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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 November, 2003, 14:43 GMT
Life for Nicola's killer
Colin Waite
Colin Waite: Trapped by DNA evidence
A father-of-three has been jailed for life for murdering a 17-year-old girl who was raped and battered to death more than seven years ago.

Colin Waite was found guilty by a jury at Warwick Crown Court on Wednesday.

Waite, 42, of Kinver Croft, Highgate, Birmingham, killed A-level student Nicola Dixon in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, as she walked to a party on New Year's Eve 1996.

DNA evidence taken from Waite after a road rage attack in 2002 meant that there was a "billion-to-one" chance that anyone else could have killed Nicola.

However, police admitted the same method could have trapped Waite just months after the murder - but a packaging error meant the sample was never tested.

Sentencing Waite, Mr Justice Hughes described him as a violent and dangerous man who had committed the crime for sexual gratification.

Nicola Dixon
You attacked this girl of 17 when she was a complete stranger
Mr Justice Hughes

"You attacked this girl of 17 when she was a complete stranger," he said.

"You were nearly 20 years older than she was."

He added: "You raped her and you killed her using considerable violence to achieve your sexual ends, or possibly to prevent her from reporting what you had done."

The jury took just 25 minutes to unanimously convict Waite.

They had heard how he "came out of the night" to murder Nicola.

Her body was found in the grounds of a rectory in Sutton Coldfield on New Year's Day 1997.

Waite, who claimed the prosecution's evidence had been made up, broke down in tears after the verdict.

Relatives and friends of the defendant shouted from the public gallery and one was detained by police after a stick was used to attack camera crews waiting outside the court.

Officers had taken a mouth swab sample from Waite in July 1997 when they arrested him for a vicious assault on his former girlfriend Christine Lowndes.

But errors made in packaging the sample meant it failed the standards set by the Forensic Science Service, who sent it back to West Midlands Police before it was destroyed.

Police And Criminal Evidence Act rules meant they could not take another DNA swab from Waite at the time.

It was only when Waite was arrested in August 2002 for a road rage attack in Birmingham city centre that police were able to take another DNA mouth swab which provided an exact match with the crucial sample taken from Nicola's murder scene.

Nicola's parents Andy and Rita Dixon said after the hearing that justice had finally been done.




SEE ALSO:
Nicola's parents 'never gave up hope'
19 Nov 03  |  West Midlands
Violent history of Nicola's murderer
19 Nov 03  |  West Midlands
Man 'raped and killed' student
11 Nov 03  |  West Midlands


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