‘Predatory armed killer’ sentenced

Published: Friday 12th December 2014 by The News Editor

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A “predatory armed killer” will be sentenced today for the murder of a schoolgirl – 19 years after he was first questioned by police on suspicion of killing her.

Colin Ash-Smith, 46, stabbed Claire Tiltman from behind as she took a shortcut through a dark alleyway to a friend’s house in 1993, just four days after her 16th birthday.

He was branded “pure evil” by police and faces a life sentence for the “frenzied and remorseless” murder.

He was first questioned as a suspect in 1995, after he confessed to stabbing Charlotte Barnard, 22, yards from where Claire was murdered.

He was jailed for life for Ms Barnard’s attack the following year.

But he was only charged with Claire’s murder earlier this year on the day he was being considered for release by the parole board.

The jury found the blond-haired former milkman guilty of murder yesterday at Inner London Crown Court after three hours’ deliberation.

Claire’s devoted parents Cliff and Linda both died never having seen justice served.

But her school friends, who have fought tirelessly to see her killer found, are expected at court today.

A knife-obsessed loner, Ash-Smith was jailed for life in 1996 for stabbing two other young women in brutal attacks that bore the same hallmarks as Claire’s murder.

The judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, warned Ash-Smith yesterday: “The only sentence I can impose upon a conviction for murder is one of life imprisonment.”

Ash-Smith knifed the schoolgirl as she walked to her friend’s house in Greenhithe, Kent, on 10 January 1993.

In a decision that was to cost Claire her life, the schoolgirl turned down a lift from her friend’s mother and instead walked.

But she never made it to her friend’s, and was stabbed in the alley.

Brian Altman QC, prosecuting, said Ash-Smith got a “warped pleasure” out of killing Claire.

He told jurors: “Her assailant had stabbed her no less than nine times in what can only be described as a frenzied and remorseless attack by someone having nothing less than the intention of killing her.

“Make no mistake, this was a killing for the sake of killing, carried out by a ruthless and predatory armed killer, who attacked his chosen victim rapidly and stealthily, allowing her no time for defence or escape, and who fled the scene just as efficiently as he had arrived.”

A five-week trial heard chilling details of how Ash-Smith killed Claire as part of a “spree” of attacks on females across Kent.

A self-confessed “animal”, he was plagued by a hatred of women who he felt “humiliated” him.

He attacked females, and then bragged about them in diaries, giving himself a percentage rating for how “successful” he was.

Ash-Smith told how he went on midnight walks armed with knives hunting for victims.

Asked why he attacked the woman, he said: “I wanted to feel empowered, that I had control over someone.

“That I wasn’t a doormat.”

In 1988, he had attempted to rape and murder a young mother in a quarry.

And in 1995 he struck again, stabbing 22 year-old Charlotte Barnard 14 times just yards from where he killed Claire.

Published: Friday 12th December 2014 by The News Editor

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