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'Utterly depraved' fantasist jailed over rape and murder of India Chipchase

Published 02/08/2016

Edward Tenniswood denies the murder and rape of India Chipchase (PA/Northamptonshire Police)
Edward Tenniswood denies the murder and rape of India Chipchase (PA/Northamptonshire Police)

A middle-aged fantasist raped and murdered a drunk young woman in what a judge labelled a "crime of utter depravity" after luring his victim back to his squalid home.

Friendless loner Edward Tenniswood will serve at least 30 years behind bars after killing India Chipchase, who was less than half his age, after a Birmingham Crown Court jury took just an hour and 45 minutes to convict him.

Tenniswood, branded a "predator" by police, promised to "get her home safe" after finding the 20-year-old in a drunken state outside NB's nightspot in Northampton in the early hours of January 30.

But instead he attacked her, leaving Ms Chipchase - the ex-girlfriend of former New Zealand All Black Bruce Reihana's son, Evaan Reihana - with more than 30 injuries.

After the killing, 52-year-old Tenniswood told a jury he "cuddled up" to her lifeless body in an upstairs bedroom of his Stanley Road home and then sat and drank in a hotel bar for 22 hours until the police came to arrest him.

The court heard how Tenniswood, who had no previous convictions, was caught by mobile phone signals linked to his handset and a police officer who recognised a still of his image taken off the nightclub's CCTV.

When officers smashed their way through Tenniswood's front door on January 31, they found Ms Chipchase, who had wanted to be a paramedic, lying dead on a mattress upstairs with a sheet across her.

In court, her attacker claimed the sex had been consensual and that Ms Chipchase's death in his grim rented terraced home had been down to his "over-eagerness" in bed.

But the jury swiftly rejected the account of a man described by his own lawyer as an "oddball", and who kept newspaper clippings of women.

Sentencing, the judge said: "This was a terrible crime. It was committed because the defendant was determined to satisfy his own sexual desires on an attractive and much younger woman. It was a crime of utter depravity."

Tenniswood sat in the court dock in silence staring at the floor, flanked by four prison guards, as the judge labelled him a "strange man" who had taken advantage of his vulnerable young victim.

Judge Saunders said: "To lose a child at any time and for any reason is a tragedy but to lose a daughter in the way that India's parents did is unimaginable."

He said no sentence could compensate the family's loss.

The judge said the killing had been "entirely deliberate" while observing that Tenniswood's defence, often gratuitous in detail, had "no doubt added to the anguish of the family".

The judge added: "While I cannot be sure he went to the nightclub to try and find a vulnerable woman that he could use for his own satisfaction, I am satisfied that as soon as he saw India he formed that intention.

"I have no doubt that he was very persuasive and convinced India in her befuddled state to come with him, promising her that she would be safe.

"I am satisfied that he did intend to kill and while he does present as a strange man I have no evidence that there was some mental illness that might lessen his responsibility for this awful crime."

In a statement read to court, the victim's grieving mother Sue Chipchase said her daughter "lit up a room" adding: "Her death has left a huge void in all our lives and her siblings are quiet and subdued without her."

Mrs Chipchase said: "The actions of this man means we have been condemned to a life spent grieving for a child whose potential we shall never see."

Her father Jeremy Chipchase, a doctor based in Australia, said: "I sincerely hope there's no possibility that another woman ever falls into the hands of my daughter's murderer."

His voice cracked with emotion as he said: "No other father will have to see their daughter's body in the mortuary and be told they are unable to touch or kiss her one last time."

Mr Chipchase added: "No other father will have to touch the coffin and say 'love you, Ind' and see the curtain close in the crematorium.

"No other father will be hit with a wave of emotion at a wedding, as I was, realising I would never walk India down the aisle."

Tenniswood had forced family and friends of his victim to listen in court to his bogus claims that she had gone willingly to his home and had what he called "loving" sex.

He painted a picture of false familiarity between himself and his victim, claiming she "planted a kiss" on him and then urged him to squeeze her neck during "vigorous love-making".

In a further desperate bid to prove his innocence to the jury he even claimed to have dated world-famous cover girl Heather Stewart-Whyte in the late 1980s - a woman who bore a striking resemblance to Ms Chipchase.

Ms Stewart-Whyte flatly denied ever knowing Tenniswood in a statement released after the trial.

But his account it was "always the plan" to go back to his house in the taxi was exposed as a lie by other testimony.

As Ms Chipchase was led from the nightclub the worse for wear earlier that night, bouncer David Burry recalled her repeatedly telling him: "I just want to go home."

Although animated in the witness box, never once in three days of his evidence did self-obsessed Tenniswood look in the direction of the victim's family sat just yards away in the public gallery.

After sentencing, DCI Steve Woliter, of Northamptonshire Police, said Tenniswood's actions were those of the "worst predator" who had targeted Ms Chipchase while she was at her most vulnerable.

He said: "My lasting hope is that India's family is able to take some solace in the fact that Tenniswood will not be able to prey on any other young woman going about their lives."

Tenniswood was also handed a 12-year sentence for rape to be served concurrent to his life term.

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