Leeds man convicted of transsexual murder

A man was convicted today of killing a transsexual prostitute 10 years ago after being trapped by a palm print.

James Hopkins was arrested after his palm print was matched to a bloody print on a door and two prints on newspapers, including the Sun.

He was found guilty of murder after the Old Bailey jury took only one day to reach a verdict, and remanded for sentencing later this week.

Judge Martin Stephens said he would be jailed for life after a decision on the minimum term to be served.

Hopkins "must have thought he had got away with it", prosecutor Nicholas Hilliard QC told the jury.

But in 2007, police knocked on his door in Leeds and arrested him for killing Robyn Browne, 23, in central London in February 1997.

Hopkins, 42, had settled in Bawn Drive, Farnley, Leeds, with a woman and her child and worked as a roofer.

He denied murdering Ms Browne, a pre-op transsexual, in a flat in Gosfield Street, Marylebone.

At the time of her death she wore a black wig and had been having treatment for a sex change.

The body of the victim, who was born James Errol Browne, was found on a bed with nine stab wounds to the chest and neck.

There was blood on the bed and walls and there appeared to have been an attempt to steal items which was abandoned when the killer was disturbed, said Mr Hilliard.

Mr Hilliard said it was not until palm prints could be identified automatically from the national database that Hopkins was arrested.

He told the court that another man called "Appee" had asked him go to the flat and had killed Ms Browne.

The court was told he had told police they were after an address book containing famous names.

Mr Hilliard said: "There is some evidence that Robyn did have some clients who were in the public eye."

But he said of Hopkins's claims: "It was all untrue."

Ms Browne's sister Louise said in a statement to the court that his sister had been much loved despite her lifestyle.

She said: "Now there can be some sort of closure. Her death impacts on those who knew her."

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