Defendant in Rachel Manning murder case will not give evidence


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The Independent Online

A man accused of strangling a teenager to death 12 years ago before disfiguring her corpse with a car steering lock will not give evidence in his own defence, a court heard today.

Shop assistant Rachel Manning, 19, was strangled after making a late night call from a public phone box in Milton Keynes and driven to a golf course where her body was dumped in the undergrowth.

Shahidul Ahmed, 41, who is standing trial accused of murdering her in December 2000, will not take to the witness stand, the jury at Luton Crown Court was told this morning, after the prosecution closed its case.

Mr Justice Wilkie told the jury Ahmed had every right not to give evidence and that they should make such inferences from his decision as they thought appropriate.

Michael Borrelli, representing Ahmed, said: "We do not seek to call the defendant; however we will be calling further evidence."

A defence witness knows as Witness 419 will give evidence anonymously from behind a screen tomorrow.

The court previously heard that Miss Manning was strangled to death and then her body hit repeatedly with a steering lock after she was dead, causing broken bones.

DNA found on the steering lock matched Ahmed, the jury was told.

The lock was discovered by the road "on the direct route between the spot where the body was hidden and Shahidul Ahmed's home in Bletchley".

The court also heard Ahmed, of Chestnut Crescent, Bletchley, Bucks, sold his car eight days after Miss Manning, who had been to a fancy dress party, was murdered on December 10.

Her boyfriend Barri White, who was with her at the 70s themed party, then at Chicago's nightclub, was convicted of her murder in 2002.

His conviction was later quashed on appeal and he was acquitted at a retrial in 2008.

He told the trial last week how Miss Manning rang from a payphone on the night she died to say she was lost in the Oldbrook area of Milton Keynes, and it was arranged that the friend would drive him to meet her in the car park of Blockbuster, three minutes' away.

They went there in the friend's work van, but she was not there. Despite further searches they did not find her.

It was at this point that officers matched his DNA to the unsolved murder, the jury was told.

Ahmed denies murder.

The trial continues.