Murdered teen Hannah Foster 'made desperate silent 999 mobile call as she was abducted - but was cut off by police'

A bright A-level pupil was cut off by police during a desperate 999 call after being kidnapped by a man who raped and strangled her, a court has heard.

Hannah Foster, 17, an aspiring doctor, phoned the emergency services and left the line open as she lay in the back of a van after being snatched from the street near her home.

But her silent plea for help came to nothing because she was so frightened of discovery that she could not raise her voice to tell the operator what was happening to her, a jury at Winchester Crown Court has been told.

Hannah Foster
Maninder Pal Singh Kohli

Hannah Foster made a frantic 999 call after she was abducted by her alleged killer Maninder Pal Singh Kohli, right, a court has heard

All that could be heard was background noise and the chilling instruction: 'Keep your head down please.'

Seconds later, Hannah was automatically disconnected because of the force's policy to cut off 'accidentally dialled' calls.

Her body was discovered 36 hours later in bushes close to a country lane.

Today, the jury studied images from CCTV footage showing the schoolgirl's last known movements as she walked home from a night out with her best friend in March 2003.

Seconds after the grainy images were captured, she was snatched from the street by Maninder Pal Singh Kohli, the prosecution alleges.

He was to flee the country for his Indian homeland four days after the murder, the court was told.

Hannah Foster's family

Tears: Hannah's parents Trevor and Hilary and sister Sarah at court. Sarah wept as the jury was told how Hannah's body was found

The jury heard that DNA tests on blood found on Hannah's body and in the van showed there was a one in a billion chance it was not Kohli's.

Nicholas Haggan, QC, prosecuting, said: 'The case is clear and utterly compelling. It was he who abducted, raped and murdered Hannah. He snatched her from the street, he drove off with her in his van, he found somewhere quiet and he raped her.

'He then strangled her and he dumped her body. When he thought he might get caught, he fled to India.'

Hannah's parents Trevor, 57, an auditor, and Hilary, 51, a former nurse, and her sister Sarah, 20, comforted each other in the public gallery as the details emerged.

Hannah was described as 'highly intelligent'. She had achieved 11 A-star passes at GCSE and had already won a place at medical school at Bristol University.

Sarah wept openly as the prosecution told of the phone call her sister made in a hopeless attempt to save her life.

Mr Haggan said experts had been able to enhance the recording made to the emergency services to the point that they were able to clearly make out Hannah telling her captor her name was Sarah.

'Hannah probably thought that the operator would listen to the conversation and work out that she was being held against her will and that the operator would contact the police,' he said.

Hannah Foster

The 17-year-old's body was found on March 16 2003

'Unfortunately, Hannah would not have known that there was a system in place to prevent accidentally dialled emergency calls from blocking up the system.

'Hannah's call was disconnected after only a very short time and so there was no response to her attempt to get help.'

He added: 'Maybe the operator simply had no idea that this was a genuine emergency call from a girl in need of help.

'There had been no response from the caller. Click. That's it. Gone. The line is cut off.'

He said that during the recording of the call a man with a heavy accent is heard telling Hannah to 'hold your head down please'.

Mr Haggan added: 'You will be able to tell that Hannah is very frightened. There is absolutely no doubt that the female voice is that of Hannah. Her parents were able to confirm that the voice in the recording was hers.'

The prosecution alleged that father-of-two Kohli, who lived close to the Foster family's home in Southampton, spotted Hannah on her way home with her friend Helen Wilkinson on the evening of March 14, 2003.

The pair had been to several bars and had both had three drinks each when they decided to call it a night.

Hannah waved her friend off on a bus at 10.50pm before beginning what should have been a five-minute walk home. She was 500 yards from her front door.

Hannah Foster

'Highly intelligent': Hannah had won a place at medical school at Bristol University

But, according to phone records, she made the 999 call ten minutes later.

Mr Haggan said that Hannah's mother first discovered her daughter had not returned home when she got up the following morning at about 5.30am.

She sent her daughter a text message, but received no response.

Mr Haggan said: 'By 6.30 that morning, having had no response to her message, Mrs Foster became increasingly worried and phoned Hannah's mobile.

'Later that morning, Hannah's father reported her as being missing. Nothing further was ever heard from Hannah  -  she had completely disappeared.'

Her body was discovered the following Sunday having been dumped in bushes on a country lane on the outskirts of Southampton-A post-mortem examination revealed she had been strangled and raped.

The following day her mobile phone and her handbag were found in a recycling plant in Southsea near Portsmouth.

Following an appeal on BBC1's Crimewatch later that month, a colleague of Kohli's, who worked as a sandwich delivery driver, named him as a suspect.

By that time, Kohli had left the country for India, leaving his wife and two young sons behind.

It was when police began examining CCTV footage of the night in question that they were able to place his van in the same locations as Hannah's mobile phone signal, the court heard.

A warrant was issued in April 2003 for his arrest. Fifteen months later, he was located in India.

He was finally extradited to Britain last year.

On his return, DNA samples were taken but he exercised his right to remain silent, the court heard.

Mr Haggan told the court: 'The DNA that was taken from the defendant was analysed.

'It proved to be a perfect match with the male DNA profile recovered from a large number of samples.'

Kohli denies all the charges. The trial, which is expected to last six weeks, continues.

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