Was Claire Tiltman’s Real Killer Convicted?

Lolly True crime
9 min readJul 14, 2022


Claire Tiltman was 16 when she was brutally murdered

Reposted from my former Blogger site. . .

Claire Tiltman’s murder investigation was not completed until some twenty-one years after she was killed. On December 12th 2014 Colin Ash-Smith was convicted of her murder, based on circumstantial evidence and previous bad character reference only, not a scrap of physical evidence exists to indicate that he was in fact the killer.

The question here is, was the right man convicted of the murder of 16-year-old Claire Tiltman or was it indeed someone else? Let’s delve into the case and draw our own conclusion.

Claire Tiltman was murdered, just four days after her 16th birthday on January 18th 1993 in a town called Greenhithe, in Kent, England. She was 16-years-old and a pupil at Dartford Grammar School for Girls. She made a shortcut on her way to a friend’s house to study and was brutally murdered by being stabbed at least forty times in a vicious and frenzied attack. She was approximately one hundred steps away from a busy main road at the time.

There seems to have been no particular reason for the attack and thus it seems it was very much a random act of dreadful violence, why, I guess we may never truly know.

Claire was seen quite quickly by a passer-by as she tried to stagger to the main street, the passer-by raised the alarm, but sadly the teenager died at the scene before she could even be taken to hospital. Despite a massive police investigation, her murder remained unsolved for some twenty-three years.

A witness at the time of the killing reported seeing Colin Ash-Smith close to the scene of the killing and he appeared to be in a hurry and as a result, he was questioned by the police on more than one occasion but he was not considered a major suspect and was released without charge.

It is worthy of note that Colin Ash-Smith, although reported to have been in a hurry did not appear to be covered in blood, which it is my belief the killer would have been. To be fair Claire had not just been stabbed once, but some forty times so there would have been a massive amount of blood loss and her attacker would have been spattered in quite a lot of it.

Consider this carefully, Chief Superintendent Neil Jerome, the divisional police commander for North Kent was a police constable at the time of Claire’s murder and had been on patrol at the time of the alarm being raised. In January 2013 he told reporters; “I remember getting the initial call and being told that an accident had happened. Obviously, when we arrived at the scene things quickly changed to a serious assault. There was very little to go on in the early stages, I was tasked to look around the neighbourhood, to see if there was anyone around, anyone covered in blood, any witnesses but there was nothing”.

Just keep those last words in mind, “there was nothing”.

Chief Inspector Jerome further recalls that he was also on duty at Claire’s funeral and said that “A huge amount of effort went into those early stages, it was a busy night in an area which would have been mostly used by local people, but there was no sign of a killer and no one as regard witnesses”.

Interestingly 0n Thursday, September 12th 2013 the former home of Colin Ash-Smith in Myrtle Place, Stone, near Dartford, Kent was searched by police as part of a cold case review

The former home of Colin Ash-Smith searched in 2013

During the raid, police were seen taking away several bags of what was thought to be evidence, yet still, Ash-Smith was not interviewed further, nor was he charged with the crime.

His father, Aubrey, who still lived at the property stuck two fingers up to reporters who had converged on the street and told them “The police have searched here twice before, I wish they would stop hounding us and leave us alone”. Mr Ash-Smith senior also told reporters that his son Colin was innocent of any connection to Claire Tiltman’s murder.

However, in December 2014 Ash-Smith was sentenced to serve a minimum of 21 years in custody for the murder of Claire Tiltman, he was already serving three life sentences for attacks on two other women.

Convicted Killer Colin Ash-Smith

Now, this is where things get interesting. Colin Ash-Smith had originally been questioned in 1993 and 1995 about the Claire Tiltman killing but had on all occasions denied any part in the murder, then on the same day as he was due to go before the parole board for his release to be considered he was charged with the crime. Does that not just seem just slightly questionable?

He had served nineteen years behind bars and was deemed suitable to be considered for parole, but that all came to a halt when he was charged with killing Claire.

His mother, former councillor and local mayor, Diane Ash-Smith had given him an alibi in 1993, stating that her son had been driving her home after dropping off leaflets at the time of the murder. It is said that this alibi was in fact false and also claimed that she ‘used’ her position as a councillor to quiz detectives about the Tiltman case, particularly about a car seen in the area that matched Colin’s.

Mrs Ash-Smith later said in a TV interview that she had told her then councillor husband to dispose of a knife from the house when their son was originally questioned by the police.

