A brutal Halifax killer who evaded justice for almost 25 years is now expected to die in prison after being jailed for the shocking murder of an 86-year-old Bradford spinster who was strangled, sexually assaulted and knifed in the throat.
Raymond Kay, 70, was this afternoon (Tues) sentenced to life imprisonment after a jury at Bradford Crown Court took less than an hour to find him guilty of murdering popular pensioner Amy Shepherd at her sheltered accommodation flat in August 1994.
Career burglar Kay first met his victim, who was known as the Duchess because of her smart appearance, when he was delivering “meals on wheels” as part of a community service order for previous offending.
Sentencing him to a minimum term of 17 years, the Honourable Mrs Justice O’Farrell said that work had enabled Kay to identify Miss Shepherd as a vulnerable lady and potential target from whom he could steal.
She said the spinster, who had been security conscious, would have recognised Kay as a trusted person and would therefore have let him into her flat.
“The most likely explanation is that you were in the process of stealing from her when Miss Shepherd left the lounge and she disturbed you,” said the judge.
She said Kay had then inflicted “unnecessary, cruel and grotesque” violence in what was a brutal, vicious and sustained attack.
Bradford Crown Court heard that Kay stole property including two rings and a watch which were of little monetary value.
In January last year new DNA testing techniques led to the arrest of Kay at his home in Baker Fold, Halifax.
During his trial the jury was shown bodycam footage of the arrest and when the 70-year-old was told it was over the murder of Miss Shepherd he replied:”You’re joking.”
The jury heard that back in 1996 Kay had been questioned by police because of his work delivering “meals on wheels” to the pensioner’s home in Folly Hall Gardens, Wibsey.
The jury also heard that back in 1973 Kay and another man had admitted offences of robbery and inflicting grievous bodily harm over an attack on a 77-year-old at her home in Somerset.
Miss Shepherd was one of two elderly women who were murdered within a fortnight of each other back in the summer of 1994 and in 2000 the killer of the second victim, widow Mary Kilbride, went on trial accused of also murdering Miss Shepherd.
Richard Whelan, 23, was however found not guilty of that murder on the directions of the judge.
The Honourable Mrs Justice O’Farrell told Kay that he had been convicted of the brutal murder of a defenceless elderly woman in her home.
She explained that the starting point for the minimum term to be served at the time was 14 years, but added:”The aggravating factors in your case would justify a minimum term significantly above that, but I have regard to the fact that your age and poor health mean that it is almost inevitable that you will die in prison.”
At the start of Kay’s trial earlier this month prosecutor Richard Wright QC said Miss Shepherd had suffered “terrible wounds” to her neck which her killer had inflicted with a serrated knife found at the scene.
“The wounds had been delivered as a final act in the culmination of a brutal assault during which she had been beaten, strangled with a ligature, and then had her throat cut,” said Mr Wright.
“During that fatal assault the evidence at the scene suggested that she had been sexually assaulted. A distinctive item of jewellery was amongst property missing from her home and it appears likely that her killer robbed her. Indeed that seems likely to have been the motive for the killing with the sexual assault as some sort of afterthought, perhaps brought on by his violent excitement as he attacked her.”
Mr Wright explained that over the intervening 25 years forensic scientists had developed new techniques which had been applied to items recovered from the scene of the murder.
He said that Kay’s DNA profile had been found on intimate samples taken from the victim’s body and also a tea towel which had been used a ligature.
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