‘Vicious’ attacker murdered ‘gentle’ homeless woman as she slept outside Plaistow church

Harriet BrewisThu, 4 February 2021, 2:04 pm

<p>Guilty: Police said Kieran Rifat, 22, showed' mindless, wilful cruelty</p> (Metropolitan Police)
Guilty: Police said Kieran Rifat, 22, showed’ mindless, wilful cruelty(Metropolitan Police)

A man who “viciously” murdered a homeless woman as she slept on the stairs of an east London church has been sentenced to life in prison.

Keiran Rifat, 22, fatally attacked 42-year-old Kelly Stewart outside the Barking Memorial Church in Plaistow in the early hours of 26 March last year.

Rifat hit Ms Stewart with a rock, before repeatedly stamping on her head and body, a court heard.

He then dragged her through an alleyway to the back of the church where he assaulted her further with a gas canister.

Miss Stewart was well known to staff and volunteers at the church where she attended drop-in sessions for homeless people, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said in a statement.

She would regularly use its steps as a place to sleep.

Her body was discovered when a pastor noticed scattered clothing and a bloody trail at the front of the building the following morning.

Kelly Stewart viewed the church as a place of sanctuary and protectionGoogle streetview
Kelly Stewart viewed the church as a place of sanctuary and protectionGoogle streetview

Police found Miss Stewart hidden beneath a pile of cardboard and metal sheets.

It was later established that Miss Stewart had died from severe head injuries.

Rifat was under the influence of cocaine when he was finally arrested on April 1, 2020. He later pleaded guilty to murder.

On Thursday, February 4, he was sentenced to a minimum term of 18 years behind bars following a trial at the Old Bailey.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1331560764835041280&lang=en-gb&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fuk.yahoo.com%2Fnews%2Fvicious-attacker-murdered-gentle-homeless-140430892.html&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=550px

Following the sentencing, Detective Inspector Darren Jones, from the Metropolitan Police, said: “I have been a detective for years and investigated many violent cases, but Rifat’s attack truly did shock myself and the team with his mindless, wilful cruelty.

“Kelly was peacefully sleeping on church steps when she was attacked, and had done nothing to provoke Rifat’s terrible actions. I do not know what went through his mind when he targeted her and, to this day, he has still not explained why he did what he did.

“Our thoughts remain with Kelly’s family throughout this very painful time.”

In a separate statement, Bridget Fitzpatrick, of the CPS, said: “This was an unprovoked, vicious attack on a woman in the most vulnerable of positions.

“Kelly Stewart had been described by those who knew her as ‘gentle’ and ‘unassuming’.

“She had chosen the steps of Barking Memorial Church as a sanctuary, and in the hope that it would offer her some protection.

“For reasons only known to Keiran Rifat, he chose to subject his victim to the most vicious of assault which tragically resulted in her death.

“The strong prosecution case included CCTV footage of the violent attack, which allowed police to go on to identify Rifat as the killer, leaving him with little choice but to admit his guilt.

“Although nothing can bring Miss Stewart back, I hope this prosecution goes some way in comforting those who knew and cared for her.”

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IS THIS A BLOODY JOKE!!! LIFE IMPRISONMENT WITH A MINIMUM OF 18 YEARS? OUR BRITISH LEGAL SYSTEM IS BECOMING A BLOODY JOKE!!! LIFE DOESN’T MEAN LIFE ANYMORE. HE SHOULD HAVE GOT A MINIMUM OF 40 YEARS IMPRISONMENT. HE MERCILESSLY KILLED A HOMELESS WOMAN FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!