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Man charged over murder of Greenhithe schoolgirl Claire Tiltman 21 years ago

PUBLISHED: 14:03 12 February 2014 | UPDATED: 14:03 12 February 2014

Claire Tiltman

Claire Tiltman

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The mystery surrounding the death of schoolgirl Claire Tiltman could soon be over after a man was charged with her murder, in Greenhithe, 21 years ago.

Colin Ash-Smith, 45, is set to appear at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court on February 28 via video link accused of killing the 16-year-old, just days after her birthday.

The Dartford student was stabbed multiple times in an alleyway near her home in 1993.

Nigel Pilkington, head of the complex casework unit for the Crown Prosecution Service South East, said: “In November 2012 I received a file of evidence from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate relating to the murder of Claire Tiltman on January 18, 1993.

“The investigation by the police has been a lengthy and complex one.

“Following further investigation, my review of all the evidence in the case has now been completed and I have concluded there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest to prosecute Colin Ash-Smith, 45, for the murder of Claire Tiltman on January 18, 1993 in Greenhithe, Kent.”

Senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Rob Vinson, from the Kent and Essex serious crime directorate cold case team, said: “Claire Tiltman’s unsolved death is one of the longest-running cases for Kent Police and has remained in the forefront of the minds of investigating officers for more than two-decades.

“Colin Ash-Smith is now to be brought before a court following our investigations and subsequent consultation with the CPS.”

Following the death of Claire’s parents, Lin and Cliff, her school friends founded Justice for Claire - dedicated to revealing what really happened to their friend Tilt.

In a statement released earlier today, they said: “We have been told today of the decision to go ahead with a prosecution relating to the murder of our dear friend.

“We welcome this decision on what is a very emotional day for us all and we would like to thank Kent Police and the CPS for never giving up.

“I am sure you will understand we cannot comment further at this time but would like to thank everyone for their support.”

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson has followed the case closely, and said: “I have today spoken to the police officer leading the investigation in this case.

“Clearly this is a hugely significant development. Due process must now follow. We will all be watching the legal proceedings with huge interest.”

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