Father of four jailed for girl's 1983 murder

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A married father of four was jailed for life today for the murder of a teenage girl more than 26 years ago.

Paul Hutchinson, 51, was told he would serve a minimum term of 25 years for the murder of trainee hairdresser Colette Aram in October 1983.

Colette, 16, was walking to her boyfriend's house in the Nottinghamshire village of Keyworth when she was abducted by Hutchinson.

The former electrician-turned businessman bundled the teenager into the back of a stolen car and beat her about the head with a bottle before raping her.

He then strangled Colette with his bare hands before arranging her body in a nearby field in a sexually-provocative pose.

The case was the first feature of the first episode of the BBC's Crimewatch in June 1984 but Hutchinson was only caught last year after evidence taken from near the murder scene was used to form his full DNA profile.

It was then run against the Government's database and was found to match his son's, who had been detained for a traffic offence.

Today, Hutchinson, a psychology graduate who had also been a youth worker, was jailed at Nottingham Crown Court.

Hutchinson, of Stockgill Close, West Bridgford, Nottingham, admitted murdering Colette at a court hearing last month.

Like Soham killer Ian Huntley, Hutchinson returned to the village to watch the police investigation unfold and later sent a letter taunting officers that he was still free.

In it, he claimed he was wearing a Halloween mask, before boasting: "No-one knows what I look like. That is why you have not got me.

"I know I strangled her. I drove around and ended up at Keyworth. I left the key there to fool you and walked back across the fields. You will never get me."

Last month, the court heard that on the day of the murder Hutchinson hid in a shed, spying on young girls as they rode horses at a riding school in nearby Lady Bay.

But he gave up and stole a red Ford Fiesta belonging to the principal of the horse riding school. He drove to Keyworth, where, armed with a bread knife, he preyed on two more schoolgirls.

Later that evening, Colette, who was usually picked up by her boyfriend Russell Godfrey, set off on the 20-minute, mile-long route to his house in the village.

At about 8.10pm she turned into Nicker Hill and witnesses reported hearing a woman screaming before a car drove off at speed.

After frantic phone calls between Colette's parents and Mr Godfrey, police were called at 10.30pm to help family and friends search for the teenager.

But it was not until 9am the next day that officers found her naked body in a cropped field a mile-and-a-half from where she was abducted.

At the time of the murder Colette lived only seven streets away from Hutchinson in Normanton Lane in a house she shared with her parents Jacqui, 63, Tony, 69, and brother Mark, now 45.

They were left devastated by the murder as Hutchinson set about covering his tracks by telling his family he had cancer.

He even shaved his head as if he had been given chemotherapy and abandoned his family, claiming he had to go to hospital for treatment.

However, he did return to south Nottinghamshire and a seemingly normal life.

He worked as an electrician and held down jobs as a youth worker, helping children with learning disabilities, and with a local housing association.

Hutchinson later moved to Stockgill Close, in nearby West Bridgford, where he set up his own newspaper distribution business.

He never admitted his horrific crime to his second wife Kiaran and their three children.

According to officers, Hutchinson's first wife and their son have also never been told what he did on October 30, 1983.

He was only caught after scientists used a paper towel he left at the Generous Briton pub in nearby Costock immediately after the murder to create his DNA profile.

Using a relatively new technique, they searched for DNA samples on the Government's controversial database.

It returned a possible match - that of one of his sons, who had been arrested for a traffic offence.

Following his arrest, Hutchinson had planned to blame the murder on his dead brother.

But he changed his plea just a month before the case got to trial after detectives revealed they had managed to find a DNA sample of the brother and it didn't match the sample taken from the pub.

Hutchinson's DNA has not been found at the scenes of any other unsolved crimes.

Detective Superintendent Kevin Flint, who was in the incident room the night Colette disappeared, has led the investigation since 2004.

He said Hutchinson would have been interviewed as a "person of interest" at the time of the murder.

Mr Flint said: "I think the message this conviction sends out is that we will never give up. The nature of these offences made us even more determined.

"It doesn't bear thinking about what goes through someone's mind who commits an offence like this.

"Colette was an innocent girl. She ended up dead in a field on a cold October night. Every police officer worth their salt would always be determined to find him."

He said: "He is a violent, manipulative, inveterate liar who has wrecked Colette's family's lives and has very much affected his family's lives.

"Every case that we work on as the homicide unit we try our damnedest to bring justice for the family and that sadly is all we can do. We can never bring loved ones back but the most we can do is get a successful prosecution."

Mr Flint added that the case was never closed but it was not until 2004 that officers began to actively follow up leads after the investigation featured again on the 20th anniversary programme of Crimewatch.

Mr Justice Flaux described Colette's murder as a "truly horrendous attack".

He said: "The terror and degradation that this poor girl must have suffered at the hands of a stranger in her last few moments are unimaginable.

"It's clear from the evidence before the court that you (Hutchinson) are a compulsive liar and fantasist.

"You have lived your life with your wife and children who were completely ignorant of who you were."