Omar Benguit Loses Murder Conviction Appeal
9 April 2014, 14:10
A man jailed for the murder of a 26-year-old Korean woman in Bournemouth has failed to persuade appeal judges to quash his conviction.
Omar Benguit, 42, was jailed for a minimum of 20 years at Winchester Crown Court in 2005 after a jury found him guilty of murdering language student Jong-Ok Shin in 2002.
His case was referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission and lawyers argued that fresh evidence plus the emergence of another suspect made the conviction unsafe.
But three appeal judges, who heard evidence at a hearing in London in March, refused to overturn the guilty verdict.
They said they were satisfied that jurors had reached a verdict "consistent with the evidence'' and dismissed Benguit's appeal.
Judges said it was the second time that Benguit had failed to overturn the verdict - an appeal against conviction was dismissed in 2005.
Benguit had also argued that another suspect - Danilo Restivo, also 42 - may have been responsible for Miss Shin's murder.
Lady Justice Rafferty said Restivo had started living in Bournemouth in May 2002 - and in November 2002 a woman who lived near him - Heather Barnett - had been murdered at her home. Restivo had been convicted of Mrs Barnett's murder in 2011.
The judge said Restivo had also been convicted - in his absence - of the murder of Elisa Claps in Italy. Miss Claps vanished in 1993 when she was 16 after arranging to meet Restivo outside a church in Italy. Her body had been found in 2010 in the church loft.
Benguit had argued that there were similarities between the murders of Miss Claps, Mrs Barnett and Miss Shin.
But Lady Justice Rafferty said appeal judges were not persuaded.
She added: "The differences between the murders of Elisa Claps and Mrs Barnett, as compared to that of Miss Shin, do not persuade us that Restivo should be regarded as arguably a candidate for the latter.''
Restivo - a hair fetishist - was given a whole life term at Winchester Crown Court in 2011 after being convicted of the murder and mutilation of 48-year-old Mrs Barnett, who had two children. A trial had heard that Miss Claps had been killed using the same "hallmark''. The Court of Appeal later overturned Restivo's ''whole-life'' tariff and said he should serve a minimum sentence of 40 years.