Hannah Foster killer gets 24 years, parents condemn sentence

November 26th, 2008 - 12:12 am ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 25 (IANS) Ex-van driver Maninder Pal Singh Kohli was Tuesday sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 24 years for the rape and murder of 17-year-old Hannah Foster, ringing the curtain down on a manhunt spanning two nations and more than five years.But Hannah’s parents, who fought a brave campaign to track down her killer, demanded 41-year-old Kohli spend the rest of his life in jail rather than be let out at the end of 24 years.

“We have done everything we can in pursuit of justice for Hannah. However, we cannot accept… how a complete stranger can abduct, rape and murder your teenage daughter - still a child in the eyes of the law - and yet not end his days in prison,” father Trevor Foster said.

“Kohli will, in all probability, walk out of jail after serving his recommended minimum sentence and resume his life in the outside world.”

Kohli, a father of two, shook his head slightly as the jury at Winchester Crown Court returned unanimous verdicts finding him guilty of the murder, rape, false imprisonment and kidnap of Foster in the city of Southampton March 14, 2003.

Sentencing him, the judge reminded him one last time of “the terrible and appalling ordeal which Hannah must have gone through before you killed her, the wanton way you disposed of her body and the unimaginable grief to which you have subjected her family”.

“It took a long time for you to be brought to justice but the law caught up with you in the end,” the judge told Kohli, who was arrested leading a new life in Kalimpong, West Bengal, living with a woman in July 2004 before being extradited to Britain in July last year.

After having confessed to his crime in India, Kohli changed his story during the six-week trial in Britain, saying he was the victim of a revenge plot, in which he was abducted and forced to have sex with a woman whom he later knew to be Hannah.

The judge said the jury had seen through Kohli’s “lies”.

The verdict rang the curtain down on a case that saw the victim’s parents take their campaign to track down Kohli all the way to India, before he was spotted by residents of Kalimpong town - living a new life in the mountains of West Bengal.

Hannah’s body was found March 16, strangled and lying in a bramble-filled ditch by the side of a road, a short walking distance from her home.

Hannah, who had spent the evening out with her parents, had been kidnapped by Kohli while she was walking back home. The secondary school student called emergency services, but the call was terminated when she did not speak.

Two days after Hannah’s body was found, Kohli panicked, borrowed some money from his father-in-law and caught a flight for India, heading for Chandigarh.

Once a turban-wearing Sikh, he shaved off his beard, changed his name and eventually created a new life for himself in hills of Kalimpong.

Next year, Hannah’s parents, along with the Hampshire police, visited India and led a media campaign, announcing a 70,000 pounds award.

Within days, Kohli - living under the name of Mike Davies - was spotted out in Kalimpong.

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