Sussex

Janet Muller death: Christopher Jeffrey-Shaw jailed for 17 years

Christopher Jeffrey-Shaw Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Christopher Jeffrey-Shaw claimed he did not know Janet Muller was in the car boot

A man has been jailed for 17 years for the "vile" manslaughter of a student he burned to death in the boot of a car.

Christopher Jeffrey-Shaw, 27, of Lakeside, Beckenham, south-east London was sentenced at Guildford Crown Court on Friday.

German national Janet Muller, 21, was found in a burnt-out car by Ifield Golf Club, near Horsham, on 13 March.

Jeffrey-Shaw had been found guilty of manslaughter but not of the alternative charge of murdering Ms Muller.

Sentencing Jeffrey-Shaw, the judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Stuart-Smith, said: "The only difference between you and a murderer is an extremely thin line."

Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Janet Muller went missing from a mental health hospital in Hove on 12 March

Ms Muller's beaten and burned body was found in the boot of a Volkswagen Jetta which the defendant had dumped.

Jeffrey-Shaw, who has previous convictions for blackmail and harassment, had admitted setting the car alight but denied murder, claiming he did not know the Brighton University student was in the car.

He told the court he had been involved with drug dealers who borrowed his hire car for a robbery which went wrong, then ordered him to set fire to the vehicle.

'Callous beyond belief'

On sentencing, Mr Justice Jeremy Stuart-Smith said he rejected the defendant's account and ruled he had witnessed her being put in the car.

He said: "I cannot find, on the basis of the jury's verdict, he was responsible for the head injuries, but he knew she was in the boot."

Speaking directly to Jeffrey-Shaw, he said: "What you did was deeply shocking and callous beyond belief and at every stage since you set fire to the car in which she died, you have lied and lied in your attempt to evade all responsibility for what you did.

"On the jury's verdict, the only reason you are not guilty of murder is because you did not have the human decency to check if the person in the boot of your car was dead or alive."

He added: "You deprived Miss Muller's parents of their daughter and her twin sister of her other half in a most devastating way."

After the verdict, Miss Muller's family said they were not happy it was manslaughter rather than murder.

Detective Supt Karen Mizzi told the BBC: "We respect the decision of the jury... We knew Mr Jeffrey-Shaw and Janet Muller were in Brighton at roughly the same time but we were not able to secure evidence that brought them together... That was a significant issue for the jury to consider."

She added: "We are not able to fully understand what happened between the time Ms Muller last seen alive and the time she was found in the car.

"Unless there is new information, it is very difficult for us to continue our enquiries."

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