THE boyfriend of a teenager whose body was dumped on an exclusive golf course after they had been to a 1970s-themed fancy dress party told a jury today (Monday) he spent nearly six years in jail for her murder.
Barri White, who was cleared after a retrial, was giving evidence at Luton Crown Court where restaurant worker Shahidul Ahmed is now accused of her murder.
Mr White, 32, said after the BBC Rough Justice programme looked into his case he went before the Court of Appeal, which ordered the retrial.
Rachel Manning, who was 19, was strangled and her face then disfigured after being hit 17 times with a car’s stop-lock.
Her body was found in thick undergrowth in the grounds of Woburn Golf Club on the Buckinghamshire-Bedfordshire border nearly 13 years ago. Shop worker Rachel was still wearing her fancy dress outfit - a white embroidered cheesecloth blouse, a dark miniskirt, a pair of hot pants underneath and white knee-length boots. The blue wig she had been wearing was missing.
Giving evidence, Mr White said after the fancy dress party in Bradwell, Milton Keynes, on Saturday, December 9, 2000 he and Rachel went on to Chicago’s nightclub in the city centre.
They left the club after 2am and Mr White became involved in an argument when a man accused him of throwing part of a kebab over him. Miss Manning intervened to stop the trouble and they walked off. Asked by prosecutor Ben Gumpert how drunk he was on a scale of 1 to 10, he replied: “Seven or eight.”
He said he told his girlfriend to get a taxi home while he walked to Pencarrow Place where his friend, Keith Hyatt, lived. “I was feeling drunk and cold and wanted to get home. I thought Keith might give me a lift. It was cold and raining.”
At Mr Hyatt’s house he said there was a call on the house line from Miss Manning. He said she told him she was lost on the Oldbrook Estate in the city. Mr White said he told her to go to the Blockbuster shop on the estate and he would get Mr Hyatt to drive him there in his white work transit van.
Mr White told the jury they drove three times around the area but could not find her. He said he then went out on foot searching the redway paths in the city. He said he had also telephoned her home in an attempt to locate her.
The next morning he went off to work at JJB Sports and called Miss Manning’s address in Wolverton when he got home. On the Monday she was due to start work at the Madhouse clothes store in Central Milton Keynes. He went there with a friend but she did not turn up.
He went on: “We started getting a little bit worried. We decided we would phone the police and report her missing. We went to her friend’s house first to see if she was there. Then we went to her house in Wolverton and reported her missing.”
Mr Gumpert asked him how their relationship was. He replied: “It was all right. We had our arguments.”
Under cross examination by Michael Borrelli QC, Mr White said: “I wish I had never left her that night.”
In a heated exchange with the defence barrister, he said: “You are trying to put the case on me. I am innocent of this case. It is not my DNA on the steering lock or hot pants.
“I feel like I am on trial and it has been proved that I am innocent.”
Mr Ahmed, 41, of Chestnut Crescent, Bletchley, pleads not guilty to murdering Miss Manning between December 9 and 13, 2000.
Mr Gumpert said Rachel was strangled with a soft ligature in the early hours of Sunday, December 10, 2000 in Milton Keynes. Her body was taken to the golf club, which is eight miles away, and left in the undergrowth.
He said: “The prosecution’s case is that she was murdered by Shahidul Ahmed; that he attacked her close to a telephone box in Milton Keynes from which she had just made a call, before driving her body to the golf course and disposing of it.”
The impulse to attack her was ‘probably sexual’, he said.
He added: “She had extensive injuries to the left side of her face. Rachel Manning’s death had been caused by strangulation by compression of the neck by a soft ligature.”
The 17 facial injuries discovered had been caused after her death.
A hair from Miss Mnaning was allegedly discovered on a fence close to the scene, along with fibres similar to the clothes she was wearing.
Soil was trapped in the top of her white boots indicating she had been dragged to where she was found.
500 metres from where Miss Manning’s body lay, police discovered a grey and yellow steering stop lock. It was found on the route from the scene where her body was found and Mr Ahmed’s home in Bletchley, alleged Mr Gumpert.
The steering lock was examined and found to be the weapon that had disfigured her face.
A DNA profile was taken from the handle end of the stop lock and another sample was found, but there was no match for the profile on the police database.
But Mr Gumpert said that in May 2010 Mr Ahmed was arrested for a matter unconnected to Miss Manning’s death. When his DNA profile was obtained it proved to be a match for the profile found on the steering lock. It was not in dispute that it was Mr Ahmed’s DNA, he said.
In addition he alleged a hair, which could be linked to Mr Ahmed, had been recovered from hot pants Miss Manning was wearing after they had been subjected to advance DNA testing in the years following her death.
The jury was told Mr Ahmed, who originates from Bangladesh, came to Milton Keynes in May 1989. He was living in Weston Road, Bletchley, at the time and was a restaurant worker in Buckingham at the Buckingham Tandoori.
The jury heard that eight days after the murder of Miss Manning, Mr Ahmed got rid of the car he had been driving at the time, a Rover 216
At the start of the hearing, the judge Mr Justice Wilkie told the jury today (Monday): “This is a retrial in the case of Shahidul Ahmed. There was a trial at the beginning of this year, which was inconclusive.”
The case continues and is expected to last up to five weeks.