A schoolgirl was murdered in a "frenzied and remorseless" attack by a “predatory armed killer” obsessed with knives, who had been previously jailed for brutally attacking two young women, a court has heard.
Colin Ash-Smith, 46, pounced on Claire Tiltman as she took a shortcut through an alley to a friend's house in 1993 just four days after her 16th birthday, knifing her no less than nine times, it is claimed.
The former milkman murdered the schoolgirl as part of a "spree" of brutal attacks on women in Kent in the late 1980s and 1990s, Inner London Crown Court heard.
Brian Altman QC, prosecuting, said Ash-Smith "savagely killed" Claire inside a dark alleyway on 18 January 1993 because he got a "warped pleasure" out of her murder.
He told jurors: "Her assailant had stabbed her no less than nine times in what can only be described as a frenzied and remorseless attack by someone having nothing less than the intention of killing her.
"Make no mistake, this was a killing for the sake of killing, carried out by a ruthless and predatory armed killer, who attacked his chosen victim rapidly and stealthily, allowing her no time for defence or escape, and who fled the scene just as efficiently as he had arrived."
The court heard that Ash-Smith had carried out similarly brutal knife attacks on other women, and plotted more. He also allegedly bragged about his attacks in journals which contained details of his assault plans.
In 1988 Ash-Smith tried to murder and rape a woman, stabbing her repeatedly in a savage attack.
Mr Altman said Ash-Smith was just 20 when he attempted to murder his first victim "by strangling her, and by stabbing her several times in the back, and he had attempted to rape her".
"The killing of Claire Tiltman did not end his spree, because two and a half years later in October 1995, when he was 27, the defendant attacked and stabbed another local woman some 360 metres as the crow flies from where the prosecution say he attacked Claire Tiltman."
He said that, like the schoolgirl's murder two years before, the attack was "seemingly motiveless" and it was also "a rare and exceptional event".
Ash-Smith pleaded guilty in 1996 to these other attacks.
Jurors heard that Claire had been taking her mock GCSE exams around the time of her "dreadful murder". That evening, she left home to visit her friend Victoria Swift's house, who she was going to talk to about college choices. But she never arrived and was stabbed to death in an alleyway before staggering out bleeding onto London Road in Greenhithe.
Passers-by rushed to her aid, but she couldn't be saved and died on her back on the pavement.
The court heard that Kent Police launched a massive and long-running investigation to hunt down Claire's killer, but Ash-Smith has always denied her murder.
Ash-Smith was arrested following his attack in October 1995, two years after Claire's death.
While in prison for the other two attacks he "befriended a fellow prisoner to whom he confessed he was Claire Tiltman's killer", Mr Altman added.
Ash-Smith denies the murder and has always claimed he has an alibi for the killing. He spoke in court only to plead not guilty to murder.
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