The family of a woman brutally murdered while out walking her dog have praised a change in the law which led to her killer being jailed for life after new forensic evidence allowed a retrial.
Odd-job man Mark Weston launched a “brutal and prolonged” attack on mother-of-two Vikki Thompson, 30, after it is believed she caught him masturbating in a country lane.
Weston, 35, was originally cleared of battering her near her home in the Cotswold village of Ascott-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire in 1995.
But after the “double jeopardy” rule was removed in 2005, he was found guilty in a second trial at Reading Crown Court.
Weston is the first person to face a murder retrial following the discovery of new forensic evidence.
Mrs Thompson was found bludgeoned near a railway line after her dog returned home without her. She died in hospital six days after the attack. Small amounts of her blood, missed during the initial investigation, were discovered on a pair of Weston’s boots when Thames Valley Police reopened the case in 2005.
He husband Jonathan, speaking after the sentencing, said the change in the double jeopardy law was “crucial in achieving justice” but he refused to criticise forensic officers who failed to spot the blood stains in the initial investigation.
Flanked by his children, Matthew and Jenny, he said: “It has been 15 years since Mark Weston killed Vikki. During that period Mark Weston has been free to live his life after murdering Vikki. There was no justice in that. He deserves to be punished for what he did and now he will be.”
Jailing Weston for a minimum period of 13 years, Judge Mr Justice David Bean said: “It has taken 15 years for justice to catch up with you, but it has done so at last today.”
Pete Beirne, a retired detective recruited by police to investigate unsolved crimes, said after the trial: “This is the first time using double jeopardy legislation that new forensic evidence has been used to secure a conviction, so it’s very significant.”