A MAN has been charged with the murder of teenager Claire Tiltman who was stabbed in death in Greenhithe 21 years ago.

Colin Ash-Smith, 45, will appear at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court on February 28 via video link accused of killing the 16-year-old.

Dartford schoolgirl Claire was stabbed multiple times in an alleyway near her home in Greenhithe in 1993, four days after her 16th birthday.

Nigel Pilkington, head of the complex casework unit for the Crown Prosecution Service South East, said: “In November 2012 I received a file of evidence from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate relating to the murder of Claire Tiltman on January 18, 1993.

“The investigation by the police has been a lengthy and complex one.

“Following further investigation, my review of all the evidence in the case has now been completed and I have concluded there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest to prosecute Colin Ash-Smith, 45, for the murder of Claire Tiltman on January 18, 1993 in Greenhithe, Kent.”

Senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Rob Vinson, from the Kent and Essex serious crime directorate cold case team, said: “Claire Tiltman’s unsolved death is one of the longest-running cases for Kent Police and has remained in the forefront of the minds of investigating officers for more than two-decades.

“Colin Ash-Smith is now to be brought before a court following our investigations and subsequent consultation with the CPS."

A spokesman for the Justice for Claire team said: "We have been told today of the decision to go ahead with a prosecution relating to the murder of our dear friend.

"We welcome this decision on what is a very emotional day for us all and we would like to thank Kent Police and the CPS for never giving up.

"I am sure you will understand we cannot comment further at this time but would like to thank everyone for their support."

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson added: “I have today spoken to the police officer leading the investigation in this case.

“Clearly this is a hugely significant development. Due process must now follow. We will all be watching the legal proceedings with huge interest.

“For legal reasons it would be wrong at this stage to comment further. “