Jurors consider verdicts after dead woman, 26, ‘found bound and gagged’ in lake

·2 min read

A jury has retired to consider its verdicts in the case of a rapist accused of murdering a woman found bound and gagged in a lake 35 years ago.

Donald Robertson was charged last year after a police cold-case team found new DNA evidence allegedly linking him to the death of Shani Warren in April 1987.

The body of 26-year-old Ms Warren, who lived in Stoke Poges in Buckinghamshire, was found in Taplow Lake on the Easter weekend that year.

Robertson, 66, is in prison and has not attended his trial at Reading Crown Court.

Jurors began their deliberations on Monday morning after being told by Mr Justice Wall, presiding over the trial, that there was “no pressure of time” under which to reach their verdicts.

Robertson denies the false imprisonment, indecent assault and murder of Ms Warren between April 16 and 19 1987 – her wrists having been tied with a car jump lead and ankles bound by a tow rope.

He also denies the kidnap and rape of a 16-year-old girl, who cannot be identified, on July 16 1981.

Robertson’s trial heard he has convictions for raping two girls aged 14 and 17 in separate incidents in August 1981 and June 1987 respectively, as well as a conviction for burglary with intent to commit rape and kidnap of a woman in an incident in April 1990.

Prosecutors said new DNA evidence which came to light decades on from the attacks is the “cornerstone” of the case against Robertson.

The jury has been told DNA traces found on the underwear of both victims as well as on a mouth gag used on Ms Warren are a match for Robertson.

Robertson did not give evidence in his defence, but his lawyer warned the jury against convicting him on the basis of his other crimes.

Defending, Michael Ivers QC questioned the reliability of the DNA evidence, and argued that the prosecution case in relation to the death of Ms Warren “could have been made bluntly” against a lorry driver who has convictions for offences including kidnap, rape, robbery and attempted murder between 1982 and 1995.

The man was treated as a suspect during a police reinvestigation into Ms Warren’s death, and a file passed to the Crown Prosecution Service, but he was not charged.

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