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Technical hitch delays first crown court appearance for Swanscombe man Colin Ash-Smith charged with murdering Greenhithe schoolgirl Claire Tiltman

03 March 2014
by Julia Roberts
A man accused of the murder of Greenhithe schoolgirl Claire Tiltman 21 years ago failed to appear in court today due to a technical fault.
Colin Ash-Smith, from Swanscombe, was expected to appear at Maidstone Crown Court via a video link with Belmarsh Prison in south east London at 10am.
However, the system broke down on Friday and had still not been repaired by BT on Monday morning.
Claire Tiltman was found dead in an alleyway in 1993

Claire Tiltman was found dead in an alleyway in 1993

The public gallery in courtroom seven was packed with friends of Claire, who was stabbed more than 40 times in an alleyway off London Road, Greenhithe, in January 1993.
The Dartford Grammar School pupil was killed just four days after her 16th birthday and not far from her home in Woodward Terrace.
Ash-Smith, whose father Aubrey was also in the court with relatives, was charged with Claire's murder after lawyers were presented with a file by Kent Police following a cold case review.
He was due to appear at the crown court building in Barker Road for a preliminary hearing, after being remanded in custody by Maidstone magistrates on Friday.
However, the case was adjourned by Judge Jeremy Carey until next Monday when he told the court the chances of BT repairing the fault "any time soon" were remote.
The Greenhithe alleyway where Claire Tiltman was stabbed

The Greenhithe alleyway where Claire Tiltman was stabbed

Judge Carey had delayed proceedings for several minutes in the hope Ash-Smith could appear on the TV link, despite the prosecution saying progress could be made in his absence.
He said: "So far as production of the defendant by video link is concerned I think he should be produced. There is reasonable expectation that defendants should be produced before the courts."
However, when the glitch could not be resolved quickly, Judge Carey decided he had no other option than to adjourn.
"There can be no effective hearing and so there is not much more to be said," he added.
The court also heard the prosecution and defence share the view the case should be transferred out of Kent.
Ash-Smith's first crown court appearance could therefore be held at the Central Criminal Court, otherwise known as the Old Bailey, next week.

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