Man jailed for killing his lover 18 years ago

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A man who for 18 years believed he had got away with murdering his lover was jailed for life at the Old Bailey after being caught by advances in forensic science.

Anthony Ruark, 40, was first questioned by police in 1983. Jacqueline Poole had been battered, sexually assaulted and strangled to death at her home. Ruark claimed he was with his regular girlfriend at the time and, despite the suspicions of detectives, there was not enough evidence to charge him.

Ruark, of Cirencester, Gloucestershire, sealed his fate when he committed a minor theft last year and his DNA profile was put on a national database. Detectives reopened the investigation after a tip-off in 1999 and forensic scientists discovered evidence that he had been at the murder scene, including a DNA profile under the victim's fingernails.

What prompted Ruark, a plasterer, to kill Mrs Poole, is still not known. He had previous convictions for dishonesty, but none for violence. The court was told she wore lots of jewellery and that much of it had been taken.

Judge Kenneth Machin told Ruark: "This was a brutal murder of a defenceless woman who had been nothing but kind to you." Ruark had denied murdering Mrs Poole, 25, at her flat in Ruislip, north-west London, in February 1983, but was found guilty by a jury after two days' deliberation.

Speaking after the case, Mrs Poole's brother, Terry, said: "Ruark has had 18 years of freedom that he should not have had, but this is finally justice. I have no feelings towards Ruark whatsoever, but I have nothing but praise for the police. She was a loving sister and we will never forget her."