Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008 16:58 UK

'Modern Ripper' murdered mothers

Derek Brown
Brown admitted paying for sex with both women, but denied murder

A sex attacker who police believed may have tried to emulate Jack the Ripper has been found guilty of killing two women whose bodies are yet to be found.

Derek Brown, 47, denied murdering Xiao Mei Guo, 29, and Bonnie Barrett, 24, after taking them back to his flat in Rotherhithe, east London.

He picked up his victims in the Whitechapel area, famously stalked by Jack the Ripper in the 1880s.

Police say Brown, originally from Preston, may have sought "notoriety".

Mrs Guo's husband said he did not have the "courage" to tell his sons, who still live in Fujian province in southern China, about their mother's death.

'Soft targets'

Police believe loner Brown could have been embarking on a killing spree when he was arrested and he had expressed a desire to be "famous", according to a friend.

Det Ch Insp Mark Kandiah said: "If he kept killing prostitutes from the Whitechapel area, then that link (with Jack the Ripper) would be made.

"If this was a spree, it seems likely that we stopped him at number two."

Bonnie Barrett, 24, and Xiao Mei Guo, 29,
The bodies of Bonnie Barrett and Xiao Mei Guo have never been found

But detectives have launched a nationwide review of unsolved cases to see whether Brown has links to any of them.

The court heard Brown was a convicted rapist and a serial sex attacker who was a suspect in another murder case outside London.

He has been identified by victims in five other rapes over the past two decades.

He denied murder, but admitted paying DVD seller Mrs Guo and prostitute Miss Barrett for sex before their disappearance last year.

Mrs Guo was last seen in August 2007 selling DVDs in the market and CCTV pictures showed her with Mr Brown by Whitechapel Tube station.

Miss Barrett disappeared from the same area on 18 September 2007.


CCTV pictures show Derek Brown with Xiao Mei Guo

The prosecution in the Old Bailey trial said Brown targeted the women as "both lived on the edge of society and both were soft targets for the killer, who thought that neither woman would be missed".

The court heard 65 separate blood spots and smears were found in Mr Brown's flat and there appeared to have been attempts to clean them off.

During a search of Brown's flat police found a receipt for items including a bow saw, heavy duty gloves, cleaning materials and rubble sacks.

But the bodies of Mrs Guo and Miss Barrett have never been found, despite 800 hours of police searches and a trawl of the Thames by divers.

'Callous murder'

Following the verdict Det Ch Insp Mark Kandiah said: "Derek Brown targeted these women because of their vulnerability. He thought no one would care.

"Xiao Mei and Bonnie did have unconventional lifestyles but they were vibrant young women with friends, families and children.

"His callous murder of them and the concealment of their bodies has devastated their families in a way that is hard to comprehend.

"Brown's motives remain unclear. He is a convicted rapist, which may indicate his intentions, but for a man of his age to kill two women in a few weeks may indicate he sought notoriety.

I have tried to tell them (Mrs Guo's sons) but I really don't have the courage to tell them the truth

Victim's husband

"It is my view that he would have killed again if not stopped. He has shown no hint of remorse and he deserves a lengthy sentence."

Judge Martin Stephens warned Brown he would face a life sentence with a minimum term that was "very substantial indeed" in what he called a "terrible case".

Speaking before Brown was convicted, Mr Guo said: "The body still has not been found. It is really very difficult for me to accept the truth.

"It seems that there will be no closure."

"They (his sons) don't know about this. I have tried to tell them but I really don't have the courage to tell them the truth."

He added his wife was a "very beautiful, traditional and thoughtful person and what she really wanted was her family to have a happy and bright future."

Brown will be sentenced on 6 October.


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