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Last Updated: Friday, 17 March 2006, 11:45 GMT
Drugs led Millie into life of vice
Thelma Etim
BBC News, Dorset

Millie Mkwananzi
Ms Mkwananzi was found dead after a fire at her flat
A man was this week jailed for life for the murder of a university graduate who fell on hard times. BBC News looks at her sad story.

Her stabbed, strangled, emaciated body was discovered in the burnt-out shell of her basement flat in Bournemouth.

Lomoki Mkwananzi's young life had been brutally cut short by one of her clients, whom she had met while working as a prostitute.

Such was the ferocity of the assault, Detective Chief Inspector Neil Redstone, who led the murder inquiry, said: "The sheer barbarity of the attack was horrendous.

"Nobody, whatever they have done, deserves to die like that."

She was certainly an intelligent girl but she was at the bottom end of a slippery slope
Det Ch Insp Neil Redstone

Her addiction to heroin and crack cocaine had inadvertently led her to her murderer, Steven Smith, whom she met after leaving her Boscombe flat during the early hours of 29 March, 2005 - the day she died.

Smith, of Parkstone, Poole, was jailed for life for her murder and, on Wednesday, was told he would have to serve at least 19 years behind bars.

During his trial in January at Winchester Crown Court, he initially denied being with Ms Mkwananzi but subsequently, admitted he had met her.

Smith then claimed she had been "alive and well" when he left her.

However, the prosecution said his fingerprints had been found on an aerosol can that was allegedly used in the attack and that a pair of footprints in her blood found at the scene linked him to the murder.

Great expectations

His 29-year-old victim - who was known as Millie - had been working as a prostitute to fund her expensive habit.

"Unfortunately, her lifestyle brought her into contact with a violent man," said Det Chf Insp Redstone.

But London-born Millie once had great expectations - harbouring dreams of a career in magazine, advertising and design after graduating with a Media and Culture degree from Middlesex University in 1998.

As part of her BA Honours degree, she had written a dissertation challenging the "western aesthetic idea of beauty" entitled: "Who controls the way we look?"

"She was a very bright and intelligent girl that had a lot going for her," explained Pc David Collomb, the Dorset Police family liaison officer who dealt with Millie's mother, who has had to come to terms with her daughter's death.

"Her mother wanted to remember her as she was - she had no idea whatsoever that she was a prostitute."

She reached rock bottom and was living a sad life
Pc David Collomb

Ms Mkwananzi appeared to fully embrace university life, engaging in a number of student extra-curricular pursuits like joining clubs and societies.

She also enjoyed reading, listening to music, sport and liked acting, having joined the drama club there.

But somewhere between her arrival in Dorset and her subsequent murder, Ms Mkwananzi was sucked into the destructive and dangerous cycle of drug addiction and prostitution.

What happened to her in the intervening years after she moved from the capital to settle in Boscombe, will remain a mystery.

'Tragic loss'

"In the space of five or six years her high expectations went to nothing," added the family liaison officer.

"She reached rock bottom and was living a sad life.

"We will never know how Ms Mkwananzi became drawn into that lifestyle."

Millie first came to Dorset Police's attention in 2001, when she was arrested for an undisclosed offence but then released without charge.

Two years later, Ms Mkwananzi was arrested and charged with possession of Diamorphine, for which she was cautioned.

Between December 2003 and February 2004, she was twice arrested and charged for soliciting and was subsequently fined.

"That picture of her as a graduate bears no resemblance to what she looked like when she died," explained Det Chf Insp Redstone.

"It is undoubtedly a very tragic loss of life. I don't think we really got a true picture of what Ms Mkwananzi was really like - which is very sad.

"She was certainly an intelligent girl but she was at the bottom end of a slippery slope."

Man in court over Millie murder
11 Apr 05 |  Dorset
Strangled woman 'a drug addict'
30 Mar 05 |  Dorset

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