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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 March 2006, 18:09 GMT 19:09 UK
Life sentence for Jeshma killer
Viktor Dembovskis

A Latvian man who raped and murdered a teenager as she walked home from school has been given three life sentences.

Viktor Dembovskis, 43, attacked Jeshma Raithatha as the 17-year-old made her way along a footpath near her home in Greenford, west London, last May.

Her body was discovered eight days later. She had been strangled, raped and then stabbed to death.

Sentencing Dembovskis at the Old Bailey, Judge Peter Beaumont said he would never be released.

Jurors took three hours to find Dembovskis guilty of murder and two counts of rape.

A-level student Miss Raithatha, an aspiring actress and singer, was attacked three days before her 18th birthday.

Blood-stained necklaces

Jurors heard Dembovskis lay in wait for her, choosing a "den" in thick undergrowth where they would not be seen.

Miss Raithatha was raped while she was still unconscious, then stabbed to death to stop her identifying Dembovskis, who had been living near her family home in Greenford.

Swabs taken from the teenager matched Dembovskis' DNA and two blood-stained necklaces, stolen from Miss Raithatha, were found in a fleece jacket left at his home.

He fled the country four days later after realising he had left his keys at the murder scene.

Jeshma Raithatha
Jeshma was attacked on her way home from school

Her family, who were in court to hear the verdicts, said her life had been taken in a "senseless manner".

In a statement they said: "She had such hopes and dreams for her future which was cut short in the most cruel and horrific manner."

They also demanded to know why Dembovskis was allowed to live in the country despite having been jailed for raping two women in Latvia.

"What checks were made about his background before he was allowed to set foot on British soil?"

They said his sentence should serve as a warning "that the taking of innocent lives will not be tolerated in a civilised society".

Dembovskis was flown back to London from Livani, 90 miles south-east of the Latvian capital Riga, to face trial.

You have twisted, lied and cast about for any excuse you could think of to avoid your responsibility for the abduction of a 17-year-old girl
Judge Peter Beaumont

The court heard he had twice been convicted of raping women at knifepoint in Latvia, in 1990 and 1999 and had a "propensity" to sexually assault women.

The Home Office said more co-operation was needed between EU states to ensure dangerous criminals were monitored.

But it said since joining the EU, Latvian nationals were free to come to the UK and a criminal record was not an automatic barrier to entry.

Sentencing Dembovskis, Judge Beaumont told him: "You have not displayed one jot of remorse for the appalling crimes you committed against that girl or the consequences to her family.

"You have twisted, lied and cast about for any excuse you could think of to avoid your responsibility for the abduction of a 17-year-old girl as she made her way home in broad daylight."

Det Insp John Crossley, the investigating officer, paid tribute to the family's bravery and dignity.

He added: "Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, Dembovskis has fought the case all the way putting the family through the trauma of a trial."

Jeshma's aunt speaks out on her murder

Funeral held for stabbed Jeshma
01 Jul 05 |  London
Jeshma suspect to be extradited
20 Jun 05 |  London

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