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Killer rapist handed life sentence

A killer who escaped from custody after strangling his girlfriend 16 years ago and raped two women while on the run in Spain has been jailed for life.

Miguel da Silva, who was caught after a cold case review, will serve at least 16 years behind bars for murdering mother-of-two Susan Martin in west London in 1994.

The asylum seeker, described as "possessive and controlling", throttled his 44-year-old lover the day before she planned to leave him to go back to Manchester.

Judge Richard Hone told him: "It must have been a terrifying ordeal. You took her life because you were determined that only you should possess her.

"You are a serious and continuing danger to women in general."

Ms Martin's body was discovered face down with a beige cloth tied tightly around her neck in her bedroom in Notting Hill.

Da Silva, an Angolan who was 24 at the time, handed himself in to police and was remanded to secure accommodation in Ealing Hospital while an assessment of his mental health was being carried out. But he escaped during a fire drill and fled to Spain in 1995.

In January 1999, he was jailed for seven years for raping a woman he had befriended in Torremolinos and he was given a nine-year sentence for a similar attack in Salamanca in May 2008.

But the crimes did not at first lead to his capture by British police as he was using false identities. It was only after detectives launched a cold case review last year and spoke to associates that they decided to circulate his fingerprints to Spain and Portugal and discovered that he was already in custody.

He will now be returned to Spain to complete his jail spell for rape, before being brought back to Britain to start his murder sentence, the Old Bailey was told.

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