Page last updated at 12:51 GMT, Tuesday, 25 November 2008

From delivery driver to prime suspect

By Eleanor Williams
BBC News

A picture of Maninder Pal Singh Kohli was taken by a CCTV camera shortly before he left the UK
A picture of Kohli taken by a CCTV camera shortly before he left the UK

On the surface he was an ordinary hard-working family man but within a few days in March 2003 he became the most wanted criminal in the UK.

Maninder Pal Singh Kohli was a delivery driver for a sandwich company in Southampton, where he lived with his wife and two young sons.

The 41-year-old had no criminal record and had never figured in a police investigation since moving to England from India in 1994.

His marriage to a British woman of Indian descent had been arranged by their families.

For nine years the family led a quiet life - until the night of Friday, 14 March 2003, when Kohli abducted, raped and killed 17-year-old Hannah Foster.

India flight

She had spent the evening out with friends in Southampton and was making her way home when Kohli snatched her from the street near her home.

After dumping her body in Allington Lane, in the West End area of the city, he went home to his family in Portswood - the same area where Hannah's family lived.

Hannah's mobile phone and bag
Hannah's bag and her mobile phone were found in Southsea

Two days later Hannah's body was found and two days after that, Kohli was on a flight from Heathrow to India.

By now a major police investigation had begun and, piece by piece, detectives were putting together the jigsaw which would lead them to Kohli.

Hannah's handbag was recovered in Southsea the day after her body was found and police tracked her mobile phone's movement by analysing information from cell sites and mobile phone masts.

This showed that when Hilary Foster sent a text message to her daughter's phone at 0528 GMT on Saturday, it was received in Southampton.

When she phoned her an hour later the signal was picked up in North End, Portsmouth.

She left a voicemail and when a text was received by Hannah's phone to alert her to the message, 27 seconds later, it had moved south into the city.

Hannah murder: 'Despicable acts'

The two cells which transmitted the signals cover the M27 into Portsmouth.

This information provided detectives with the route Hannah's mobile made during the early hours of Saturday.

Ten days after Hannah's body was found a reconstruction of her last hours alive were shown on BBC's Crimewatch programme.

James Dennis's wife had recorded the programme for him and he sat down to watch it the following day.

Police were looking for someone who would have been in Southampton at 0530 GMT on Saturday and in Portsmouth an hour later.

Mr Dennis knew someone who would have made that journey at exactly that time - his employee Maninder Pal Singh Kohli.

Kohli's sandwich delivery round from Hazlewood Foods would have taken him to Hedge End and then along the M27 to Portsmouth and Southsea.

Images were shown to jurors of the man accused of murdering Hannah Foster on the day she vanished.

Mr Dennis called police and gave them Kohli's name. Police seized Kohli's van. Hannah's blood and a man's DNA was found inside it.

The next step for police was to check CCTV footage and data from vehicle recognition cameras being trialled on the M27.

Hours of footage was studied and in a number of pictures Kohli's white van, with Rockfield written on the bonnet, could be seen travelling the route mirrored by Hannah's mobile phone records.

A further clue was provided by Kohli's young sons.

When police went to his home, only to discover he had left the country, DNA was taken from his children - this proved a positive match for DNA found, along with Hannah's blood, in the van.

Two weeks after the murder of Hannah Foster, Maninder Pal Singh Kohli was identified by Hampshire Police as the prime suspect.

But it would take another five years to extradite him from India and bring him to justice.

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