Mother of accused killer Colin Ash-Smith 'quizzed police'

Claire Tiltman Image copyright BBC news grab
Image caption Claire Tiltman was killed four days after her 16th birthday

The mother of a man accused of killing a Kent schoolgirl 21 years ago used her position on a council to quiz police about their inquiry, a court has heard.

Colin Ash-Smith, 46, is on trial charged with stabbing to death Claire Tiltman, 16, in Greenhithe in 1993.

Ash-Smith - who has since been jailed for stabbing attacks on two other women - denies murdering the teenager.

Jurors at the Inner London Crown Court heard how Mrs Ash-Smith repeatedly asked police about a car being sought.

Former Swanscombe and Greenhithe mayor Philip Crow said he and two other councillors - including Mrs Ash-Smith - had been invited to a police briefing about the ongoing investigation.

The killing had made locals uneasy, he said, adding: "It caused a lot of anxiety."

Image copyright BBC news grab
Image caption Claire Tiltman was murdered in an alleyway near her home in Greenhithe

At the time, Ash-Smith was driving a distinctive "souped-up" white Ford Capri car and, the court heard, had fed detectives a "false alibi" covering the time of Claire's killing, claiming to have been out leafleting with his mother Diane, who was a Labour councillor and later the local mayor.

Ash-Smith - who sports a mop of fair hair - is also said to have phoned police to say he had seen someone with curly dark hair at the scene of the crime.

Brian Altman QC, prosecuting, said Ash-Smith had lied because he feared his car had been spotted.

Giving evidence, Mr Crow said that during the police briefing Mrs Ash-Smith kept asking officers what type of car they were looking for.

"She kept coming back to the vehicle ... [There was a] reluctance to let the questioning go to other areas," he recalled.

The Crown has said Ash-Smith effectively confessed to the killing of Claire during a conversation with a fellow inmate at Wakefield Prison, when he "let slip" a crucial detail about a pedestrian crossing that linked him to the murder.

In a prison telephone conversation this August, which was played to the court, Ash-Smith told his friend Stefan Dubois how "desperate" police had become to link him to the crime.

The trial continues.

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites