A "trusted friend" who claimed he accidentally killed a woman during rough sex was convicted of rape and murder yesterday.
UK man Wesley Streete, 20, dumped Keeley Bunker's half-naked body in a lake and hid it with branches after the attack.
A court heard that Streete had a "long history" of sex attacks on young women, and pounced on would-be teaching assistant Bunker, also 20, as he walked her home following a night out.
The victim's uncle, Jason Brown, discovered her body during a search involving family, friends and police that next evening.
Brown's shouts upon discovering the body were "the most horrendous screaming I have heard in my life", a police officer told the court.
Following the jury's conviction of Streete, after eight hours of deliberation, police released video-footage of Bunker dancing in a Birmingham club hours before she was killed.
Streete, who towered above his 41kg victim, repeatedly lied about what had happened to his childhood friend, initially claiming to have walked her home, then describing how she had fallen and fatally banged her head as they joked around.
Before the trial he changed his story again, alleging he had "accidentally killed her" by putting his forearm around her neck during sex.
He claimed this happened after mutual flirting led to consensual sex in Wiggington Park in their home town of Tamworth, Staffordshire.
"I put my arms around her neck and accidentally killed her," Streete told his trial. "We were having sex."
Streete claimed he only realised Bunker was in distress when she "went floppy and stopped".
He argued that CCTV depicting the pair near the entrance had shown them "play fighting", rather than showing Bunker trying to get away from him.
But her injuries told a different story. She had scratches on her neck, shown to be self-inflicted from skin recovered from her fingernails, probably caused as she tried to prise his hands off her.
Stafford Crown Court heard that on the night of September 18, Bunker and her friend Monique Riggon had been to Birmingham to see rapper Aitch in celebration of the victim's recent birthday. They then met Streete, as arranged, and went to Snobs nightclub.
The court heard Bunker saw him as "just a friend".
"When the trio returned to Tamworth by taxi, Riggon offered her friend a bed for the night.
"But Keeley refused tragically saying she wanted to sleep in her own bed," prosecutor Jacob Hallam said.
She told her friend: "I've got Wes, Wes lives near me, Wes will walk me back, it'll be fine."
Streete, a warehouse packer, was arrested after her body was found but earlier had moaned to police that people were blaming him for her disappearance.
Detective Inspector Cheryl Hannan said: "I think there's some audacity in his arrogance there in playing the martyr knowing full well where she was and what he'd done."
Bunker's mother, Deborah Watkins, said in a victim impact statement: "I have been robbed of my daughter and holding her hand through life's experiences."
The victim's father, Christopher Bunker, 51, said he would never be at peace until he was laid to rest alongside his daughter.
The court heard that five months before he murdered Bunker, a barmaid, Streete raped a teenager he had met through Snapchat.
He was also convicted of raping that woman, as well as a further count of rape and three sex assaults.
Streete will be sentenced in court on Friday (local time).
A ban on killers using the "rough sex defence" where they argue victims were injured in consensual violence is set to become law after MPs last month supported an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill.
The Bill now rules out "consent for sexual gratification".
The family of backpacker Grace Millane, who was killed while travelling through New Zealand in 2018, have called on the NZ Government to reform our laws and ban the "rough sex" defence after it was used during their daughter's trial.
"We now hope that the rest of the world takes notice, and follows our lead, especially New Zealand. Changes need to be made to protect women & make sure this doesn't happen again," the family said in a statement.
"Families won't have to sit & listen to only one side of the story whilst the victim is revictimised & doesn't get to tell their side.
"It was truly horrendous listening to the defence, it felt like Grace was on trial, yet not able to defend herself.
"Hopefully this means no other family has to go through this & men will stop using this defence as an excuse to kill women, knowing they can get a lesser sentence."
Millane's killer, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years after Millane was killed in an Auckland city apartment on the eve of her 22nd birthday after a Tinder date.
He appealed his sentence in the Court of Appeal at Auckland yesterday, where his legal team argued that the jury was not properly directed when it came to considering the issue of consent - nor were they equipped to properly analyse expert evidence.
And they said errors were made in the 17-year sentence handed down, making it too harsh and unjust.
The decision of Justice Stephen Kos, Justice Mark Cooper and Justice Patricia Courtney has been reserved and will be reported once it has been released to the Herald.
- additional reporting NZ Herald