A 35-year-old man, who was extradited from India last year, has been found guilty of carrying out a string of rapes and murder in the UK more than a decade ago.
Aman Vyas was convicted of the rape and murder of Michelle Samaraweera and the rape of three other women, offences which took place at locations across Walthamstow in north east London between March 2009 and May 2009. In addition to being found guilty of murdering Samaraweera, Vyas was found guilty of one count of section 18 grievous bodily harm and six counts of rape at the end of a trial at the Old Bailey court in London on Thursday. He will be sentenced at Croydon Crown Court in south London next month.
"There has been a long wait for justice in this case but finally the victims and their families have seen the person responsible brought to account," said Detective Sergeant Shaleena Sheikh, the Metropolitan Police officer involved with the case. "Vyas did all he could to avoid responsibility for his crimes. He fled abroad and then added to the distress of those he hurt by making them go through the ordeal of a trial. However, the injuries Vyas inflicted told the true story of this violent criminal and the jury have seen right through his lies," the detective said.
"Although we had DNA from the scenes of his crimes, Vyas was not on the DNA database and was a complete stranger to his victims; to bring him to justice required an extraordinary investigation. This case lasted more than 10 years, needed enquiries in many different countries and finally a lengthy extradition process," she added.
A manhunt commenced to trace Vyas over 10 years ago. In 2011, police enquiries revealed at one stage that Vyas was in New Zealand, he then made his way to Singapore and then the trail went cold.
It was in July 2011, that UK police were informed by Indian authorities that they had arrested Vyas, an Indian national, at New Delhi Airport in India as he tried to take an outbound flight. Extradition proceedings commenced at that time, but it was not until October 4, 2019, that Met Police officers escorted the defendant from Indira Gandhi Airport in New Delhi to London Heathrow that he was arrested and charged with the offences.
It then made it possible to get a full DNA sample from Vyas and the DNA findings were 1 billion times more likely to have come from Vyas, rather than from some other person, the Met Police said. At the end of the trial this week, Vyas was also found not guilty of one count of possession of a bladed weapon.
The court heard how Vyas' offending began when he was 24 years old. He would go out in the early hours of the morning looking for lone women to target and covered a relatively small area of Walthamstow for the purpose. The first incident involved a woman, who was then aged 59, and was followed as she walked back home. As the woman returned to her flat Vyas pushed his way in and sexually assaulted her. The woman was taken to hospital where doctors noted bruising and swelling to her face and bleeding in the white of one of her eyes.
As a result of forensic examination, partial DNA was recovered. A partial profile means that not all DNA components were present to complete a full DNA profile. However, police could confirm that the person who carried out the offences was not on the DNA database. The second attack involved a 46-year-old woman out for a walk and was also approached by Vyas who pulled out a knife and punched her in the face, raped her and then fled the scene. A forensic examination of the scene again found only a partial DNA sample.
The third attack was on a 32-year-old woman, also walking back home, before she woke up with severe injuries in hospital. The court was told that the woman was in hospital for more than a month while her injuries were treated. The last attack culminated in the murder of Samaraweera, a 35-year-old widow who lived alone. A post-mortem examination revealed that she had been strangled and subjected to a sexual assault and once again a DNA sample was retrieved.
"Vyas' crimes were wicked and relentless and I am thankful that such violent predators are rare. To anyone who is the victim of sexual assault or violent crime, this case shows the determination of the Met to bring those responsible to justice," said Sheikh. "The sheer scale of the investigation was also remarkable. There were extensive media appeals, and thousands of homes and businesses were contacted, in person or through leaflets.
"Thousands of men volunteered to assist by voluntarily giving DNA. I would like to personally like to thank all those who helped, it was through those extensive efforts that Vyas was finally identified and brought to justice," she added.