Monday, 28 Sep 2020

'E17 Night Stalker', 35, is jailed for at least 37 years

‘E17 Night Stalker’, 35, is jailed for at least 37 years for three-month rape and murder spree in east London after eight-year battle to get him extradited from India

  • Aman Vyas, 35, raped three women and raped and murdered a fourth in 2009
  • Today he was jailed for life Croydon Crown Court with minimum term of 37 years
  • Dubbed the ‘E17-night stalker’, Vyas targeted women around Walthamstow 
  • Among his victims was 35-year-old Michelle Samaraweera, who was murdered 
  • Vyas fled to India two days after a Crimewatch appeal showed an accurate E-fit 

A man dubbed the ‘E17 Night Stalker’, 35, has been jailed for at least 37 years for a three-month rape and murder spree in east London after an eight-year battle to get him extradited from India.

Aman Vyas was sentenced today for six counts of rape of four women, grievous bodily harm and the 2009 murder of 35-year-old Michelle Samaraweera, following a trial at Croydon Crown Court.

Prosecutor Tom Little QC called Vyas ‘the E17 night stalker’ as he told jurors the attacker turned a small area near his home in Walthamstow into his ‘hunting ground’ for a ‘series of violent rapes’ between March and May 2009.

He fled the UK after a Crimewatch appeal featuring an e-fit picture, and was arrested in India in 2011 after his ex-boss gave police a water bottle Vyas’s brother had drunk from, which showed partial DNA linked to the crimes was a male sibling. 

As she faced the killer in court, Ms Samaraweera’s sister said she would visit him in prison if he finally confesses and remembered her ‘baby sister’ as ‘a lovely, gentle, caring person’ who was ‘considerate towards people and thoughtful’.


Aman Vyas, 35, has been jailed for at least 37 years for a three-month rape and murder spree in east London that saw him murder one victim before he fled to India

Vyas spotted Michelle Samaraweera entering a store in Walthamstow, East London on May 30, 2009. The-then 24-year-old stalked women in the E-17 area

Michelle Samaraweera, 35, pictured, was raped and murdered in a church graveyard by Vyas within three months of his first rape

Detectives said Vyas last year became only the third person, and the second Indian national, to be extradited from India to the UK, following an eight-year court battle involving around 30 hearings. In April 2009 he raped Ms Samaraweera in a children’s playground in Queens Road, before strangling her to death.

Vyas admitted forcing his way into another woman’s home and raping her just over a month earlier on 23 March.

He attacked three other women, aged between 35 to 59, between March and May 2009, leaving one for dead in a bush after he brutally beat her.

Vyas was only brought to trial this year after fleeing to India and fighting extradition ‘tooth and nail’ for eight years.

Today he entered the dock flanked by three custody officers and briefly looked around across the court before sitting down and fixing his eyes on the ceiling.

Sitting with his hands gripped between his gels, he wore a short sleeved white shirt and dark grey trousers and with a black notebook on the seat next to him.

He continued to look at the ceiling for the duration of the sentencing, shifting his weight occasionally.

The judge said Vyas stalked Ms Samaraweera before killing her by asphyxiation, although the exact method is not known.

He said: ‘You were willing to kill in pursuit of your sexual perversions and in Michelle you found a victim who fought back. She had to be silenced and silenced she was.’ 

Ms Samaraweera’s sister, Ann Chandradasa, 48, said: ‘I actually really thought that he was literally going to get away with murder because of the amount of time he was in India and the amount of hearings. 

Vyas, pictured in the store at the same time as Ms Samaraweera, was only brought to trial this year after fleeing to India and fighting extradition ‘tooth and nail’ for eight years

Detectives said Vyas, pictured on CCTV, last year became only the third person, and the second Indian national, to be extradited from India to the UK

‘I’m just glad we have finally got justice for Michelle and I’m glad that the other victims have got justice as well.

‘It’s partial closure. Him being in prison doesn’t take away the pain of what’s happened and what all these women have been through.’

Tom Little, prosecuting, said: ‘This campaign involved four female victims, the last of whom died in the course of the attack and literally at his hands.

