Page last updated at 18:27 GMT, Monday, 19 January 2009

Man guilty of transsexual murder

Robyn Browne
Robyn Browne was just 23 when she was murdered in central London

A roofer has been found guilty in the 11-year-old murder case of a transsexual prostitute in London.

James Hopkins, 42, from Leeds, was traced in 2007 using evidence linking him to palm prints left at the scene of the February 1997 killing.

The victim, Robyn Browne, was a 23-year-old pre-operative transsexual.

She was found with nine stab wounds to the chest and neck in a flat in Marylebone, central London. Hopkins will be sentenced on 22 January.

Hopkins, of Bawn Drive, Farnley in Leeds, will serve a minimum term still to be decided.

Nicholas Hilliard, prosecuting, told the jury that after so much time had passed, Hopkins "must have thought he had got away with it".

Hopkins had testified that he was present when Ms Browne was murdered, but said another man had committed the murder.

DNA advances

Met police say advances in DNA evidence aided their investigation and led them to Hopkins.

James Hopkins
Hopkins was living and working in Leeds when police traced him

Those advances included matching bloody palm prints found at the scene with those in a new national database.

Det Insp Steve Smith, of the Homicide and Serious Crime Command, said: "We were able to bring Hopkins before the courts with advances in technology that were not available to us at the time of the murder.

"The Met police remain committed in the pursuit of violent criminals, and let this case send out a warning that unsolved case files are never closed."

In a statement, Ms Browne's family thanked the police, the prosecution team and their liaison officer for their efforts. They also thanked the jury for their unanimous verdict.

Ms Browne was born James Errol Browne, but was undergoing sex-change treatment at the time of her death.

Ms Browne's sister, Louise, said: "Now there can be some sort of closure. Her death impacts on those who knew her."



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