A meals-on-wheels driver who sexually abused and murdered an 86-year-old woman has been jailed 25 years after her death.

Raymond Kay, now 70, strangled Amy Shepherd with a tea towel before slashing her throat with a knife on August 2 1994.

He had been working as a driver as part of a community service punishment for another offence, Bradford Crown Court heard.

Jurors were told he then used that position to ‘identify Ms Shepherd as a vulnerable person who he could target to steal from’.

A number of items were missing from her home following the murder, including a ring, which suggested Kay’s motive for the offence may have been a robbery, the CPS said.

But it was down to advances in forensic science which saw the killer, of Baker Fold, Halifax, finally found guilty in less than hour of jury deliberation.

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Tests were carried out on DNA swabs recovered from the victim’s sheltered accommodation in Folly Hall Gardens, Bradford, where she was found dead.

West Yorkshire Police said that Kay’s DNA was found on a hair on the pensioner’s neck, as well as the tea towel that was used to strangle her.

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He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life with a minimum of 17 years.

The judge said it was ‘almost inevitable’ Kay, who suffers from health problems and has had two previous heart attacks, would die in prison.

She said: ‘The violent assault which you then inflicted on her was unnecessary, cruel and grotesque. Justice has finally been served for Amy Shepherd.’

In a statement released following the verdict, Ms Shepherd’s family said she was a ‘lovely, harmless old lady’.

They continued: ‘There has not been a day which has gone by since that fateful day when we have not thought about her.

‘Not knowing who had committed such an awful crime has caused us severe anxiety, upset and at times, depression.

‘It has had a huge impact on our family and hearing that someone was finally charged with her murder has given us hope that we can finally have some closure.’

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Samantha Davidson, from the CPS, said that Kay had performed a ‘brutal attack upon a defenceless, elderly lady in her own home’.

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She said: ‘In the quarter of a century since her murder, Kay must have thought he had got away with his terrible crime. But he has not.

‘Advances in forensic science provided the scientific evidence needed to convince the jury of his guilt.

‘Our thoughts remain with her relatives, and we hope that the verdict today brings them some closure.’