A man convicted of raping and murdering his friend on the way home from celebrating her birthday has been jailed for a minimum of 29 years.
Wesley Streete, 20, raped Keeley Bunker and dumped her body in a brook in Wigginton Park, Tamworth, in September 2019, hiding her under branches.
Ms Bunker had earlier been to a concert to celebrate turning 20 and “trusted” the killer to walk her home.
Streete received a mandatory life sentence at Stafford Crown Court.
The former warehouse packer, 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.
Streete repeatedly lied about what had happened to the would-be classroom assistant after they returned to Tamworth following a night out at Snobs nightclub in Birmingham.
Sentencing Streete, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker said the killer formed a “carefully crafted” scheme of falsehoods following his crime, tailored to fit the evidence.
Prior to leaving for home, Ms Bunker had told a female friend: “I’ve got Wes, he’ll walk me back. It’ll be fine.”
Streete, who once had a football scholarship to play for Lichfield and Tamworth, initially told police he had left her to walk home alone.
He then changed his account at least four times before his trial, and in court claimed he had accidentally killed her during sex.
The judge told Streete that, on the way back to Ms Bunker’s house, he was “satisfied you persuaded Keeley to divert to the rugby club, probably on the pretext of going for a smoke”.
He said: “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”.
The judge stated the choke-hold would have been “minutes, rather than seconds”.
“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.”
Ms Bunker’s uncle, Jason Brown, found her partially-submerged body during a massive search effort involving family, friends and police.
After Streete’s 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”.
The judge said not only had she “lost the opportunity of fulfilling her life ambition, helping to educate young children”, her family had “lost the company of their beloved daughter, sister and niece”.
He said the starting point for Streete’s sentence would be a minimum of 30 years, but reduced the tariff to 29 years and 46 days, allowing for time already served.
The judge told Streete: “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.”
Det Insp Cheryl Hannan, senior investigating officer on the case, said: “I welcome the outcome of this week’s conviction and today’s sentencing and hope it will bring some comfort to Keeley’s friends and family.
“This devious and manipulative character, someone who repeatedly lied and targeted young women, is now behind bars and I am grateful to every single person who helped us reach this conclusion.”