A man who strangled a 17-year-old girl during a violent sexual attack then hid her body in a clingfilm-wrapped wardrobe has been found guilty of murder.
Ashley Foster had been released from prison just three days before he strangled Megan Bills with a shirt, then allowed her remains to decompose for more than a fortnight at an ex-offenders’ hostel as he searched the internet for so-called snuff movies and necrophilia-related images.
Jurors at Wolverhampton Crown Court unanimously convicted the 24-year-old – who admitted preventing Megan’s lawful burial – after hearing how he had told his mother in a letter that he had concealed the homeless teenager’s body after accidentally throttling her during consensual sex.
Megan’s body was found 18 days after the murder on Easter Sunday last year at the New Path of Life hostel in Brierley Hill, West Midlands by horrified staff, who had inspected Foster’s room but been told the “revolting” smell came from the carpets.
Her body – which was wrapped in a curtain inside the wardrobe – was identified through dental records but was so badly decomposed that a post-mortem examination failed to establish how she died.
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At the start of the seven-day trial, prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC said Foster “seemed his normal self” as he enjoyed a roast dinner in the aftermath of the killing, and smirked at a relative when asked why he needed to buy clingfilm.
Examination of his mobile phones showed he had made numerous searches relating to strangulation and schoolgirls in the days after the murder.
Opening the case, Mr Aylett told the court: “That Megan’s violent death must be related to some perverted sexual activity on the part of this defendant, which involves either actual death or the simulation of death, is borne out by the internet searches that the defendant made in the days following Megan’s death.
“The defendant repeatedly looked for ‘snuff’ videos – being a type of film in which someone can actually be seen to be, or appear to be, murdered.”
After giving jurors details of the extent to which the body had decomposed, Mr Aylett told them: “If the defendant’s purpose was to ensure that it would be as difficult as it could possibly be to work out how she died, he certainly achieved that aim.
“The pathologist has said it is simply not possible to say how it is that Megan died.”