"Keeley was the kindest, most caring, innocent young lady you could ever meet and was only just starting out in her life.Such is the hell we feel we are incapable of showing any forgiveness."
- Debbie Watkins (Keeley Bunker's mother)
It was the 18th of September 2019. A Wednesday. It was a day Keeley had been looking forward to. She had concert tickets for the Aitch concert at the O2. Just a few days before she tweeted:
"Only thing keeping me going is seeing Aitch on Wednesday, hopefully he’ll see me and we’ll get married xxx.”
Keeley had just turned twenty a few days earlier so wanted to celebrate her birthday. That night, she met up with her friend Monique Riggon and they both went to the concert together. They were good friends and lived close to each other in Tamworth,Staffordshire, England, United Kingdom. They had a great time at the concert.
After the concert they went to a nightclub, Snobs nightclub in Birmingham, and met up with a few friends. After a few drinks and a bit of dancing, Keeley, Monique and one of their friends, Wesley Streete, all shared a taxi back to Tamworth. They were all from there. The taxi dropped them off at Monique's house.
It was around 4am and Monique asked Keeley if she wanted to stay the night as Keeley's house was a twenty minute walk from Monique's house. But Keeley declined. She had an interview later that day for a teaching assistant job that she really wanted so she wanted to get a bit of sleep in her own bed before that took place. She told Monique:
“I’ve got Wes, Wes lives near me, Wes will walk me back, it’ll be fine.”
Keeley and Wesley had been friends since Junior School so they knew each other well and he lived very close to her house and was walking that way anyway. Monique asked him to make sure to look after Keeley and he told her he would make sure she got home safely.
Keeley didn't make it to the interview that day. And when her family and friends called her, there was no answer. So, at 5.30pm that evening, the evening of the 19th of September, Keeley's dad Christopher reported his daughter missing.
Police spoke to Wesley. He told them that they walked some of the way home together but they went their separate ways when they reached a telephone box near his home. That was the last time he saw Keeley. Wesley had been quite drunk and for every drink the girls had, he had three.
Police asked him to travel in the police car with them to show them exactly where they parted ways. He showed them the telephone box. But when they asked for his phone, he didn't want to give it to them.
While Wesley was showing the police the route they walked home, Keeley's family and friends searched Tamworth looking for her. Just a few hours after she was reported missing, a search group heard a harrowing scream. It was Keeley's uncle, Jason Brown. He found her body. A member of the search party described the scream as :
"the most horrendous scream or shout I've ever heard in my life."
Keeley's body was partially submerged in a pond in Wiggington Park in Tamworth. Her underwear was pulled down around her ankles. A post mortem examination found she had been raped and strangled to death.
Wesley was arrested and charged with murder.
He denied being involved and gave four different accounts of what happened that night prior to his Trial. But the Prosecution case was strong. Despite Wesley initially stating that he went a separate way to Keeley when they reached the telephone box, CCTV showed them entering the park together. The Prosecution claimed the footage showed Keeley trying to get away. They also found his DNA on Keeley's body.
Wesley in custody
Wesley changed his story again when the Trial began. He continued to insist he was innocent of the murder charge but claimed he killed her accidentally when they were having sex in the park. Wesley gave evidence at his Trial.
He admitted that he lied about what happened but said he only did so because he was "scared and embarrassed."
Wesley claimed that as they walked home that night, they “started flirting” with each other. He said that Keeley began “teasing” him. He said that it wasn't "like touchy type of flirt or anything, it was just looking at each other, in a flirtatious way.”
Wesley said that when they reached the park, they kissed and became more intimate and then had sex. He told the Court that Keeley seemed happy.
He said that the CCTV did not show Keeley trying to get away from him. He claimed that they were "play fighting."
Wesley claimed that during sex, he put his arm around Keeley's neck and that was how she died. It was an accident. He admitted he hid her body in the pond and went back five further times to cover Keeley's body with branches.
Asked by his lawyer why he lied, he told the Court:
“I didn’t know how to act and explain to other people how she died because I felt embarrassed in myself and very scared, to explain to police – everyone. My mom and dad. Everyone.”
The Prosecution didn't agree with his version of events. Keeley had scratch marks on her neck which they believed was inflicted as she tried to loosen Wesley's grip. It was their case that Keeley only ever viewed Wesley as a friend but he wanted more and when she rejected him, he did not accept no as an answer. It was their case that she died as a result of strangulation which probably occurred during a chokehold and it would have taken minutes, not seconds, for Keeley to die. They claimed that he was not embarrassed and he didn't panic after the murder. In fact, he went home to bed and slept afterwards.
The Jury deliberated for around eight hours. They found Wesley guilty. He was sentenced to life in prison to serve a minimum term of 29 years and 46 days.
The Judge told Wesley:
"You may never be released as that will only occur if and when the Parole Board is satisfied it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that you should be confined. Even if you are released, you will remain on licence and subject to recall for life."
After Keeley's murder, other young women, friends and acquaintances of Wesley, came forward. They claimed that they were sexually assaulted and raped by Wesley. He was found guilty of two other counts of rape and three counts of sexual assault against three other women.
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"The criminal justice system will take a hard look at what happened to Matthew Eappen. It is up to the rest of us to take an even harder look at who is minding our children."
- Eileen McNamara, the Boston Globe
"The effects of abuse are devastating and far reaching. Domestic violence speaks many languages, has many colors and lives in many different communities."
- Sandra Pupatello
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