption Rachel Manning wore a blue wig to the 1970s themed fancy dress party

The teenager was found dead in undergrowth at Woburn Golf Club two days later.

She had been strangled and her face disfigured with a steering lock, which was found 500m (546 yards) from her body.

Father-of-five Ahmed stood trial earlier this year, when a jury failed to reach a verdict.

Ahmed, whose DNA was linked to the case following his arrest for a sex attack in 2010, did not give evidence at either trial.

The court heard that the defendant, a restaurant worker, got rid of his car eight days after Miss Manning's death.

Jurors were told his DNA was found on the steering lock and it was "totally improbable" that a hair found on Miss Manning's clothing did not belong to Ahmed.

Sentencing Ahmed, Mr Justice Wilkie said: "Rachel Manning was a charming, witty, gregarious, happy, positive person who had much to look forward to.

'Wholly innocent'

"You snuffed all that out, driven by the same demon that led you, in 2010, to carry out a sex assault."

Media captionLiz Manning, mother: "We've had to go through four trials and an appeal, and each time it's forced us to relive the grief"

The judge added: "You must have known 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.

"Nobody can bring back Rachel's lost life and their lost years."

After the case, Miss Manning's mother, Liz, criticised Mr White for leaving her daughter to walk home alone.

She said: "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."

Media captionKeith Hyatt told the BBC's Newsnight that the British justice system was "a joke"

Mrs Manning, a teacher, did not criticise the police and CPS for bringing the first case against Mr White.

"At all times we believe the police followed the evidence available," she said.

"We have had to go through four trials and an appeal and each time it has forced us to relive the grief.

"We are relieved at the verdict that has been reached. We consider it a just conclusion."

Det Ch Supt Rob Mason, of Thames Valley Police, paid tribute to the Manning family.

He said: "I cannot praise Rachel's family enough - they have remained dignified and courageous throughout, despite the unimaginable nightmare they have endured."

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