British Teenager’s Last Moments at the Hands of Her Indian Abductor Played in Court

by Gopalan on October 16, 2008 at 12:36 PM
British Teenager’s Last Moments at the Hands of Her Indian Abductor Played in Court

The last few harrowing moments of 17-year-old Hannah Foster, recorded in an emergency call, were played in a UK court. She was found raped and strangled to death in March 2003.

Maninder Pal Singh Kohli, 40, extradited from India only in July last year, is the key accused in the case, but he denies the charges.


In the call, clearly sounding terrified, Hannah Foster gives a false name before the man is heard asking her to get "her head down".

The teenager had allegedly been bundled into a van by a stranger after a night out with friends in Southampton, just a few hundred yards from her home.

But Foster secretly rang 999 for help, hoping that they would listen and realise she was in trouble, but she was cut off because she did not speak directly to the operator.

Her 50-second telephone call, which took place in a moving vehicle, was played to a hushed jury and public gallery at Winchester Crown Court in Hampshire.

Her parents Trevor and Hilary, as well as her sister Sarah, hurriedly left the court before hearing Foster's shaking voice.

In the recording, she tells the heavily accented man she was English and gives her name as Sarah - that of her younger sister.

At one stage, she said: "That's my road... that was where I live," before the man replied "live there".

Snippets of conversation were then heard before the man said: "(Held) your head down please".

Foster, who dreamed of becoming a doctor, is heard saying: "Sorry... no."

As the awkward conversation between the two continued, the emergency services' operator could be heard trying to elicit a response from Foster.

"D'you need the Fire, Police or Ambulance?" the female voice asked. "What number have you dialled please?

"If you are unable to speak but need an emergency service tap the handset."

But Foster did not respond, the court heard.

After nearly a minute, the call was transferred to New Scotland Yard, but when there was still no reply, an automated message was played.

"Nothing has been heard from the caller. Exchange, please disconnect line."

Foster's last snatched sentence "huh... listen... anything" were the final words to be heard.

The call, which was automatically recorded, was copied onto a CD during the police investigation and enhanced to help the jury make out what was being said.

At one point, the man was heard saying "I want to..." but the end of the sentence is disputed.

Jurors listened to the recording with specialist infrared equipment a total of seven times, the Telegraph newspapers reported.
Earlier Foster's best friend Helen Wilkinson told the court how she was the last person to see her alive.

The pair had known each other since the age of 11 and attended the same sixth form, Barton Peveril college in Eastleigh, near Southampton.

The 23-year-old Oxford graduate, who is working on a pHd in cancer studies at King's College London, broke down in tears as she told of their last night together.

The two women went to three bars, but only had one alcoholic drink each - a vodka, lime and lemonade.

They contemplated going onto a club, but decided better of it.

"We started to walk but then Hannah said 'shall we just not bother' and I said yes," she told the court.

Wilkinson said they walked to a bus stop in Portswood, on the outskirts of Southampton, so she could get home. Miss Foster lived nearby so opted to walk.

Like everyone else, Wilkinson found out later that her friend had vanished the next day, March 15.

"I got a call from (her sister) Sarah. She wanted to know if Hannah was with me."

Foster's battered body was discovered on a remote country lane on March 16, two days after she disappeared. She had been raped and strangled and her clothes were "dishevelled".

Wilkinson told the court that her friend had complained that she had been followed on at least two occasions by a young Asian male, who had "hung around" at the end of her road.

Maninder Pal Singh Kohli fled to India shortly after Foster's body was found, and was later identified by investigators as a prime suspect in the murder case. After Indian police failed to apprehend Kohli, Foster's parents personally went to India and made a public appeal for information of Kohli's whereabouts. During their 10-day visit, Foster's parents held a series of press conferences as well as opening a telephone "hotline". Their visit soon became a subject of interest in the Indian press, Kohli was arrested five days after their arrival.

Kohli was arrested on July 15, 2004 in West Bengal's Darjeeling district while trying to flee to Nepal. While in police custody, Kohli stated he was "tired of running". On July 28, 2004, Kohli admitted to having raped and murdered Foster in an interview to a private television channel. Confessing to his crime, Kohli said that he was forced to kill Foster after raping her because she refused to cover up his crime. But in August 2004, he retracted his confessional statement saying it was "not by my own will".

Kohli was held in judicial custody in India pending extradition to the United Kingdom; a final decision to extradite him to the U.K. was handed down on June 8, 2007.

He was initially charged with the murder, kidnap, and rape of teenager Hannah. Subsequently manslaughter, false imprisonment, and perverting the course of justice were also added to the list of charges.

On December 10, 2007 Kohli entered a plea of not guilty.

The trial continues.

Source: Medindia
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