The Jury Room: Case 6 - Omar Benguit
By Dave Macleod, Thursday 25th May 2017

In the early hours of 12 July 2002, a masked man stabbed Korean student Jong-ok Shin three times in the back as she walked home alone from a night out in the seaside town of Bournemouth. Terrified and thousands of miles away from her family, the 26 year old died from her injuries.

It was a random cowardly attack; she had no defense wounds as she didn’t even get the chance to fight back. The whole community, students and locals were horrified.

6 weeks later, a prostitute with a drug habit called Beverly Brown, who had known Benguit, was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting. She gave police hints as to who had committed the murder. Ms Brown told police that she drove three men to an area close to where the stabbing happened, picking them up later and observing that Omar Benguit had blood on his t-shirt. The witness told police she also saw Benguit wrapping an object in a towel, which he then put into a shopping bag and stored under a seat.

Police were unable to find any forensic evidence to link Benguit to the crime and a murder weapon has never been recovered. The prosecution’s case was that Benguit was assisted with the murder from the other men and Beverly Brown had observed incriminating actions and behaviours.

After two failed trials, where a jury could not reach a verdict on murder, prosecutors secured permission from authorities to bring a third trial in 2005. Here, a jury found Omar Benguit guilty of murder. He was given a life sentence and told he would serve a minimum of 20 years.

He has lost two subsequent appeals, but since his conviction new evidence has emerged which throws doubt on whether Benguit is the real killer.  Beverley Brown went on national TV and said she saw Omar stab Oki when she had already told three juries she didn’t see the murder. The inconsistency of her post-trial statements and CCTV evidence prove she made false claims about the events and this calls into question the reliability of her as a witness. The defense team for Benguit also suggests the real culprit is a known killer, named Danillo Restivo. Living in Bournemouth, he had a reputation for attacking women with a knife and wearing a mask. Could Omar Benguit be in prison for Danillo’s crime?

Click here for more information about The Jury Room on CBS Reality, including the podcast, gallery and cast video biographies.

Related show tags: THE JURY ROOM
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