ITV News Meridian Correspondent Derek Johnson reports from the courtroom:
Judge Sweeney in sentencing Ash-Smith: 'you ended Claire's life which was so full of promise'
"This was a premeditated murder. Your intention was to kill. You took a knife to scene for the purpose, and Claire was vulnerable by reason of her circumstances," Mr Justice Sweeney added.
"Predatory armed killer" Colin Ash-Smith has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 21 years for murdering schoolgirl Claire Tiltman in 1993.
Three friends who led a campaign for justice for their murdered friend spoke of how yesterday's conviction will help them move on.Read the full story ›
After evading justice for 20 years, Colin Ash-Smith - an ex-milkman with a "psycho state of mind" is convicted of Claire Tiltman's murder.Read the full story ›
A "prison confession" by Claire Tiltman killer Colin Ash-Smith provided a significant piece of new evidence that helped ensure his conviction.
Ash-Smith had evaded justice since 1993 for the brutal murder of the schoolgirl, but a change in the law and the testimony of a former prison inmate helped to finally see the case solved.
He confided details to Stefan Dubois, and the "confession" was used as evidence after cold-case detectives reopened the investigation and subsequently charged Ash-Smith with the alleyway murder.
Upon searching Ash-Smith's home last year, police found an edition of a local newspaper marking the first anniversary of Claire's death - kept as a trophy of the fatal attack.
Colin Ash-Smith, who was today convicted of the 1993 murder of Claire Tiltman, kept an "assault plan" in which he wrote of his "psycho state of mind" and detailed his various attacks and attempted attacks on local women.
In one entry in the diary he described a 1988 stabbing attack on a young mother - for which he was jailed - as his "masterpiece", dubbing it "95% successful".
However, he wrote that one abandoned attack at Swanscombe railway station in north Kent, was only "50% successful", adding: "I bottled it. Lucky for her I did, I suppose."
Another account described him breaking into the home of a woman he was stalking, cutting her clothes in a laundry basket before fleeing after hearing her husband in the sitting room.
In an unusual step only possible due to a change in the law in 2003, the diaries were used as evidence in his trial, and provided the backbone for the prosecution's ultimately successful case.
An "evil" former milkman convicted today of the 1993 murder of schoolgirl Claire Tiltman was first questioned in connection with the crime almost 20 years ago.
Colin Ash-Smith, now 46, was quizzed as a suspect by detectives in 1995 but was only charged earlier this year - prompting questions over how he evaded justice for so long.
He has been in prison since a year after, when he was convicted of stabbing two other young women that bore the same hallmarks as Tiltman's murder.
In one 1988 attack which he dubbed his "masterpiece", Ash-Smith had attempted to murder and sexually assault a young mother after pouncing on her, attempting to strangle her and then stabbing her late at night.
The young woman fortunately survived the attack.
Tiltman's parents both died before Ash-Smith could be brought to justice for their daughter's death, but other members of the family today said the verdict meant they could finally "rest in peace".
Lin and Cliff Tiltman spoke of their "complete shock" after their daughter's murder. They described their horror during a press conference. Both parents have since died.
Kevin Hand, who occasionally saw Colin Ash-Smith at the British Legion Club in Dartford and knew the Ash-Smith family, described him as 'creepy'.
During the trial the jury were shown ITV Meridian pictures of Colin Ash-Smith at Claire Tiltman's funeral.