Aubrey Ash-Smith was sentenced to six months in prison in 1997 for perverting the course of justice after he sawed up and boiled a knife blade and then dumped it in a bush. Again, bear in mind he was convicted in 1997 yet if this was related evidence in the Claire Tiltman case, why was Colin not charged then?

Aubrey Ash-Smith was sentenced to six months in prison

It was claimed that Claire’s case bore many similarities to the other crimes that Ash-Smith was convicted of and whilst is quite clear that Colin Ash-Smith was somewhat obsessed with knives, Jack-the-ripper and he was a loner there was actually very little by way of physical evidence to convict him of killing Claire Tiltman

For quite some time he worked as a local milkman, although at the time of Claire’s murder he was, in fact, working on a production line manufacturing belts for industrial machinery.

Enter My Other Suspect

This is Robert Napper, convicted rapist and murderer

Robert Clive Napper has been convicted of two horrific murders, one manslaughter, two rapes and two attempted rapes.

It is thought that he may well have been responsible for many more heinous crimes, that have either not yet been solved or someone else convicted wrongly of them.

Napper was convicted of the double murder of Samantha Bisset and her little girl Jazmine in 1993 then in 2008, he was convicted on the charge of manslaughter of Rachel Nickell on 15th July 1992.

He has the nicknames, ‘The Plumstead Ripper’ and ‘The Green Chain Rapist’ and it seems highly likely that he could have been responsible for at least two more killings and maybe over a hundred rapes.

Robert Napper has been diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and Asperger’s syndrome. His first conviction was a relatively minor crime involving possession of an air rifle, but then began his much more serious offending when he allegedly raped a 30-year-old woman in front of her children in a house that backed onto Plumstead Common, not far from his home. He had admitted the offence to his mother but, despite her having contacted the police the claim did not fit any cases on police record at the time.

Rachel Nickell was stabbed more than forty times in 1992

On July 15th 1992, Napper lay in wait in bushes on Wimbledon Common, London, watching 23-year-old Rachel Nickell as she walked with her two-year-old son. Robert Napper chose his moment and proceeded to slash and stab his target at least forty-two times.

Think about the similarity to the killing of Claire Tiltman, she was subjected to a frenzied attack, slashed and stabbed forty times, so this is a major similarity.

Napper managed to evade justice in this case for several years as the Metropolitan Police wrongly tracked and targeted an innocent man, Colin Stagg. He was convicted of the murder without a scrap of real evidence, however, he was eventually acquitted and released from prison when Napper after a lengthy case review and investigation Napper eventually pleaded guilty to the vicious killing in 2008.

So here we have the ultimate point, detectives got it wrong in their initial investigation into Rachel Nickell’s murder and they clearly didn’t want Ash-Smith out on parole so there is the dilemma. There is at least one former police officer who, like me believes that Colin Ash-Smith is currently serving a minimum of 21 years in prison for a murder he maintains his innocence of.

If you have any information, even after all these years then please contact Crimestoppers at 0800 555 111 or contact them anonymously via their website.

I will be back very soon with another case and in the meantime, of course if you would like to discuss this case or any true crime matter with me then I am always happy to hear from you.

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These points were brought to my attention by a friend/colleague and I feel they need to be passed on here

Okay so; 20-year-old Alison Shaughessy was stabbed 54 times in her flat in Battersea, South London in June 1991.

Penny Bell was 54-years-old when she was stabbed some 50 times in her car, whilst parked in a leisure centre car park in West London

23-year-old Rachel Nickell was stabbed 49 times out on Wimbledon Common, South London in July 1992

School girl Claire Tiltman had just celebrated he 16th birthday when she was stabbed approximately 49 times in an alleyway in Dartford, South West London in January 1993

Jean Bradley, may not be connected, but I feel she probably was a victim of the same killer. She was only stabbed 8 times but, the attacker was disturbed by a passer-by. This attack took place close to her car in Acton, West London in March 1993. She was aged 47

Finally, 27-year-old Samantha Bissett was stabbed multiple times and her 4-year-old daughter Jazmine was suffocated in their home in Plumstead, South London in November 1993

Strangely, it seems the gruesome killing spree stopped after that and then Robert Napper was arrested and finally charged with the Bisset murders in May 1994. Makes me think that there is a definite pattern here.

I know my friend is working on some further research on this, so I may be able to bring you more in the coming days

If you have anything else to bring me on this then please get in touch



Lolly True crime

Lolly’s True Crime World cold case review specialists, researchers, and Unsolved crime investigation is our passion. Buy me a coffee buymeacoffee.com/?via=lolly