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'Predator' convicted of 'lady in the lake' murder 35 years ago

Sky News
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A man has been found guilty of the “lady in the lake” murder of a woman in 1987.

Donald Robertson was convicted by unanimous verdict at Reading Crown Court of murdering 26-year-old Shani Warren, and of kidnapping and raping a teenager in 1981, decades after his “horrendous” crimes.

The serial attacker, 66, was charged last year after a police cold case team found new DNA evidence linking him to the death of Ms Warren in April 1987.

The body of Ms Warren, who lived in Stoke Poges in Buckinghamshire, was found bound and gagged in a lake in Taplow Lake on the Easter weekend that year.

Her car had been abandoned in a layby on the A4, with bin bags containing remnants of grass after she had recently mowed the lawn, as well as an Easter egg in the driver’s footwell.

Robertson did not attend the trial and the dock was empty on Tuesday as a jury found him guilty of both crimes.

He was convicted of the false imprisonment, indecent assault and murder of Ms Warren between 16 and 19 April.

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Ms Warren’s wrists had been tied with a car jump lead and her ankles were bound by a tow rope.

Robertson was also found guilty of the kidnap and rape of a 16-year-old girl, who cannot be identified, on 16 July 1981.

Donald Robertson. Pic: Thames Valley Police
Image:
Donald Robertson was described by police as an ‘evil and dangerous’ man. Pic: Thames Valley Police

He has been described as “evil” by police and as someone with a “long and horrific list of previous convictions”.

Police have also said it is “a regret” there was not enough evidence at the time to charge him with the teenage girl’s rape in Farnham Lane, Slough.

Robertson went on to rape a 14-year-old girl who had been riding her bicycle in Farnham Royal just days after being released by police in connection with that offence. He pleaded guilty to the crime in October 1981.

And less than two months after attacking and killing Ms Warren, he raped a 17-year-old girl who was walking home having missed the last train just a few miles from Taplow Lake.

He is currently serving a prison sentence for that crime, having been convicted in 2010 after the attack was reviewed by the police’s cold case team.

New DNA evidence was the “cornerstone” of the latest case against Robertson, the prosecution said, with traces matching his found on the underwear of both victims as well as on a mouth gag used on Ms Warren.

Thames Valley Police’s major crime review team’s principal investigator, Peter Beirne, said he was “sorry” it took so long to bring Robertson before the court, adding they had only been able to do so as a “result in advancements in forensic science”.

“It was just that unfortunately, at that time, there was not the evidence to enable us to charge Robertson,” he said.

Mr Beirne described Robertson an “evil and dangerous” man and a “predator” who had attacked women and girls “throughout his adult life”, subjecting them to “the most horrendous acts”.

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