true crime

After murdering and raping India, 20, her killer went for a kebab to ‘clear his head’.

“We’ll make sure we get you home in a taxi safely.”

Those were the words middle-aged “oddball” Edward Tenniswood said to 20-year-old India Chipchase, outside a club, in the early hours of January 30, 2016.

Tenniswood did get India into a taxi, but he didn’t get her home. He took her back to his flat, where all his possessions were wrapped in plastic, and then he raped and killed her.

Chipchase was living in Northampton, in the UK, working as a barmaid, with plans to become a paramedic. Described by her family as “vibrant”, she was having a night out with friends at NB’s club, dancing and drinking. But her friends noticed she seemed upset about her on-off relationship with her boyfriend, Grant Hare.

At some point after midnight, Chipchase disappeared.

“We thought she’d either gone home, or met up with other friends,” friend Harry Moylan said.

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Chipchase had decided to go home, and club security had found her a taxi. But when the driver, Andrew Birkenshaw, asked her for the fare in advance, she “got angry and threw a wobbly”. She tried to go back into the club to rejoin her friends, but she was deemed too drunk to re-enter.

Christopher Christon saw her outside NB’s club at about 1am, talking on her phone.

“I think she was trying to get through to someone,” he said. “It seemed like she was crying.”

Chipchase was trying to get in contact with her on-off boyfriend Hare. Hare’s phone battery was flat, and he didn’t get the messages.

Christon noticed an older, balding man, wearing a thick jacket and a rucksack, approach Chipchase.

“He put his arm around her and said, ‘We’ll make sure we get you home in a taxi, safely.’”

That man was Tenniswood. Described by his landlord as a “friendless loner” and his lawyer as an “oddball”, Tenniswood was a bookkeeper who lived on his own in a rented flat. His furniture was covered in plastic sheets, there were newspapers spread over the floors, and his computer was covered in cling film.

“It seems illogical to keep cleaning it to use it,” Tenniswood explained. “Instead you just replace the cling film, rather than the rigmarole of cleaning.”

He had cut-out pictures of pretty women, including the pop group Little Mix and model Heather Stewart-Whyte, in his kitchen. He claimed to have had a relationship with Stewart-Whyte, a claim she flatly denied.

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After approaching Chipchase outside NB’s club, Tenniswood managed to get her into a taxi. He told the taxi driver to let them out several hundred metres from his flat.

By 3am, Chipchase was dead, lying on a mattress on the floor in Tenniswood’s bedroom. She had been raped and strangled. Her body had more than 30 injuries. Tenniswood’s blood was underneath her fingernails, indicating a struggle.

Elsewhere in Northampton, Hare got home and recharged his phone. He saw the missed calls and messages from Chipchase and tried to call her back, but he only got her voicemail. It was just after 3am.

As the day went on, Chipchase’s family became concerned that they couldn’t contact her. Their concerns grew when she didn’t turn up for her 4pm shift at The Collingtree pub. They reported her missing to the police.

Her mother, Suzanne Poynter, posted a message on Facebook:

“India Eve Chipchase please let me know you’re ok please darling… love you xxxcc.”

Meanwhile, Tenniswood had put Chipchase’s clothes back on and covered her body with a plastic sheet.

“It’s a traumatic experience when dressing a body,” he later complained.

He went out for a kebab, to “clear his head”.

The following day, police made a public appeal for information about Chipchase. When they checked CCTV footage taken outside the club, they saw Chipchase being approached by Tenniswood.

One of the officers recognised him, even though he didn’t have a criminal record. Before long, they were breaking down the door of his flat. They found Chipchase’s body.

“Sweetheart, sweetheart, can you wake up?” a police officer asked. “Can you hear me?”

“She’s gone, she’s gone,” said another. “Sh*t, she’s gone.”

Police found Tenniswood at a nearby hotel, where he’d been drinking beer and checking out a news website about the search for Chipchase. He didn’t seem surprised to see them.

“I suppose you’ve been to the house,” he said to them. “You’ve found what you’re looking for.”

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Tenniswood was charged with the rape and murder of Chipchase. At his trial in July 2016, he claimed that he and Chipchase had had consensual sex, and that her death was accidental.

Tenniswood told the court that he’d bonded with the 20-year-old in the street outside the club, because both of them had been refused entry. He said she’d willingly gone back to his flat, where they’d shared a tender moment in his bedroom.

“She just happens to make this incredibly moving comment, just a sweet India thing to do,” he claimed.

He told the court Chipchase had put his hands on her neck and pushed, hinting that she wanted him to keep pushing.

“I, in my overeagerness to please her, either sustained the pressure just too long or just gripped too tightly,” he said.

The jury didn’t believe him. They took just one hour and 45 minutes to return a unanimous “guilty” verdict.

“Whatever happened on that night and whatever stories are told, the fact is our daughter was murdered,” Chipchase’s father, Adelaide doctor Jeremy Chipchase, said in a victim impact statement.

“We will continue to have this pain, anguish and emotion until our last breaths.”

Chipchase’s mother said her daughter “lit up a room” when she walked in.

“By the actions of this man we have been condemned to a life sentence of grieving for a child whose potential we will never see, a sister we no longer share secrets with,” she said.

The judge, Mr Justice Saunders, described it as a crime of “utter depravity”.

Tenniswood was jailed for life, and will serve a minimum of 30 years.

Since India’s death, her mother has been working to set up a group called the Northampton Guardians. The Guardians are volunteers who patrol the streets, looking to protect women who are out for the night and find themselves on their own. Their aim is to help women get home safely – in India’s memory.

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