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Last Updated: Monday, 13 March 2006, 17:28 GMT
Schoolgirl 'murdered on way home'
Jeshma Raithatha
Jeshma was attacked as she walked home from school
A man raped and murdered a teenage girl as she walked home from school, before fleeing to his native Latvia, the Old Bailey has heard.

Victor Dembovskis raped and stabbed to death Jeshma Raithatha in Sudbury Hill, west London, jurors heard.

The court heard he had twice been convicted of raping women at knifepoint in Latvia in 1990 and 1999.

Mr Dembovskis, 43, who denies murder and rape, was extradited from his home country to stand trial.

Details of his previous offences were revealed because the prosecution says he had a "propensity" to sexually assault women.

A-level student Miss Raithatha, an aspiring actress and singer, was stabbed to death on a footpath near her home.

He was armed with a knife, no doubt that was produced to ensure that his victim did not shout out or scream
Jonathan Laidlaw, prosecuting

The court heard she was grabbed at about 1500 GMT on 16 May, days before her 18th birthday. By 1600 GMT, she was dead.

Her body lay undiscovered for eight days.

The Old Bailey was told Mr Dembovskis had deliberately chosen a "den" in thick undergrowth where they would not be seen.

"He was armed with a knife, no doubt that was produced to ensure that his victim did not shout out or scream," said prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw.

"She was powerless to resist and she managed only to scratch the defendant before she lost consciousness."

Blood-stained necklaces

Jurors heard Miss Raithatha was raped while she was still unconscious, then stabbed to death to stop her identifying her attacker.

Mr Dembovskis had been living streets away from Miss Raithatha's family, in Greenford, west London.

The prosecution says swabs taken from the victim matched Mr Dembovskis' DNA and that he left a fleece jacket behind at his home, with two blood-stained necklaces stolen from Miss Raithatha.

"We understand the defendant is going to deny ever having had any contact with Jeshma," Mr Laidlaw said.

"We must wait to see how he will seek to explain how his semen came to be found on her body... how her jewellery was found in his jacket and how the keys to his address and room were found close to her body."

The trial continues.

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