walked past Wanda and Rachel that night as they talked on the drive. The one Wanda had nearly asked to chaperone her home. Had he heard Rachel’s mother’s pleas for her not to walk home alone?
Living on the same estate, perhaps he’d seen the striking 6ft blonde woman around.
Either way, CCTV showed him initially walking a few minutes ahead of Rachel before then following closely behind.
Mud on the back of Rachel’s legs suggested she’d been ambushed and dragged up into Little’s flat.
There she’d been stabbed from behind with a foot-long carving knife. She’d had 27 savage blows rained down on her head, back and neck, so fiercely that the knife entered her back and came out her chest. At his trial, Little spun a web of stories while family members fled the court in tears over the grisly details.
After nearly two weeks of evidence, the jury of six men and six women took eight-and-a-half hours to find Michael Little guilty of murder in October 2003.
His friend, who he’d callously tried to pin the murder on, never faced a single charge. As the murderer was jailed for life, with a minimum of 25 years, Rachel’s family wept and hugged each other. Little showed no emotion.
If the police were right, Rachel had died in a twist of fate.
If she’d left a few minutes earlier or later, she’d likely never have fallen prey to Little.
‘I think she’d still be round here every day,’ Ray said, 10 years after her death.
It’s tragic that all Rachel had wanted that New Year’s was to get home. Thoughtful and caring Rachel had only wanted to get back to her kittens.
They and the rest of her family and friends are bereft without her.