South Korean student Jong-Ok Shin, 26, known as Oki, was stabbed to death in 2002
A man jailed for nearly 20 years for a murder he says he did not commit hopes that new CCTV footage discovered by a BBC investigation will give him an alibi and clear his name.
South Korean student Jong-Ok Shin, 26, known as Oki, was stabbed to death in the street while walking home from a night out in Bournemouth in 2002.
Omar Benguit, 48, a heroin addict and petty crook, was tried three times for the killing and finally convicted in 2005 after a key prosecution witness, a prostitute and heroin addict known as BB, claimed that she had witnessed the murder.
She told police and the jury that following the murder at 2.50am she went with Benguit to a crack house in St Clements Road, Bournemouth.
Now, BBC reporter Bronagh Munro has discovered CCTV images which cast serious doubt on the vital evidence – and Benguit’s conviction – appearing to show him more than a mile away from where the witness claimed, less than half an hour after the murder.
The series of CCTV images from the night first show Benguit at the Richmond Arms pub in Charminster – he was caught on camera at 8.36pm – before moving to the Slam bar, in Bournemouth town centre, pictured at 10.28pm, which all accords with the prosecution timeline.
Now, BBC reporter Bronagh Munro has discovered CCTV images which cast serious doubt on the vital evidence – and Benguit’s conviction – appearing to show him more than a mile away from where the witness claimed, less than half an hour after the murder
Omar Benguit (pictured), 48, a heroin addict and petty crook, was tried three times for the killing and finally convicted in 2005 after a key prosecution witness, a prostitute and heroin addict known as BB, claimed that she had witnessed the murder
Munro believes that the police have always known about the footage which might clear him. ‘What’s shocking is that the police knew about the crucial CCTV images back in 2002 but Omar wasn’t shown them,’ she said. Pictured, Benguit at the Richmond arms and Slam Bar
But at 3.16am, he was filmed walking past a phone box in the Charminster Road on his way home, not in the crack house getting cleaned up following the horrific murder, as BB suggested.
‘If this man is Omar, it changes everything,’ said Munro. ‘It’s impossible for Omar to be both on the street by the phone box and in the crack house.’
Benguit’s lawyer Des Jenson, who yesterday joined his sister Amie Benguit in applying to the Criminal Cases Review Commission for a third appeal, is convinced there has been a ‘grave miscarriage of justice’.
‘I think this is the key to the whole case,’ he told the programme. This is a still that I have never seen, that bears a strong resemblance to Omar.
BB gave police three different accounts of the night – in her final statement she claimed that she had given Benguit a lift to the murder scene and then onto a crack house. She stands by her evidence.
‘According to the evidence given by BB at trial at this time Omar was in a crack house with her. If he is shown to be walking down Charminster Road at this time it completely undermines the evidence that she has given,’ said Munro.
‘When I first picked up this case, my initial impression was that this is a miscarriage of justice and everything I’ve read since then, everyone I’ve spoken to, everything I’ve seen has only further convinced me that my initial impression was the right one.’
Ok Sin is pictured, left, in CCTV footage of her before her death and, right, the appeal launched to find information surrounding the murder
The investigation into the murder of Oki Shin was complex as 13 of the witnesses were addicts. She was able to tell police before her death she was brutally stabbed in the back with a six-inch knife by a man in a mask. Pictured, Oki Shin’s clothes at the murder scene
Munro believes that the police have always known about the footage which might clear him. ‘What’s shocking is that the police knew about the crucial CCTV images back in 2002 but Omar wasn’t shown them,’ she said.
‘I found a statement from the police officer who conducted all Omar’s interviews. He says he knows what Omar looks like because of this. He’s the same officer who identifies him in other CCTV images that night.
In his statement he talks about the man that I found at 3.15am beside the phone box and he says: ‘This man resembles the appearance of Omar Benguit. So it’s not just me that thinks this man could be Omar Benguit. The police thought it could too.’
The investigation into the murder of Oki Shin was complex as 13 of the witnesses were addicts. She was able to tell police before her death she was brutally stabbed in the back with a six-inch knife by a man in a mask.
In the programme Unsolved: An Alibi for Omar, Munro tracked down 12 witnesses, all of whom claimed that they were pressurised by police into making false statements. Five admitted lying in court.
Munro believes police should focus a new investigation into convicted double murderer Danilo Restivo, known as the ‘hair fetishist’, who lived just three streets away from the murder scene in Bournemouth at the time.
He was jailed for life in 2011 for the horrific murder of his neighbour Heather Barnett, after he bludgeoned her with a hammer, cut her throat and mutilated her body, leaving a clump of someone else’s hair in her hand.
Months later he was convicted in his absence of a similar ritualistic slaughter of a 16-year-old girl in his home town of Potenza, in Italy, in 1994.
Intriguingly, both murders occurred on the 12th of the month — as did Oki’s.
Restivo’s girlfriend, now wife, Fiamma Marsango, had given him an alibi for the night of Oki’s murder, claiming she was a light sleeper and was certain he was in bed at the time of her death.
BBC journalist Bronagh Munro says police should further investigate double murderer Danilo Restivo (left) who lived in Bournemouth at the time of the murder Benguit (right) was jailed for
The knife that was found in Restivo’s bag when he was arrested in a park while spying on women matched the type that pathologists believed killed Oki
Restivo was jailed for life in 2011 for the horrific murder of his neighbour Heather Barnett (pictured) after he bludgeoned her with a hammer, cut her throat and mutilated her body
But Munro tracked down a friend of Marsango who cast doubt on the alibi, claiming that the couple slept in different rooms.
The woman, who did not want to be identified, went to police after she heard the couple talking about the murder but, she claimed, the officers weren’t interested.
‘Restivo was saying she was killed with a kitchen knife, a chef’s knife,’ she said, ‘but the thing I thought is: ‘How does he know? How does he know that she was killed with whatever because it had never been said then how she was killed.
‘They (the police) didn’t want to know. They said: “He’s the right one Benguit.” That was it. They were adamant that he was the one that did it.
‘He (Restivo) used to disappear a lot and Fiamma used to wonder where he was. He used to go missing for quite a long time and she always said: ‘I don’t know where he goes but he goes missing.’
‘She told me he was sleeping downstairs. They didn’t sleep in the same bedroom room. Her room was upstairs. His was downstairs by the door.’
Munro believes that Restivo’s questionable alibi casts even more doubt on Benguit’s conviction. ‘There’s a victim whose dying words were ignored, a double murderer who wasn’t investigated properly, five prosecution witnesses who admit lying in court and CCTV footage that could give Omar Benguit an alibi,’ she added. ‘But he’s now spent almost 20 years in prison for murder.’
Speaking in a BBC documentary, Omar Benguit said he’d rather die in jail saying he didn’t do the crime than be free
Dorset Police refused to be interviewed but released a statement saying that the investigation into Oki’s murder was ‘thorough, detailed and very complex’. There was sufficient evidence to charge Omar Benguit, they said, and he was unanimously convicted.
The police said they would ‘instigate investigations if directed by the courts and responsible authorities’ and that ‘our thoughts are with Oki’s family and friends who remain devastated by their loss’.
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