A man has been jailed for life for killing Rachel Manning more than a decade after her boyfriend Barri White was wrongly jailed for the crime. Shahidul Ahmed was convicted today following a trial at Luton Crown Court for the murder of the teenager who was found strangled in undergrowth at Woburn Golf Club in December 2000.
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Barri White was acquitted in 2008 following the BBC Rough Justice documentary Murder Without A Trace which challenged his 2002 conviction for her murder. A friend, Keith Hyatt was wrongly convicted of helping White was also cleared. ‘When innocent people are convicted, the guilty remain free to commit further crimes as they see fit,’ commented former Rough Justice producer Louise Shorter, now of Inside Justice. ‘Shahidul Ahmed committed at least one serious sexual offence after Barri White and Keith Hyatt were wrongly convicted. Without Rough Justice it’s likely Barri would still be in prison and Ahmed would never have been brought to justice for Rachel Manning’s murder. Lack of concern about miscarriages of justice doesn’t deter crime; it encourages it. It’s a pity the BBC can no longer find the resources to make programmes like Rough Justice.’
Barri White said that he felt ‘over the moon that justice has finally been done and really happy that Rachel’s family have finally got justice and the closure they deserve’. ‘If it wasn’t for Rough Justice I wouldn’t be sitting here right now, a free man,’ he said. ‘The help they gave to me was amazing. All the help that programme gave to all those innocent people over the years was incredible. I still can’t believe the BBC took it off the air. Innocent people need the voice that Rough Justice gave them.’
Mark Daly, former Rough Justice reporter and now a BBC investigations correspondent, said that the case highlighted ‘how important Rough Justice was, not just for the innocent prisoner with nowhere else to turn, but for the pursuit of real justice for the families of murder victims’. ‘In this case the Manning family have had to endure four trials; more than any grieving family should have to go through. But ultimately, the wrong men had been imprisoned in the first place and it was thanks to Rough Justice that was put right. I mourn its passing from BBC schedules, and still hope it will return one day.’
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon's books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council's journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year's Criminal Justice Alliance's journalism award