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Claire Tiltman's murderer Colin Ash-Smith was not freed from prison to attend his father's funeral at Medway Crematorium

Schoolgirl murderer Colin Ash-Smith was not freed from prison to attend his father's funeral.

The 47-year-old, who was jailed for life in December 2014 for the frenzied stabbing of teenager Claire Tiltman in Greenhithe almost 23 years ago, could have applied for temporary release from category B HMP Durham in the north east of England.

However, although he was not among the mourners at the service for Aubrey Ash-Smith at Medway Crematorium, a floral tribute of cream chrysanthemums and blue ribbon spelling the word 'Dad' was there on his behalf.

The floral tribute from killer Colin Ash-Smith to his dad, Aubrey
The floral tribute from killer Colin Ash-Smith to his dad, Aubrey

The former milkman from Swanscombe is the only child of Mr Ash-Smith and his wife, Diane.

A list published on the outside wall of the crematorium's East Chapel detailing the timings of all the services on Wednesday omitted Mr Ash-Smith's name, reportedly for 'confidentiality' reasons.

But nine floral tributes, including the one from his son, were laid out for view in the sheltered walkway leading from the chapel and into the garden of remembrance.

Mr Ash-Smith, who lived in Myrtle Place, Stone, and was once a local councillor, died last month. He had been under the care of the ellenor hospice in Northfleet.

News at the time that the killer could be released to attend his father's funeral sparked outrage on social media, although others stated it was his human right.

The floral tributes to Aubrey Ash-Smith
The floral tributes to Aubrey Ash-Smith

Permission for prisoners to attend funerals, medical appointments and court hearings, or to visit dying relatives, is granted under what is known as a Special Purpose Licence and for what is termed "exceptional, personal circumstances and to wider criminal justice needs".

Once applied for in writing by the inmate, a risk assessment is carried out.

Ash-Smith was always a prime suspect for 16-year-old Claire's savage murder in January 1993 but was not formally linked to the crime until a cold case review by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate 20 years later.

This led to him being charged in February 2014 and then convicted at the Inner London Crown Court in Southwark after a five-week trial.

Aubrey Ash-Smith outside his home when it was searched by police in 2013. Picture: Invicta Kent Media/Jim Bennett
Aubrey Ash-Smith outside his home when it was searched by police in 2013. Picture: Invicta Kent Media/Jim Bennett

At the time he was jailed for life with a minimum tariff of 21 years, Ash-Smith was already serving a life sentence for two other stabbings on women, one in Swanscombe in 1988 and the other in 1995.

The second was just 400 yards from the alleyway in which he had ambushed Claire. The Dartford Grammar School pupil was walking to a friend's house when she was attacked.

The Ash-Smith family knew the Tiltman family and attended Claire's funeral, with Ash-Smith dressed in the jacket he was believed to have been wearing when he killed her.

The beige-coloured jacket was seized by police after his arrest in 1995 but forensic techniques were not as advanced and no links could be made to Claire.

Police later confirmed the jacket was among belongings returned to the Ash-Smiths. However, it was not found during a search of the family home as part of the cold case investigation.

Claire Tiltman was stabbed to death in 1993
Claire Tiltman was stabbed to death in 1993

Mr Ash-Smith, then 67, told KentOnline's sister paper the Dartford Messenger that police had "lost the plot" and maintained his son was innocent.

He himself was jailed for 12 months in 1997 for dismantling, boiling and dumping an Army knife belonging to his son and discovered after the 1995 attack.

Mr Ash-Smith denied perverting the course of justice but was found guilty after a trial at Maidstone Crown Court.

The sentencing judge told him his actions “caused questions to be raised about your son’s conduct in respect of Claire Tiltman” and prolonged the agony endured by the teenager’s parents, Linda and Cliff.

Both died before seeing their only child's killer brought to justice.

Last year, Ash-Smith's conviction appeal bid was rejected by three of the country’s top judges.

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