‘Night Stalker’ victim’s sister: ‘I’d be prepared to visit him if he confesses’

The sister of a woman murdered by a serial rapist dubbed the ‘E17 night stalker’ has said she would visit him in prison if he finally confesses.

Mother-of-two Ann Chandradasa, 48, waited more than a decade to see 35-year-old sister Michelle Samaraweera’s killer jailed after Aman Vyas raped and strangled her in 2009.

Despite overwhelming evidence, he put Ms Chandradasa and his victims through a Croydon Crown Court trial, claiming Ms Samaraweera had died accidentally following consensual sex.

As she faced her sister’s killer in court, Ms Chandradasa, from Essex, said: ‘Aman Vyas has had over 11 years to come clean and admit to raping and murdering my sister, and even longer to admit to all the other heinous crimes committed against all the other innocent victims.

‘He has also had all this time to reflect on his own life and address the issues that have turned him into the monster that he is, but he didn’t.

‘Instead he has lied and fabricated stories for his own benefit. He will never understand what he put my mother, sisters, children, loved ones, friends and myself through.’

Ms Chandradasa remembered her ‘baby sister’ as ‘a lovely, gentle, caring person’ who was ‘considerate towards people and thoughtful’.

She told of the family’s more than decade-long battle for justice, which her mother did not live to see, as he was jailed for life with a minimum sentence of 37 years.

Vyas was finally extradited from India last year after he was arrested there in 2011, following an eight-year court battle involving around 30 hearings.

‘I actually really thought that he was literally going to get away with murder because of the amount of time he was in India and the amount of hearings,’ said Ms Chandradasa.

‘They have got what they deserved, Michelle and all the other victims.’

Ms Chandradasa branded her sister’s killer an ‘absolute pig’ and a ‘disgusting, vile person’.

Addressing him, she said: ‘There’s a glimmer of sadness there as well. You weren’t born that way, something’s turned you into what you are.’

But she said she would visit him in prison if he finally admits to his crimes.

‘I hope one day he will find it in his heart if he’s actually got one to talk. I’d even be prepared to go and visit him if he ever, ever confesses,’ she said.

‘I hope one day Vyas finds it in his heart to confess and truly be sorry for the pain inflicted on the innocent women he violated.

‘They are the ones that are serving life sentences. Vyas potentially spending the rest of his life in prison is not a punishment but a privilege, it will never be enough.’

 

‘The defendant would go out prowling looking for lone women on whom he could pray.

‘His hunting ground was a relatively small area of Walthamstow centred on Markhouse Road and some of the streets running off it.

‘Three of his victims were attacked and raped out in the open, while one was raped after the defendant had followed her back to her flat.

‘Not every attack was identical unsurprisingly given that attacks of this type of dynamic incidents.

‘However, there are a series of similarities and a commonality that runs through all four attacks.’

Vyas followed his first victim into the communal entrance of her block of flats and she saw him when she came out to top up her electricity meter.

‘As she approached the meter cupboard she noticed the defendant sitting at the bottom of the stairs,’ said Mr Little.

‘She did not recognise him. He asked her if he could use the toilet and then asked her if she wanted to smoke a ‘spliff’ and told her that he was a ‘bit high’.

‘He warned her not “to provoke” him. She was polite at first but eventually told him to leave her alone.’

The woman grabbed a baseball bat but Vyas took from her then chased her into the bedroom, punched her four times and anally raped her.

Ms Samaraweera’s body was found naked from the waist down in the children’s playground in Walthamstow on April 30, 2009.

She had nipped out to buy a pint of milk near the home she shared with her boyfriend and was last seen on CCTV at a Somerfield store later that day.

A postmortem revealed she had been strangled and raped.

Other women were dragged down alleyways or followed home and then attacked, the court heard.

Vyas’s victim was threatened with a knife and sexually assaulted on a filthy mattress in the street.

She had agreed to help him ‘score’ drugs just after midnight on 22 April but as they walked through the back streets he threatened her with a knife and violently raped her.

He was linked to the attack by his semen, found on the victim’s discarded knickers at the scene, say prosecutors.

