New BBC true crime re-examines the case of a student who was murdered after a night out
A man was sentenced to life but new evidence could clear his name
Foreign languages student Jong-Ok Shin was stabbed to death in July 2002 in Charminster, Bournemouth. A Bournemouth local was sentenced to life for her murder, but has always maintained his innocence. Now, new evidence has come to light which could help him to clear his name. The case is being examined by new true crime documentary film, Unsolved: An Alibi for Omar?, which is being released on BBC iPlayer today.
Jong-Ok Shin, known as Oki, had been walking home from a night out when she was attacked. She was described as a popular girl, who was coming to the end of her studies. Her English was good, and she had made a nice life for herself in Bournemouth. She enjoyed the social scene of the area and had been celebrating finishing exams in Elements nightclub (now called Cameo), with friends she had made at uni.
The group she was with all left together and walked home, dropping each other off at their doors. Oki was the last one left walking home. She was then stabbed, and left alone to die on the pavement. She was metres from her home. Before she died she managed to say she had been attacked from behind by “a man in a mask”.
Omar Benguit, a Bournemouth local and heroin addict, was sentenced to life in prison for her murder – but to this day says he is an innocent man. At the time he was sentenced, it looked like the case was solved. A number of witnesses had testified against him and his drug use and 60 previous convictions, including a previous stabbing, were used against him in court too. The main witness for the prosecution said she had driven Benguit, covered in blood, after the murder of Oki.
But, the testimony was believed to be unreliable. The witness had a history of substance abuse too, and was known for making up false testimonies. There was no CCTV or forensic evidence, and other witnesses had said they felt coerced to giving false evidence.
The story has previously been examined in a true crime series for BBC Three, presented and investigated by journalist Bronagh Munro. The first series, Unsolved: The Man With no Alibi, was two parts and explained the case, and lack of alibi for the man who was found guilty. It focused on Omar and his family, and what has happened to them after his conviction. The family have lived in Bournemouth all their lives – and still live with the consequences of him being named and shamed as a convicted murderer.
Now, Omar has spent over 20 years in jail and is eligible for parole in 2022. If he finally confesses to the murder, he could be set free. But he told Bronagh Munro he’d rather die in prison than admit to the murder. In the latest documentary film, Bronagh explores new evidence which could finally give Omar an alibi.
Bronagh previously told The Tab: “They are so many inconsistencies. 12 out of 17 witnesses that gave evidence were addicts with serious addictions, to either heroin or crack cocaine. They are vulnerable, and often tell people what they want to hear. How much reliability can you get?”
She added: “You always have the jeopardy of ‘if I am wrong, I’m helping to free a murderer’. That’s quite a big bar to set and something that would keep me up a lot. It makes me question everything time and time again. This is not just drama, this is real life.”
Watch the trailer for Unsolved: An Alibi for Omar? here:
Is an innocent man in prison for a murder he didn't commit?
— BBC Three (@bbcthree) May 4, 2021
Unsolved: An Alibi for Omar? is available on BBC iPlayer now.
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Featured image previously provided by BBC.