THE man found guilty of killing South Korean language student Jong-Ok Shin in Bournemouth will have his case sent to the court of appeal, law chiefs have today ruled.
Omar Benguit was found guilty of Oki’s murder following a third trial in 2005, jailed for life and told he would have to serve at least 20 years behind bars before being considered for parole.
He has always protested his innocence and last year his legal submitted a document to the Criminal Cases Review Commission calling for them to review his case.
His lawyers insist Benguit is innocent and believe the man responsible for Oki’s murder is double-killer Danilo Restivo - who lived just three roads away - who was convicted of killing mum-of-two Heather Barnett and Italian schoolgirl Elisa Claps.
They also say there were inconsistencies in the main prosecution witness’s evidence and have found CCTV footage which puts into question her account of events.
Following an extensive and detailed review of the case, the CCRC have today announced they have decided to refer Benguit’s case to the Court of Appeal.
Benguit, 40, will now have his case heard some time in the new year. If they rule Benguit’s conviction is unsafe, judges will dismiss his conviction and he could walk free. In a statement the CCRC said: “The referral is based on new evidence which potentially impacts on the reliability of a prosecution witness who gave evidence at trial, and on new evidence in relation to another individual which, had it been known at the time of the trial, would have enabled Mr Benguit’s defence to suggest a possible alternative suspect for the offence.”
His sister Amy, who has fought for justice for the last 10 years, told the Echo: “I cannot describe how I am feeling, after all the struggle and hard work we have the result we have been waiting for.”
And his solicitor Des Jenson said: “We are delighted for him and his family but we are only half way there. We still have to convince the Court of Appeal.”
Oki, 26, was stabbed in the back as she walked home along Malmesbury Park Road in Charminster, in the early hours of July 12, 2002.
The prosecution in each of his three trials claimed Benguit, then 30, high on crack cocaine and heroin stabbed Oki because he wanted her and she rejected his advances. The case was taken to court a third time because two previous juries couldn’t reach a verdict.