A 17-year-old boy has been found guilty of murdering James Attfield and Nahid Almanea.
James Fairweather, of Thorpe Walk, Colchester, was found guilty by a jury at Guildford Crown Court.
He admitted killing James and Nahid at a hearing at The Old Bailey on Friday, January 22 where he pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
However, Essex Police and the CPS did not accept this plea and Fairweather faced a trial by jury who found him guilty of murdering James and Nahid.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Worron said: “These were horrific crimes where two people lost their lives in tragic circumstances. Fairweather admitted killing James and Nahid but denied their murder was calculated and pre-planned. He then forced their families to endure the pain and grief of a trial rather than admitting that he had murdered them.
“Today’s verdict will never heal the pain of losing their loved ones in such horrific circumstances. Hopefully they now have some answers and can be reassured that their killer will face a long time behind bars.”
James Attfield was murdered in March 2014. The 33-year-old, also known as Jim, was found on the Riverside Path in Colchester in the early hours of Saturday, March 29, with more than 100 stab wounds to his body.
Nahid Almanea, a student at the University of Essex, was murdered on Tuesday, June 17, 2014 on the Salary Brook Trail in Colchester as she walked from her student accommodation in nearby Woodrow Way to the university complex in Wivenhoe.
The 31-year-old was attacked at around 10.40am and died as a result of stab wounds.
Detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate launched murder investigations following both deaths. After Nahid died, they treated them as separate but parallel investigations.
There were extensive forensic searches; officers spoke to hundreds of potential witnesses, reviewed 100s of hours of CCTV and examined telephone records and social media posts.
Mr Worron added: “This was one of the biggest investigations carried out by Essex Police. My team worked tirelessly for months to gather even the smallest pieces of the information that could lead us towards finding the person responsible for these crimes. I would like to thank them personally for their commitment.
“I would also like to thank the families of James and Nahid who helped and supported us during this investigation and the community of Colchester who were fully behind our efforts to bring their killer to justice.”
Speaking after the trial, Jim’s mother Julie Finch said: “We are grateful for today’s verdict and hope now justice has been served we can begin to move on as a family.
“On March 29, 2014 our lives were changed forever when my kind and brave son Jim was brutally killed.
“He had been through so much already, having fought hard to overcome the effects of brain damage suffered when he was struck by a car. He didn’t deserve to die.
“At the time we had no idea the killer was so young - a fact that makes my sons’ death feel all the more cruel and unnecessary.
“James Fairweather is a monster in our eyes - and we will never be able to forgive him.
“I would like to thank all the police I have had contact with for all their hard work and sensitivity.
“I would also like to thank the media who have supported us during the investigation, keeping Jim’s case in the public eye and helping the police with appeals for information. Journalists have shown us great sensitivity throughout the trial. Everyone has been extremely supportive. My family and I now wish to be left alone so we can continue to grieve in private.”
In the month following Nahid’s death, her family issued a statement via Family Liaison Officer, Dc Jane Morgan.
The tribute said: “As a family we have been left devastated by the terrible murder of Nahid. Nahid was a remarkable and gentle person who was loved for her kind and caring nature. Publicly Nahid was a quiet and dignified lady who chose to pursue her academic studies in order to work towards her PHD and whilst in England she made a decision that she would respect her heritage and traditions in the way that she dressed and conducted herself. However, when she was with her family Nahid was a warm and loving person who enjoyed laughter and the company of her parents, siblings and extended family.
“The amount of people that attended Nahid’s funeral is a tribute to how much she was cared for and respected.”