“You are an appalling dangerous man”
Blonde and beautiful heiress Janie Shepherd, a 24-year-old Australian, seemed to have it all. At 8.40pm on Friday 4 February 1977 she left 103 Clifton Hill, St John’s Wood, London, the luxury home she shared with her cousin, Camilla Sampson, and Camilla’s husband, Alastair, eager to start the weekend with boyfriend Roddy Kinkead-Weekes, a cricketer with the MCC, at his flat in Lennox Gardens, Knightsbridge. Janie stopped off at the Europa supermarket on Queensway to buy trout, chicory, tomatoes and yoghurt for their dinner. Then she disappeared.
The next day at 3.15am she was reported missing and on 8 February her dark blue Mini was found in Elgin Crescent, Notting Hill, covered in mud. It had been slashed inside with a knife and given two parking tickets. There were, however, few clues to be had from it. Police waited for a ransom demand but none came. Janie’s mother and stepfather arrived from Australia two days later to conduct their own search but no clues surfaced and weeks went by. Police interviewed all known sex offenders in the locale. Janie’s parents returned to Australia on 12 April and six days later two schoolboys found Janie’s body in an area called Devil’s Dyke on Nomansland Common, south of Harpenden in Hertfordshire. It was ten weeks and six days since her disappearance.
An autopsy showed that Janie had died from compression of the neck but the pathologist was unable to say whether it was manual or the result of a firm object being pressed against it. Oddly, when her body was found, it was clad in slightly different clothes from the ones she was wearing when she disappeared. Decomposition of the body made it difficult to ascertain whether she had been raped or sexually assaulted. The police took 825 statements but seemed no nearer to catching her killer when the coroner’s jury returned a verdict of murder by person or persons unknown
Queensway, London, England
9pm Friday 4 February 1977
The prime suspect in the case was a West Indian boxer called David Lashley. On 13 December 1977 he was jailed for 18 years for a number of crimes including attempted murder and two rapes (one of a young blonde woman). Shortly before Lashley was due to be released he told inmate Daniel Reece how he had waylaid Janie on Queensway before abducting, raping and murdering her.
At 7am on 17 February 1989 Lashley was released from Frankland Prison and immediately arrested for the murder of Janie Shepherd. On 19 March 1990 after two and a quarter hours’ deliberation the jury found Lashley guilty of murder andhe was jailed for life. Mr Justice Alliott said, “You are such an appalling dangerous man that the real issue is whether the authorities can ever allow you your liberty in your natural lifetime.”