Glasgow & West Scotland

Man jailed for 1997 murder of Glasgow woman Tracey Wylde

Tracey Wylde
Image caption Tracey Wylde was found dead in her home in 1997

A man has been jailed for a minimum of 20 years for the murder of a woman in Glasgow more than two decades ago.

Zhi Min Chen, 44, choked Tracey Wylde to death at her flat in Barmulloch in November 1997.

The body of the 21-year-old mother-of-one - who had been working as a prostitute - was found the next day.

Chinese-born Chen, who admitted the murder last month, was arrested last summer after his DNA was taken following an alleged assault.

Lord Arthurson told him: "You committed a brutal, cowardly and murderous attack on a vulnerable young woman in her own home."

He added: "You should be under no illusions concerning the damage and trauma that your murderous attack that day upon Ms Wylde has caused and indeed has continued to cause down the decades and beyond to her family."

Image caption Zhi Min Chen was caught through a DNA sample

Chen, who was 22 at the time of the murder, stood with his head bowed in the dock as he was sentenced to life in prison.

He must serve at least 20 years before he can apply for parole.

Lord Arthurson said Chen, who had no previous convictions, had enjoyed more than two decades of "undetected freedom" after the killing, during which time he had started a family and a business.

Speaking outside court, Ms Wylde's sister, Bernadette McCash, described the sentence as "a slap in the face".

She said: "I don't feel it is enough time. As a family we are really disappointed in the sentence.

"He ran for longer (than 20 years). He hid for longer."

Police had described Ms Wylde as having a "turbulent background" and said she had been a sex worker in Glasgow at the time of her death.

She had been raised by her grandparents before moving into her own flat and giving birth to her daughter in August 1994.

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Media captionTracey Wylde's family: "Life will never be normal for us"

The High Court in Glasgow heard Ms Wylde had gone into Glasgow city centre on 23 November 1997, and was last spotted on CCTV in the city's red-light area at about 03:20 the next morning.

Prosecutor Steven Borthwick said neighbour Mary McAnemy heard arguing in Ms Wylde's flat at about 04:40.

The last thing she heard was the door being slammed shut and keys being rattled.

Ms Wylde's body was discovered after she failed to show for an appointment at a support group.

The cause of death was found to be "manual strangulation".

Human traffickers

DNA from an unknown man was found on Tracy's body and clothes as well as a number of fingerprints in the area.

A large-scale manhunt lasting two-and-a-half years had initially failed to catch Ms Wylde's killer.

A cold case review in 2013 was also unsuccessful.

But Chen, of Glasgow's Anniesland, was eventually arrested in July last year after being held for an alleged assault in the city's Cowcaddens area.

The advocate depute said: "His fingerprints were found as being a match with the unidentified fingerprints from the murder scene."

Chen was quizzed - but initially denied any involvement in the killing.

On Friday the court heard his account of what happened for the first time.

Chen had ended up in Scotland illegally in the mid-90s fearing human traffickers in his homeland.

'Bleak lifestyle'

Donald Findlay QC, defending, said the killer initially had a "lonely and solitary" life here.

Mr Findlay: "It was during this fairly bleak lifestyle that he used the services of prostitutes.

"It was in that regard he encountered Miss Wylde."

They went to her flat before a later row turned "violent". Chen then thought Tracy would call the police.

Mr Findlay: "He was fearful for a number of reasons - not only an arrest and a return to China - but there police are not seen as agents of good."

Chen then choked Tracy, fled the scene and went on to live "an ordinary life".

The QC said Chen believed Tracy was still alive when he left that night.

But, he added: "After looking at every single aspect, it was my responsibility to offer advice - I did and Mr Chen accepted that."

Mr Findlay told the court the killing was "wholly out of character" for Chen.

Lord Arthurson said the minimum jail-term would have been 22 years, but for the guilty plea.

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