Ex-offender convicted of murdering teen and hiding her body in clingfilm-wrapped wardrobe
Ashley Foster told his mother his accidentally throttled Megan Bills during consensual sex
A killer who strangled a 17-year-old girl during a violent sexual attack and then hid her body in a clingfilm-wrapped wardrobe has been found guilty of murder.
Ashley Foster used a shirt as a ligature to kill Megan Bills within hours of meeting her then allowed her remains to decompose for more than a fortnight as he searched the internet for so-called snuff movies and necrophilia-related images.
Jurors at Wolverhampton Crown Court deliberated for six hours and 27 mins before unanimously convicting Foster after hearing how the 24-year-old had been released from prison three days before the killing at an ex-offenders’ hostel in Brierley Hill, West Midlands.
Foster – who admitted preventing Megan’s lawful burial – told his mother in a letter that he had concealed the homeless teenager’s body after accidentally throttling her during consensual sex.
CCTV footage captured by a network of cameras at the hostel showed Megan and Foster leaving together to visit a local shop, and the former college hairdressing student returning to enter his room at about 3.35pm on Easter Sunday.
At the start of the seven-day trial, prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC said Foster “seemed his normal self” as he enjoyed a roast dinner in the aftermath of the murder – and smirked when asked why he needed to buy clingfilm.
The court heard from Foster’s sister, who he had asked to buy the clingfilm for him. She believed he wanted it to wrap cannabis.
The awful truth was that the clingfilm was used to wrap the wardrobe, which Foster also covered with a quilt while pointing a fan toward the window to rid the room of the smell of the decomposing body.
Examination of the killer’s mobile phones showed he had made numerous searches relating to strangulation and schoolgirls in the days after the murder on Easter Sunday last year.
Megan’s body was found 18 days later at the New Path of Life hostel in Highgate Road by horrified staff, who had inspected Foster’s room but been told the “revolting” smell came from the carpets.
Opening the case against Foster, Mr Aylett told the court: “That Megan’s violent death must be related to some perverted sexual activity on the part of this defendant, which involves either actual death or the simulation of death, is borne out by the internet searches that the defendant made in the days following Megan’s death.
“The defendant repeatedly looked for ‘snuff’ videos – being a type of film in which someone can actually be seen to be, or appear to be, murdered.”
The Crown alleged Foster had planned to use a suitcase to remove Megan’s body from his bed-sit but decided not to disturb her remains.
Mr Aylett told the court: “Whether it was the prospect of having to dismember the body or whether it was a fear of being caught on camera or a combination of the two, Foster’s nerve failed him and Megan’s body was left in the wardrobe.”
Megan’s body – which was wrapped in a curtain inside the wardrobe – was identified through dental records but was so badly decomposed that a post-mortem examination failed to establish how she died.
Mr Aylett told the panel: “If the defendant’s purpose was to ensure that it would be as difficult as it could possibly be to work out how she died, he certainly achieved that aim.
“The pathologist has said it is simply not possible to say how it is that Megan died.”
After his conviction for murder, the court was told Foster had served a short prison sentence for assault and witness intimidation following an incident in 2016 in which his sister was threatened with a knife, leaving her with a cut to her hand.
Foster is due to be sentenced later by Judge James Burbidge QC.