Claire Tiltman murder: Police raid former home of man convicted of attempted murder (From News Shopper)
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Claire Tiltman murder: Police raid former home of Colin Ash-Smith, convicted of attempted murder
POLICE investigating the death of teenager Claire Tiltman have today searched the former home of a man convicted of attempted murder.
Detectives swooped on a semi-detached house in Myrtle Place, Stone, this morning, which was formerly occupied by Colin Ash-Smith.
The 43-year-old was handed three life sentences in 1996 for attacks on three woman, including the attempted murder of one and the attempted rape and kidnap of another.
He stabbed 21-year-old Charlotte Barnard more than 14 times in October 1995, yards from the alleyway in London Road, Swanscombe, where Claire was murdered.
At a Maidstone Crown Court hearing, he admitted grievous bodily harm with intent in relation to the attack on Miss Barnard, which saw her suffer nine stab wounds to her back and five defence wounds.
Claire's best friend Lisa Gribbin, 36, organised a candlelit walk earlier this year to mark the 20th anniversary since her death.
She said: “We are all quite shocked by what’s happened today.
“Until her killer is caught we can’t rest. He or she could be walking the streets after taking such a beautiful young person who had her whole life in front of her.
“Nobody deserves what Claire had to go through. We still all miss her everyday. It’s as painful as it was 20 years ago. The emotion’s been unbearable, it gets very, very hard.
“There’s been a lot of hopes dashed in those 20 years and you just hope it will come eventually. That’s how you keep going in belief and hope her killer will be brought to justice.
“We have to hope the police will get their man or woman.
“I would like to say to everyone involved, the police and everyone for their support. We couldn’t keep going without them.”
Aubrey Ash-Smith outside his home in Myrtle Place. (Picture: Invicta Kent Media, Sidcup)
Mr Ash-Smith, father of Colin, gave a one-fingered salute to reporters gathered outside his house he shares with his wife Diane.
He said: "They've (police) tried twice before, I wish they would stop hounding us."
When asked whether Colin is innocent, Mr Ash-Smith replied: “As far as I'm concerned, yes."
Neighbours have described their shock at witnessing police swoop on their quiet cul-de-sac off Watling Street.
James Monks, 65, a friend of Mr and Mrs Ash-Smith who has lived in Myrtle Place for 30 years, said: "I got up to have my breakfast at just after 8am and went to the kitchen and saw the police outside. It came as quite a shock.
"Then all the photographers came down and more police. It's always been very quiet down here."
Neighbour James Monks has been left shocked by the police raid
Neighbour Denise Crowhurst, 54, said: "We didn't know what was happening. Living in an area like this we're not used to this kind of thing."
Her friend Samantha Welch, who was living in Cobham Terrace, Greenhithe close to where Claire was murdered more than 20 years ago.
She said: "I was only about 5 or 6 years old and don't remember too much about it.
"People still put flowers down at the scene."
No arrests have been made at this stage.
Claire was stabbed to death in an alleyway off the A226 London Road in Greenhithe, four days after her 16th birthday.
A Kent Police spokeswoman said: "It is standard practice that undetected murders such as Claire's will be reviewed regularly.
"The activity is part of that on-going review.”
The raid comes eight months after the 20th anniversary of Claire's death, which was marked by a candlelit vigil near the alleyway where she died.
Dartford MP Gareth Johnson, who attended the vigil for Claire in January, said: "Clearly the effort to secure justice for Claire continues.
"I am reassured Kent Police are working diligently, leaving no stone unturned to bring Claire’s killer to justice.
"This is very much an active investigation and that should be welcomed.”