1. ITV Report

Man convicted of murdering Megan Bills and hiding her body in clingfilm-wrapped wardrobe

A man who strangled a 17-year-old girl during a violent sexual attack and then hid her body in a clingfilm-wrapped wardrobe has been found guilty of murder.

Ashley Foster used a shirt as a ligature to kill Megan Bills within hours of meeting her - and then allowed her remains to decompose for more than a fortnight as he searched the internet for so-called snuff movies and necrophilia-related images.

Jurors at Wolverhampton Crown Court unanimously convicted Foster after hearing how the 24-year-old had been released from prison three days before the killing at an ex-offenders' hostel in Brierley Hill.

Foster - who admitted preventing Megan's lawful burial - told his mother in a letter that he had concealed the homeless teenager's body after accidentally throttling her during consensual sex.

At the start of the seven-day trial, prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC said Foster "seemed his normal self" as he enjoyed a roast dinner in the aftermath of the murder - and smirked at a relative when asked why he needed to buy clingfilm.

CCTV showing Megan’s last moments alive with Foster Credit: West Midlands Police

Examination of the killer's mobile phones showed he had made numerous searches relating to strangulation and schoolgirls in the days after the murder on Easter Sunday last year.

Megan's body was found 18 days later at the New Path of Life hostel in Highgate Road by horrified staff, who had inspected Foster's room but been told the "revolting" smell came from the carpets.

Opening the case against Foster, Mr Aylett told the court:

That Megan's violent death must be related to some perverted sexual activity on the part of this defendant, which involves either actual death or the simulation of death, is borne out by the internet searches that the defendant made in the days following Megan's death.

The defendant repeatedly looked for 'snuff' videos - being a type of film in which someone can actually be seen to be, or appear to be, murdered.

– Crispin Aylett QC
CCTV showing Foster after he murdered Megan Credit: West Midlands Police

Megan's body - which was wrapped in a curtain inside the wardrobe was identified through dental records but was so badly decomposed that a post-mortem examination failed to establish how she died.

After giving jurors details of the extent to which the body had decomposed, Mr Aylett told the panel:

If the defendant's purpose was to ensure that it would be as difficult as it could possibly be to work out how she died, he certainly achieved that aim.

The pathologist has said it is simply not possible to say how it is that Megan died.

– Crispin Aylett QC

Detective Inspector Caroline Corfield, from West Midlands Police, said:

He lived with Megan's body in the wardrobe in a very, very small room for two and a half weeks.

Undoubtedly his intention was to escape justice and he almost succeeded because to date we don't have a cause of death for Megan because of the state of decomposition.

He treated Megan's body with utter contempt and he has shown nothing but contempt for the investigation.

– Detective Inspector Caroline Corfield