LONDON — More than a year and half after the murder of Nahid Al-Manea, a female Saudi scholarship student in the UK, a British teenager has admitted stabbing her to death.
The 17-year-old, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, stabbed Al-Manea in June 2014 in Essex city. He also admitted killing British national James Attfield, 33, three months earlier.
He pleaded guilty during a hearing on Friday at the Old Bailey, Britain’s central criminal court, to two counts of manslaughter, but denied two counts of murder.
The teenager, from Colchester, was arrested after allegedly being found with a knife on May 26 in the same area where Al-Manea was killed.
Al-Manea, a University of Essex student who hailed from Al-Jouf in Saudi Arabia, had been studying on the English Language Program at the International Academy within the university since January 2014. She was expected to complete the program in August 2014 and was hoping to go on to study life sciences at PhD level.
Al-Manea was attacked on the morning of June 17, 2014,as she walked along a path to the university . She was stabbed at least 15 times and was found bleeding to death in a park in Colchester.
Attfield, who had a brain injury after being hit by a car four years previously, was found fighting for his life in the town’s Castle park three months before the attack on Al-Manea. The Colchester man died later in hospital.
Investigator Morgan Cronin of Essex crime directorate said after the hearing: “We hope that today’s guilty plea will provide the families of James Attfield and Nahid Al-Manea with some comfort by finally establishing who carried out their atrocious killings.”
The brutal murders had sent shockwaves through the community in Colchester and beyond, he said, adding that detectives had worked tirelessly to piece together the evidence.
At the height of the investigation, more than 100 detectives, uniformed officers, community support officers and civilian staff were involved. A number of people were also arrested.
At Friday’s hearing, the teenager, wearing a grey suit, leather jacket and black rimmed spectacles, spoke only to enter his plea and confirm his name. He was remanded in custody.
Police said a trial would start on April 11, at Guilford or the Central London Court.
Chairman of the International Academy at Essex University Richard Barnard said: “Nahid was a very hardworking and conscientious student and was making real progress. She was very respectable and had the ambition to enroll in further studies. She will be missed by her teachers and colleagues.”
In July 2014, the university announced a scholarship in memory of Al-Manea.
The Saudi Education Ministry also announced that an award for distinguished scholarship students studying abroad would be named after Al-Manea.