THE brutal killer of a Chesham barmaid has been jailed for life after his victim helped bring him to justice from beyond the grave.

An Old Bailey jury took four hours to find Anthony Ruark, 41, guilty of murdering 25-year-old Jacqueline Poole 18 years ago.

Mrs Poole, who worked at Whispers Nightclub, in Station Road, Chesham, was found dead in her flat on February 13, 1983.

She was partially clothed and had been garrotted with a curtain cord. She had also sustained severe blows to her head and face.

Ruark, who admitted having sex sessions with the barmaid, was the original prime suspect for the killing but the police investigation collapsed because of a lack of evidence.

But a recent breakthrough in DNA technology saw Ruark linked to the murder scene.

Mrs Poole had clawed at Ruark's hands as he strangled her and tiny fragments of his skin collected from her fingernails linked him to the murder.

Judge Kenneth Machin QC, passing sentencing last Thursday, told Ruark: "Eighteen years ago you murdered a 25-year-old girl who had done you no harm whatsoever.

"What happened in the flat, one shall never know.

"But you put around her neck a ligature and strangled her.

"This was in my judgement a brutal murder of a defenceless woman who had been nothing but kind to you."

He added: "But for the advances in science you would have not stood trial today."

Ruark, a plasterer from Uxbridge at the time of the killing, denied murder throughout his trial but admitted having sex with Mrs Poole on the night she died.

Mrs Poole, born in Slough, was engaged to marry a labourer she met while working in Chesham.

The court was told that Mrs Poole, whose previous marriage had broken down, was having sex with Ruark unknown to her husband.

Ruark, who moved to Gloucestershire after the murder, was also cheating on his girlfriend.

DCI Norman McKinlay, who led the murder investigation, said after the verdict: "He [Ruark] believed he had got away with murder for 18 years.

"This case is an example of how advances in forensic science will help catch those who think they have escaped justice."