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Colin Ash-Smith, charged with murder of Claire Tiltman on day of parole board hearing, jury at Inner London Crown Court hears

The man accused of the murder of schoolgirl Claire Tiltman claimed in a phone call from prison there was no evidence linking him to the fatal stabbing, a court was told.

Former milkman Colin Ash-Smith said he was "amazed" at being charged - by fax, he said, and on the day he had a parole board hearing.

He also branded the evidence against him as "quite comical" in the laughter-riddled phone chat from HMP Belmarsh to former inmate and convicted sex offender Stefan Dubois just three months ago.

Colin Ash-Smith at the time of his arrest for the knife attack on a woman in Greenhithe in 1995
Colin Ash-Smith at the time of his arrest for the knife attack on a woman in Greenhithe in 1995

The pair met in HMP Wakefield after Ash-Smith, from Swanscombe, was jailed for two knife attacks on young women in 1988 and 1995. They remained friends after Mr Dubois' release from a 12-year sentence.

A recording of the call, made in August, was played to the jury at Inner London Crown Court, where Ash-Smith denies murder.

They were told earlier in the trial that the 46-year-old phoned Mr Dubois after learning he had made a statement to police about a conversation they had in prison in which Ash-Smith spoke of "snapping and attacking" someone after spotting them on a road crossing.

Claire was murdered in a "frenzied" knife attack in an alleyway off London Road, Greenhithe, on January 18, 1993.

The prosecution allege Ash-Smith first saw the 16-year-old on a crossing near Knockhall Chase just minutes before stabbing her to death.

Ash-Smith thanked his friend after remarking he had seen his statement but then said it was "no biggy".

Claire Tiltman was murdered in 1993
Claire Tiltman was murdered in 1993

Having then mentioned the pedestrian crossing, Ash-Smith added: "It's not some big secret they have suddenly found.

"It's quite comical. It's a serious thing but I have looked through the statements and I think is that it?

"There's nothing there that relates to this offence. I know where I was. People know where I was that evening. I have people to say where I was."

Despite a warning from Mr Dubois to not say "too much" over the phone, Ash-Smith continued: "They even took stuff out of my cell and using it as evidence. Says it all really.

There's nothing there, there's nothing there."

The two men also chatted about the location of Belmarsh Prison in South East London, the prison regime and the lack of evening association time.

Ash-Smith also told Mr Dubois that while he had a TV, his Playstation was "still in reception" but he had kept busy by reading and writing.

"My mum and dad are dead upset by this," he added.

Mr Dubois then remarked that the police were "ticking boxes" and "desperate" to clear the case up.

The Greenhithe alleyway where Claire Tiltman was repeatedly stabbed
The Greenhithe alleyway where Claire Tiltman was repeatedly stabbed

"I would like to know what they have got because I know there's nothing there," continued Ash-Smith in the call.

"They seem quite intent on having this trial but my lot seem to think where's the actual evidence that connects us to this crime?

"All they have is the evidence of my past behaviour. There is nothing to actually connect me to this."

He also told Mr Dubois that after being charged on the day he was due before the parole board he had not been questioned by police.

"Just out of the blue they charged me with this. They didn't even come to see me to charge me. They charged me by fax. Apparently they can do that."

The trial continues.

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