Page last updated at 15:08 GMT, Friday, 27 June 2008 16:08 UK

Man murdered woman while on bail

Victim Stacey Westbury
Stacey Westbury was with her baby son when she was attacked

A man has been jailed for life for the sexual assault and murder of a woman, eight days after he was released on bail over separate rape allegations.

The body of Stacey Westbury, 23, was found at her home in Fulham, west London, on 17 August 2007.

Christopher Braithwaite, 22, of Shepherd's Bush, west London, was arrested the following day.

He pleaded guilty to both charges and was jailed for life, with a minimum term of 30 years, at the Old Bailey.

Judge Stephen Kramer told Braithwaite: "What you did to her was not simply a momentary burst of rage."

The judge said a series of rape charges in relation to other victims should be allowed to lie on file.

Miss Westbury was alone in her flat with her 10-month-old son in his cot when Braithwaite carried out his attack.

She was discovered by her father, Kenneth Westbury, nearly 24 hours later.

He said the day he found his daughter's body would haunt him for the rest of his life.

He said he had felt "the most awful pain" but also "white hot rage" because of what had happened to her.

"I feel so guilty I was not there to protect my little girl," he added.

Christopher Braithwaite
Braithwaite attacked his victim while she was alone in her flat

Her mother Lorraine said their grandson had nightmares and became hysterical if strangers came to the house.

Prosecutor Victor Temple QC said the crime was "a particularly grave sexually-motivated murder".

"This defendant, addicted to crack cocaine, carried out a violent sexual assault on a defenceless young woman which in turn involved an element of sexual abuse accompanied by strangulation," Mr Temple added.

A post-mortem examination also found she had been stabbed.

He said that after the killing, Braithwaite did nothing to alert anyone to the presence of a baby on its own in the flat and that he returned after the murder to steal a telephone, some jewellery and a pedal bike.

Mr Temple said after Braithwaite was arrested over claims of rape and false imprisonment on 9 August he was questioned and released on police bail.

Disadvantaged family

"There were, of course, possible potential allegations to be charged against him," he said. "He wasn't charged at the time."

Braithwaite was subsequently charged over alleged rape, but the charges, and others relating to another woman, were all allowed to lie on file.

The charges include rape, false imprisonment and actual bodily harm, involving "manual strangulation".

Oliver Blunt QC, defending, said Braithwaite was suffering from a personality disorder, worsened by his use of drugs and that he came from a "somewhat disadvantaged family".

Braithwaite had a previous conviction for wounding after he stabbed a man in 2005.

Sentencing, Judge Kramer said: "She was only 23 years old. She was with her 10-month old son.

"What you did in killing her, robbing her family of a much-loved daughter and sister, has been devastating to them."


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