A man from Bletchley has been found guilty of the murder of Rachel Manning more than 12 years ago.
Shahidul Ahmed, 41, formerly of Chestnut Crescent, was found guilty of murder by a unanimous verdict following a three-week trial at Luton Crown Court. He was sentenced to life with a minimum of 17 years.
Rachel, 19, went missing after a night out at a 1970s themed fancy dress party in Milton Keynes on December 10, 2000. Her body was discovered two days later at Woburn Golf Club.
Her boyfriend at the time, Barri White, and his friend Keith Hyatt, were initially convicted of her murder but their convictions were overturned.
Ahmed came to the attention of police after he was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault in May 2010. A woman got into his car after a night out, believing he was a taxi driver.
She managed to escape from the car after he indecently assaulted her and was helped by a passer-by who got the registration number of the car. The arrest then led to a DNA hit connecting Ahmed to the stoplock that was used to assault Rachel following her death.
Ahmed was subsequently arrested on suspicion of Rachel’s murder in September 2010 and charged with her murder in December 2011. Ahmed answered no comment throughout the police interviews via an interpreter.
Det Ch Supt Rob Mason, Senior Investigating Officer, said: “What is important about the verdict today is justice for Rachel and her family. I cannot praise Rachel’s family enough; they have remained dignified and courageous throughout despite the unimaginable nightmare they have endured.
“I hope that today will give some comfort to the family after the ordeal they have been through over the past 12 years.
“This has been a long and difficult investigation which has resulted in four criminal trials. The many officers and staff who have worked on this case over the years have been committed to finding the truth and getting justice for Rachel. “
Baljit Ubhey, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service, said: “This case involved the tragic murder of a young woman more than 12 years ago. Rachel Manning, who was trying to find her way home after a night out, had the misfortune to come across Ahmed.
“We may never know what happened that night but what we do know is that Ahmed is an extremely dangerous man who was only convicted last year of a sexual assault against another young woman.
“Had it not been for his arrest for that offence Ahmed may never have been brought to justice for Rachel’s murder. It is right to acknowledge this is not the first trial for the murder of Rachel Manning, and I know there are a number of other individuals who will also be very pleased to see the right man convicted for this terrible crime at long last.
“An unusual feature of this trial is that two men who were prosecuted and convicted for this case became prosecution witnesses. We are grateful for Mr White’s and Mr Hyatt’s support for the prosecution case.
“We know that nothing will bring Rachel back to her family, but we hope that this conviction brings them at least a small sense that justice has been done.
“Our thoughts are very much with them at this time.”