Published: 06:00, 15 May 2021
| Updated: 12:13, 16 May 2021
A rapist and murderer spent 32 years in prison only to begin stalking a woman after his release.
Kevin Downing from Maidstone, is now back behind bars for four months after being convicted of the offence, but he was cleared of intending to cause his victim fear of violence.
The 57-year-old was jailed at the age of 25 in 1988 for abducting, raping and murdering 17-year-old Amanda Hopkinson in Dartford.
His girlfriend at the time told the Sunday Mirror how she woke to find him in her bedroom clutching a knife and wearing a towel. He told her a friend had carried out the attack and made her drive him back to the scene while he downed cans of beer.
When they arrived police were already there and he even joked with one officer, asking if "some big house had been turned over".
He was released last year and moved to Tonbridge Road, Maidstone.
While there he met up with the 35-year-old victim, having first started speaking to her while he was in jail.
During his three-decade sentence he first received letters, calls and visits from a friend who was the victim's mother.
On his release, the victim met him to give him support - but he became infatuated and obsessive, sending her many texts, including ones about painting her breasts.
At one point he took photos of her car registration while it was parked outside her home and tracked her down to her work place.
She told the jury she believed Downing had lied to her, claiming he had not carried out the murder and had only pleaded guilty to protect her mother and family.
She later found a newspaper clipping detailing the facts from the 1988 trial.
She said: "He said he was protecting us... I have been misled by Downing for many years. I felt I had been betrayed by this. I believe he and my mother colluded with each other over this. I shouldn't have listened to one more of her lies.
"I discovered that he had abducted, raped and murdered a young woman but I was told it had been his girlfriend... I have been told a lot of things. Had I known the full details I would not have had so much contact."
She said she later researched details and discovered newspaper accounts of the trial which painted a very horrific picture.
"At the time I was naive. I was played like a kipper," she added.
She told how they met in Maidstone after his release but claimed his conversations were "inappropriate" and then he sent texts, telling the jury: "It was text, text, text... all the time."
He had asked her to keep a folder for him which he had brought from his prison cell.
But when she later opened it she discovered it was full of pictures of her.
'I felt sick...I feel sick discussing it now. I felt scared and felt like an idiot...'
She told the jury: "I sent him pictures of me and my husband... but there were only pictures of me in the folder.
"I felt sick... I feel sick discussing it now. I felt scared and felt like an idiot... I felt as if I had been played for a fool."
The victim said she had written to him from seven years-old and visited while he was serving his time in prison on the Isle of Wight.
In 2013 and 2020 she also penned letters in support of his bid for parole after coming to view him as "an uncle" or "godfather"
She said: "The relationship was platonic. He was presented to me as being caring and kind.
"On September 9 he rang to say he was out (of jail) and asked to see me. We met in Maidstone at about 7pm. I remember I was wearing a leather jacket and he called me a biker babe."
Immediately he began discussing her marital problems and whether or not she should be on dating websites like Tinder.
"I told him he was crossing boundaries and I didn't want to talk about that. He said he knew I wanted to settle down and have kids and said I shouldn't be hanging around with losers," she said.
"I got upset and told him to drop it. I said it to him loads of times. I said it on the phone. I said it to his face. I told him it was not his concern and talking about it just made me feel rubbish."
She said Downing feared "going back inside" and at a lunch-time meeting put his arm around her "and clung on to her the whole time".
"I told him 'don't hug me and don't kiss me on the lips'. He also tried to hold hands as we walked down the road."
Judge Julian Smith imposed a 10-year ban on Downing contacting the victim. He was recalled to prison for breaching his licence.
Speaking to KentOnline after the case, the victim said: "To other victims I want to say that they should gather evidence against their stalkers and keep a log.
"Go to the police with what they have. My experience was bad until I made that call but all credit goes to the officers who worked the case especially DC Lorraine Morgan.
"It will take a long time to get over this. But I will".