Sex attacker faces life for killing hotel worker under motorway bridge
A vagrant is facing life behind bars for snatching a woman under a motorway bridge, then killing her during a violent sex attack.
Vadims Ruskuls, 25, was found guilty at the Old Bailey of murdering hotel housekeeper Pardeep Kaur as she walked to work in October last year.
The Latvian was thought to be sleeping rough with his mother beneath the bridge crossing the M4 when he pounced on Mrs Kaur.
On the morning of Monday October 17 last year, Ruskuls was caught on chilling CCTV footage as he stalked the 30-year old mother as she approached Harlington Bridge in Hayes, west London.
They disappeared from view for 25 minutes before his shadowy figure emerged dragging Mrs Kaur's partly naked body on to waste ground, where she was hidden beneath branches and an old sleeping bag.
Prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC told jurors that Mrs Kaur had scratched Ruskuls' face in a desperate attempt to get away but her screams were drowned out by the traffic.
The rough ground where her body was dumped was a "bleak spot" used by rough sleepers, drunks and drug addicts, he said.
Her badly decomposed body was discovered almost a week later by a visiting Norwegian Detective Chief Inspector Kenneth Berg who spotted a human foot sticking out.
Ruskuls was caught after local Pc Richard Lewis recognised the stooped figure in the CCTV footage as the man he had spoken to the day after Mrs Kaur's disappearance.
In the early hours, the constable had been called to a house in Hayes to a report of a "stoned" man trying to open the front door looking like he had been "dragged through a hedge".
The officer found the suspect walking barefoot with scratches to his left cheek and neck, the court heard.
Following his arrest for the murder of Mrs Kaur, Ruskuls' DNA was compared with samples taken from her body.
It was matched to DNA from her ankle, sock and the left cup of her bra with a probability of "one in a billion", jurors were told.
DNA from the victim's fingernails was also found to be a match, the court heard.
A post-mortem examination failed to establish how she died but Mr Aylett said it was obvious from the way she had been found that it was murder.
Jurors were told that Mrs Kaur had come to live in Britain in 2011 with her husband, Rachpal Singh.
She worked at the Sheraton Skyline Hotel in Harlington while Mr Singh had a job at Fresh Foods in Hayes.
They both worked six days a week to send money to their five-year-old daughter who lived with her grandparents in India.
When Mrs Kaur was reported missing, police initially suspected the husband because he lied saying he had seen her that morning when he had yet to return from a night shift.
The court heard he had feared they would discover he was working without a permit.
It was only after he came clean, that the investigation "quickly moved on", Mr Aylett said.
The defendant, who denied murder, refused to make any comment in police interviews and declined to give evidence in court.
The court heard it was unclear when Ruskuls first arrived in Britain from his home country where he had four previous convictions for burglary and criminal damage.
He had a short-lived marriage to a woman who lived in Feltham, west London, but otherwise appeared to live in a number of different places.
Mrs Kaur's husband sat in court as the jury delivered its verdict.
In a victim impact statement, he described the devastating loss of his wife and the mother of their young daughter.
He said: "We hoped for a good life here with our daughter, but something terrible happened to us and now our dreams are shattered.
"I'm completely lost without her and very lonely. All our free time was spent together. We even used to go food shopping together.
"The murder of Pardeep is so disturbing, I find it hard to tell her family in India what had happened to her.
"I wonder why it happened to lovely Pardeep and why Vadims Ruskuls killed her. This will always be a mystery to me. The circumstances of Pardeep's death will always haunt me because Vadims Ruskuls has not given an explanation."
Judge Richard Marks QC adjourned sentencing until Wednesday. The prosecution had asked him to consider a starting point of life with a minimum of 30 years given the circumstances of the case.
The defendant made no reaction as he was led from the dock.
Outside court, Detective Sergeant Nick Miller, of Scotland Yard, said Ruskuls sexually assaulted Mrs Kaur and "effectively stubbed her life out" and then refused to explain his actions to police or the court.
He said: "The jury has today reached a unanimous verdict that Ruskuls is responsible for the murder of Pardeep Kaur.
"While the lives of her husband and daughter will forever be deeply affected by their terrible loss, it gives them some solace that justice has been done and Vadims Ruskuls will serve a life sentence for this senseless killing."
He said it was a "terrifying" case, but added: " Thankfully, stranger killings are incredibly rare in this country."