Vyas denied having any connection to the attacks but did not offer an explanation as to how his DNA was found there.

He struck again on 29 April, only a week later, less than a mile away from the previous attack. She is the third lone woman to be attacked at night by the E17 Nightstalker,’ Mr Little said.

The woman recalls being approached by an Asian man who followed her into a shop on Markhouse Road.

She was seen on CCTV leaving the shop at about 1:30am with another customer who bears a resemblance to the defendant following her.

Mr Little said: ‘At some point in her journey, she saw an Asian man with bobbed hair.

‘He appeared to be drunk. She is not confident it is the same Asian man who had grabbed her earlier.

‘On seeing this man she decided to cross the road to the other side. She thinks this male followed her.

‘She was in the vicinity of St Saviour’s Church. This is the last thing she can remember before waking up in hospital.’

A neighbour to the church heard screaming and moaning from the bushes near the church and called the police at 1:56am.

The same paramedic who had responded to Vyas’s first victim’s call on March 24 arrived to find her physically and sexually assaulted.

A match to Vyas’s DNA was found on the blanket given to the woman by the paramedic.

Detective Sergeant Shaleena Sheikh said: ‘Vyas carried out horrific and violent attacks on four women which, tragically, culminated in the murder of Michelle Samaraweera. He then did all he could to evade responsibility for his crimes and fled to India.

‘He added further distress to those he hurt by subjecting them to a trial. I would like to commend the dignity and bravery shown by his victims and their families throughout this process, which has lasted over 10 years.

‘Despite having DNA from the scenes of the crimes, Vyas was not on the database and this prompted a lengthy and complex investigation, which saw more than 1,100 DNA swabs taken and 1,815 addresses visited. We also issued more than 60,500 posters displaying an image of the suspect.

‘The scale of this investigation has been remarkable and the case has lasted a decade, taking our inquiries to many different countries and resulting in a lengthy extradition process.’

Vyas, of no fixed address, denied but was convicted of murder, five other counts of rape and one of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

He had admitted one charge of rape.  

Vyas has already served just over two years on remand in India and the UK and will be eligible for release after 34 years, although the judge said he may never be freed. 

Aman Vyas – The E17 Night Stalker 

First attack: March 24, 2009  

The 59-year-old woman was topping up her meter at a local store when Vyas – then 24 – began following her. 

Vyas followed the woman into her block of flats into a communal area. As she made her way into the flat, Vyas forced his way in, punched the woman repeatedly in the face before raping her. 

He apologised when he was finished and left. 

The woman called an ambulance and examiners were able to recover a partial DNA trace in hospital. 

The sample was enough to determine Vyas was not already on the DNA database. 

Second attack: April 22, 2009 

Vyas targeted a 46-year-old woman who was out for a walk. The rapist approached the woman and asked if she knew of a place he could buy drugs. 

The woman agreed, but when they arrived he pulled out a knife and threatened her. 

The woman screamed, but Vyas punched his victim before raping her. 

The victim reported the attack and forensic officers were only able to recover a partial DNA sample. 

Third attack: April 29, 2009

The 32-year-old woman was walking home from a local supermarket and was passing St. Saviour’s Church when she was attacked. The woman has no recollection of the incident. 

She regained consciousness in the early hours of the morning and a member of the public called police. 

The woman had a deep cut to her head and was hypothermic. She also had a fractured nose and jaw. 

She spent a month in hospital recovering from her injuries. She was unable to talk to police until June, however, officers were able to recover another DNA sample from a blanket used by paramedics to cover the woman while taking her to hospital. 

This DNA was linked to the two previous attacks. 

Fourth attack: May, 30, 2009

Vyas spotted Michelle Samaraweera, a 35-year-old woman buying snacks at a shop in Walthamstow. 

He followed the woman to a park on Queens Road, Walthamstow. 

A member of the public heard screams around 1.30am but nobody called police. 

Ms Samaraweera’s body was spotted by a dog walker at 5.15am. She was partially clothed. She had been strangled and sexually assaulted. 

Officers linked DNA at the scene to the three earlier attacks.      

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