A man has been found guilty of the manslaughter of Eastbourne student Janet Müller.
Christopher Jeffrey-Shaw, 27, of Lakeside, Beckenham, Kent, had denied murdering the 21-year-old University of Brighton student from Germany who was studying at the Eastbourne campus.
A jury found him not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter following a trial at Guildford Crown Court on Monday (February 22).
Janet had been a patient at Millfield Hospital, a mental health unit in Hove, since March 3 but had absconded twice on March 12, the last time around 10pm on that evening.
On the afternoon of March 13, a Volkswagen Jetta was set on fire in a country lane off Rusper Road, Ifield, near Crawley and the body of Janet was found in the boot. She had been beaten and died in the fire.
Jeffrey-Shaw had fled to a nearby hotel, called a taxi and returned to London.
A few days later he handed himself into a police station in London after detectives issued his photo and an appeal for him to contact police.
He was arrested on suspicion of murder and charged.
Detective Superintendent Karen Mizzi, who led the investigation, said, “I want to pay tribute to the bravery of Janet’s family who have had to listen to the harrowing evidence in this case.
“The loss of a family member is always tragic, especially in these circumstances. This was a horrifying attack on a vulnerable young woman who had her whole life ahead of her.”
Janet’s family said, “We are not happy that the verdict is manslaughter; not murder. We are glad the man responsible for Janet’s death will not walk free but nothing can erase the loss of Janet.”
Jeffrey-Shaw will be sentenced on Friday.
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