A former warehouse packer must serve a minimum of 29 years in prison for raping and murdering a female friend who had “trusted” him to walk her home.
Wesley Streete, who towered over his slightly-built victim, dumped Keeley Bunker’s body face-down in a brook in a park before trying to conceal his crime with branches on September 19 last year.
The 20-year-old was given a mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Jeremy Baker at Stafford Crown Court on Friday, for the killing and what the judge called a “carefully crafted” scheme of lies following his crime, tailored to fit the evidence.
Streete repeatedly lied about what had happened to 20-year-old Ms Bunker after they returned to their hometown of Tamworth following a night out at Snobs nightclub in Birmingham to celebrate her recent birthday.
Ms Bunker had earlier told a female friend, Monique Riggon: “I’ve got Wes, he’ll walk me back. It’ll be fine”.
Jailing Streete, Mr Justice Baker said: “She told Monique she would be safe at home, as you had offered to walk with her back to her house.
“Unfortunately nothing could have been further from truth.
“Because, on the way back to her house, I am satisfied you persuaded Keeley to divert to the rugby club, probably on the pretext of going for a smoke.
“However what took place in Wigginton Park is you proceeded to rape Keeley Bunker, in the course of which you murdered her by throttling her, in all probability by placing her in a choke-hold for sufficient period of time to kill her.”
He added that the choke-hold would have been “minutes, rather than seconds”.
The judge said: “When you had finished with her you decided to hide Keeley’s now lifeless body by depositing it in the brook, covering it up with branches.
“You then walked back to your home, went to bed and slept.”
Streete, who once had a football scholarship to play for Lichfield and Tamworth, initially said he had left Ms Bunker to walk home alone, before later claiming that he “accidentally killed her” during consensual sex in the park.
He changed his account at least four times before his trial.
The judge said that while Streete “repeatedly lied” about what had happened, it was Ms Bunker’s uncle, Jason Brown, who made the “dreadful” discovery of her partially-submerged body during a massive search effort involving family, friends and police.
The jury, returning verdicts on Wednesday, found Streete guilty in just over eight hours.
After his conviction, Debbie Watkins, Ms Bunker’s mother, said she had been “robbed” of her “precious and beautiful” daughter.
Ms Bunker’s sister described her sibling as “one of the most vibrant, caring and beautiful souls this earth has ever seen”.
Streete, previously of St Austell Close, Tamworth, was also found guilty of two other counts of rape and three counts of sexual assault against three other victims, said to have happened in previous years.
He was handed jail terms of between six months and five years for those offences, to be served alongside his life sentence.