Indian immigrant Maninder Pal Singh Kohli has been sentenced to life imprisonment in UK with a minimum of 24 years for rape and murder of Hannah Foster.
The 41-YEAR-old Kohli was found guilty of the murder, rape, false imprisonment and kidnap of the 17-year-old Hannah Foster, a brilliant A-level student.
AdvertisementKohli snatched her from a street just yards from her home in Southampton after she had spent a night out with friends.
The terrified teenager, who wanted to be a doctor, called 999 hoping an operator would hear what was happening but the call was terminated when she did not speak.
Kohli took her to a secluded spot where he raped Hannah in his sandwich delivery van several times before strangling her when he feared she might identify him.
He dumped her body beside a road in West End, Hampshire, and went back home to his wife and two sons. Four days later, he fled to India as the police net closed in on him.
After years of campaigning by Hannah's parents Hilary and Trevor Foster, Kohli was finally extradited back to Britain last year to stand trial.
The jury at Winchester Crown Court convicted Kohli today.
The verdicts bring to an end a five year long campaign for justice by Mr and Mrs Foster, whose daughter was murdered in March 2003.
Kohli shook his head only slightly but showed no other emotion as the four unanimous verdicts were delivered.
Hearing the guilty verdict on the first count of murder, Hannah's sister Sarah and her mother sobbed and hugged each other while Hannah's father helped comfort them.
The jury took five-and-a-half hours to reach its decision and the judge, Mr Justice Keith, adjourned the case for 10 minutes so everyone in court could regain their composure.
Kohli, dressed in a grey suit and blue shirt and flanked by three security guards, was taken from the court.
The verdicts, after nearly six years, were a final victory in a rollercoaster ride for Hannah's parents, who had travelled to India four times over the years to keep up the pressure on Indian authorities and get Kohli back to face justice.
Their first trip in July 2004 managed to find Kohli after a national appeal for help across India, but the sandwich delivery driver fought his extradition for a further three years.
Today, sitting in the public gallery, they finally saw justice delivered.
During the six-week trial, the jury heard a distressing recording of the 999 call Hannah made in the moments after she was abducted.
She had just waved goodbye to her friend Helen Wilkinson at a bus stop in the Portswood area of Southampton when the call was made at 11pm.
On the tape, a clearly very frightened Hannah is heard to say as she saw Grosvenor Road, where she lived: "That's my, my road ... that was where I live."
Hannah's fully-clothed body was found on March 16 in brambles off Allington Lane, West End, after it was spotted by a 14-year-old boy from his mother's car.
Two days later Kohli boarded a flight from Heathrow to India, where he would spend 16 months on the run, even marrying another woman before he was arrested.
It was not until much later in March that a BBC Crimewatch appeal led his work colleague at Hazelwood Foods, Mr Dennis, to spot similarities between bigamist Kohli and the person police were searching for.
He called police and the jigsaw rapidly fell into place.
Hannah's mobile phone was tracked moving along the M27 and M275 in Hampshire at the same time Kohli's Transit van was spotted on cameras.
CCTV footage from a garage placed his van three times in the vicinity of Allington Lane in the early hours of March 15 as he disposed of the body.
DNA belonging to Kohli was found on Hannah with a billion to one match probability and Hannah's DNA and blood was found in Kohli's van when it was seized.
Sentencing him, Justice Keith said his crime was aggravated by "Hannah's vulnerability as a young slip of a girl, the terrible and appalling ordeal which Hannah must have gone through before you killed her, the wanton way you disposed of her body and the unimaginable grief to which you have subjected her family."
He told him: "It took a long time for you to be brought to justice but the law caught up with you in the end.
"The jury saw through your lies and you stand there exposed as a heartless and contemptible man who abducted and raped an attractive 17-year-old girl with everything to live for, and then callously and quite premeditatedly took her life so she would not be able to point the finger of guilt at you."
In a victim impact statement read to the court after the verdicts today, Hannah's mother, Hilary, said she would feel guilt for the rest of her life that she was not there to protect her daughter when she was murdered.
"Kohli ripped out my heart and stamped on it. When Trevor and I saw Hannah in the mortuary, I couldn't believe what I was seeing, there must be some mistake. The cold, battered and bruised body certainly looked like her, but where was the sparkle in her eyes?"
She added: "Our lives have revolved around our two girls, their wellbeing, personal interests and hopes for the future. On March 14 2003, our lives changed forever."