CONVICTED killer Omar Benguit’s claim that his victim was actually murdered by notorious Danilo Restivo was rejected by judges today.
Benguit, 41, was jailed for a minimum of 20 years at Winchester Crown Court in 2005 after being convicted of killing Jong-Ok Shin in Bournemouth on July 12, 2002.
At a hearing at the Court of Appeal on March 25, his lawyers argued that fresh evidence rendered the conviction unsafe, as a key witness had been demonstrated as unreliable, and the murder bore the hallmarks of Restivo whose crimes came to light after Benguit was jailed.
However, judges dismissed his claim today, explaining their decision in a written judgement.
They said: “The differences between the murders of Elisa Clapps and Mrs Barnett (Restivo’s victims), as compared to that of Miss Shin, do not persuade us that Restivo should be regarded as arguably a candidate for the latter.”
They said had Restivo been charged or convicted for those murders at the time of Benguit’s trial then it would have proceeded differently, however they did not believe a different verdict “would realistically have been in contemplation”.
Also, the judges said it was clear the witness had “undoubtedly exaggerated” her accounts to police before the trial, to the jury during the trial, and to the police again when it emerged she had given a different account of the incident in the media subsequently.
They added: “She did not however exaggerate for monetary gain and she never resiled from her evidence at trial.
“Her credibility was fully explored before the jury who in our view was best placed to assess submissions that she was inconsistent, unreliable and lying.”
They said there was nevertheless “significant circumstantial support” for her account from other witnesses.
“He carried a knife. A witness took him to 47 St Clements’s Road in the period after the murder. On arrival, he had blood on him and washed. He confessed to stabbing a student in Charminster. He telephoned his brother and attempted to create a false alibi.”
Lady Justice Rafferty, Mr Justice Cranston and Mr Justice Stewart concluded: “Thus, for all the reasons given, we dismiss this appeal and reject the application for leave.”