36-year-old murderer and serial rapist known as ‘E17 night stalker’ jailed for 37 years

A serial rapist known as Aman Vyas who murdered his last victim and fled abroad has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 37 years after detectives tracked him around the world.

Aman Vyas was 24 when he began preying on lone women, punching them into submission before he raped them.

He strangled his final victim, Michelle Samaraweera, a 35-year-old widow, after attacking her in a park.

Passersby heard her screams but did nothing to help and her partially-clothed body was found by a dog walker four hours later.

Vyas carried out his attacks near his home in Walthamstow, east London, and was dubbed the “E17 night stalker”.

Following a trial at Croydon Crown Court, Vyas was sentenced on Thursday for six counts of rape of four women, grievous bodily harm, and the 2009 murder of Ms Samaraweera.

The judge, Mr Justice Bryan, told him: “In the spring of 2009, there was a stranger rapist prowling the streets of Walthamstow looking for his prey.

“You were that rapist.”

The case officer, Detective Sergeant Shaleena Sheikh from the Metropolitan Police, said: “There has been a long wait for justice in this case but finally the victims and their families have seen the person responsible brought to account.

“Vyas did all he could to avoid responsibility for his crimes.

“He fled abroad and then added to the distress of those he hurt by making them go through the ordeal of a trial.

“However, the injuries Vyas inflicted told the true story of this violent criminal and the jury have seen right through his lies.”

Vyas carried out his attacks over nine weeks across a small neighbourhood in Walthamstow in 2009.

A month later, after an E-FIT image was broadcast with appeal on the TV programme Crimewatch, Vyas went on the run after buying a one-way plane ticket to India.

DNA samples he left behind did not match anyone on the national database, but he was identified a year later after a former employer recognised him and told police he had left the UK.

Scotland Yard detectives tracked him from India to Singapore and New Zealand before he was arrested back in India in 2011.

The extradition process was long and complicated and held over 27 hearings with long delays between court dates.

Several times detectives were asked to fly to Delhi to give evidence.

Vyas was finally extradited in October last year.

DNA swabs taken on his arrest showed a billion-to-one match with samples recovered from the rape and murder attacks.

DS Sheikh said: “Although we had DNA from the scenes of his crimes, Vyas was not on the DNA database and was a complete stranger to his victims; to bring him to justice required an extraordinary investigation.

“This case lasted more than 10 years, needed enquiries in many different countries and finally a lengthy extradition process.”

Vyas, now 36, was convicted of murder, six rapes and grievous bodily harm.

He was acquitted of one charge of possessing a knife.

He attacked his first victim, a 59-year-old woman, after following her into a block of flats, pushing her into her home and punching her before raping her. He then apologised and left.

He approached his second victim, who was 46, asking to buy drugs, then pushed her into an alley, threatened her with a knife, punched and raped her.

His third victim was 32 and had been shopping in a supermarket before walking home past a church.

She remembered nothing more until she woke up in hospital.

The woman was found in a graveyard after passersby heard screams and groans and called police.

She had a deep head cut, a broken jaw and nose and spent a month in hospital.

Vyas murdered Ms Samaraweera a month later after apparently following her from a shop, where both were recorded on CCTV.

She was sexually assaulted and strangled in a small park with a playground.

Witnesses heard screams at around 1.30am, but no-one raised the alarm and it was another four hours before her body was discovered by a dog walker.

Mr Justice Bryan told Vyas: “You were willing to kill in pursuit of your sexual perversions and in Michelle you found a victim who fought back.

“She had to be silenced and silenced she was.”

Ms Samaraweera’s sister, Ann Chandradasa, branded Vyas an “absolute pig” and a “disgusting, vile person”.

Addressing the killer in court, she said: “There’s a glimmer of sadness there as well.

“You weren’t born that way, something’s turned you into what you are.”

Ms Chandradasa added she would visit Vyas in prison, should he ever confess to his crimes.

“I hope one day Vyas finds it in his heart to confess and truly be sorry for the pain inflicted on the innocent women he violated,” she said.

“They are the ones that are serving life sentences.

“Vyas potentially spending the rest of his life in prison is not a punishment but a privilege, it will never be enough.”

Vyas has already served just over two years on remand in India and the UK and will be eligible for release after 34 years, although the judge said he may never be freed.

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