CRIMINAL law chiefs have reopened the case of a Bournemouth man convicted seven years ago of killing a South Korean student.

Omar Benguit was sentenced to life in January 2005 for the murder of Jong-Ok Shin, known as Oki, who was stabbed in the back as she walked along Malmesbury Park Road in Charminster in the early hours of July 12, 2002.

He was told he would have to serve at least 20 years in jail before he would be considered for release by the parole board.

Now the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) is looking into Benguit’s case following the conviction of Danilo Restivo for the murder of Heather Barnett last year.

The Daily Echo understands that the CCRC has been in touch with Interpol with a number of questions in relation to the Italian investigation involving Restivo.

Lawyers acting on behalf of Omar Benguit submitted a 26-page document shortly after Restivo was convicted last June of Heather’s murder.

They claim Benguit, 39, is innocent and Restivo murdered 26-year-old Oki four months before he brutally attacked Heather Barnett in Capstone Road, Charminster, on November 12, 2002. Oki was killed just three roads away from where Heather and Restivo lived.

Benguit was convicted of killing Oki during a third trial after the first two juries failed to reach a verdict. An appeal bid in 2005 was dismissed.

And it has since emerged that police looked at Restivo as part of the early investigation into Oki’s murder.

Yesterday a spokesman from the CCRC said Benguit’s case was still under review and said he wasn’t able to say when a conclusion would be reached.

Des Jenson, part of Benguit’s legal team, confirmed the case was still with the CCRC and added: “We are still confident it will be sent to the Court of Appeal.”

In September last year, Italian national Restivo launched an appeal against his murder conviction of Heather Barnett. No date has been set for a hearing.

And in November Restivo was handed a 30-year prison sentence by an Italian court for the killing of 16-year-old schoolgirl Elisa Claps.

The 39-year-old was tried in his absence with Elisa’s murder after her mummified remains were discovered in the roof of a church in Potenza, Italy, in 2010 – 18 years after she disappeared.

A spokesman for Dorset Police said: “Omar Benguit was convicted of Jong-Ok Shin’s murder in 2005. He appealed against conviction – his appeal was dismissed.”

Fresh probe over 2005 conviction

OMAR Benguit’s sister says he and his family have never given up hope that he will be cleared of killing Jong-Ok Shin.

Amy says she is convinced her brother, who has been in prison for ten years, is innocent and will be freed.

Speaking to the Daily Echo, Amy said: “His legal team have been working day and night to get him out. Everything is in the CCRC’s hands and we have got to be patient because they have to carry out their own investigation.

“The fight for freedom continues. We have never stopped trying to free him and we will never stop. We have an amazing, incredible legal team led by Rag Chand.

“Omar is feeling very positive. He will never ever say that he did something if he didn’t. He said he would rather come out in a coffin than admit to something he hasn’t done.”

Amy added: “I know he will be handed leave to appeal. A lot of mistakes were made along the way. I don’t really blame anyone – all we want is justice for Omar and Oki.

“I just cannot wait for the nightmare to be over for all of us and for all the family. This has been like a dark cloud hanging over us.”

She said Benguit continues to receive the support of legal expert Barry Loveday, reader in criminal justice studies at Portsmouth University, and The Miscarriage of Justice Organisation (MOJO).

Amy, who speaks to her brother almost daily, said Benguit occupies himself in prison with the gym, reading and cooking.

She added: “I used to be so angry now I am not angry with anybody.

“I am not angry with the police, I am not angry with the witnesses because they were all drug addicts so how can you blame an addict?