In a room in Italy, Rudy Guede appears carefree as he laughs and jokes with members of his ‘rehabilitation’ team.
The scenes, which appear in a new documentary, show the 34-year-old from the Ivory Coast serving the final months of his sentence for murdering British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy.
Of his 30-year jail term he served just 14 years, the last year of which was spend doing community service.
Guede’s case was fast-tracked which meant he was never compelled to give testimony of to be cross-examined in court despite protesting his innocence.
Nevertheless, his blood-stained fingerprints and DNA at the scene ensured a conviction for Meredith’s murder and sexual assault.
But the only other suspects were American student Amanda Knox and her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, both of whom were acquitted in Italy’s highest court after eight long years of trial and retrial.
I first came face-to-face with suspect Sollecito just hours after the murder when he agreed to be interviewed and smirked for a picture.
Today, the Kercher family is still not clear about what truly happened that night.
It’s why I decided to take part in a new television series which has re-examined the evidence during a painstaking nine-monthinvestigation.
The programme’s findings are as extraordinary as they are revelatory.
It seems that there was not a scrap of reliable evidence to convict Sollecito and his girlfriend who was known as Foxy Knoxy.
So why were they forced to spend years in prison for a crime they did not commit?
Now, 15 years after the brutal murder that shocked the world, the ground-breaking documentary asks: Who DID kill Meredith Kercher?
Meredith Kercher’s killer Rudy Guede (pictured waving from the window of a volunteer centre in 2016, file photo) was formally released from prison 14 years after the grisly murder
Kercher, from Coulsdon, Surrey, was killed just two months after moving to Italy for a study abroad programme at Perugia’s prestigious university (pictured: in an undated photo released in November 2007)
The police were called to the crime scene by Raffaele Sollecito (pictured in the documentary), whose girlfriend Amanda Knox was one of Meredith’s flatmates
Knox and Sollecito both spent four years in prison after their convictions. Knox was also convicted of defamation for wrongly accusing Patrick Lumumba, a bar owner, of the murder. Pictured: Knox and Sollecito in 2007
The murder scene was appalling by any standards and truly shocking even to the experienced police officers who attended the scene.
In footage obtained by a new television series, which will be launched on Paramount+ this week, officers are seen saying: ‘There’s a dead girl. Did you know that? We just arrived. Sh*t. Sh*t,’ as they enter Meredith’s bedroom.
The camera pans down to a duvet on the floor, covering a body.
Bloody hand marks are smeared on the wall and a trail of bloody footprints leads from her bedroom to the front door.
Elsewhere, police find signs of a break-in: a rock had come to rest under a desk after having been apparently thrown through one of her flatmates’ bedrooms. Shattered glass is on the floor nearby.
Just weeks beforehand, her life in the picturesque hill-top town in Umbria must have seemed like a wonderful opportunity for the 21-year-old University of Leeds student from Coulsdon, Surrey.
She was sharing with two Italian students and an American called Amanda Knox in a prime location.
But within weeks of Meredith’s arrival in Perugia she was dead, killed in a bloody knife attack the day after Halloween. She had been sexually assaulted.
The police were called to the crime scene by Raffaele Sollecito, whose girlfriend Amanda Knox was one of Meredith’s flatmates.
In a taped call to the police obtained by the film makers, Raffaele is heard saying in Italian: ‘Hello someone entered the house and broke the window. They messed everything up. And there’s a locked door[..]’
A police officer is heard to ask: ‘So, break in and theft?’ to which Raffaele responds: ‘No, nothing’s been stolen.’
It would be nearly seven weeks before police, in a bungled attempt to gather evidence, realised that Meredith’s cards and wallet were in fact missing from the handbag on her bed.
Neither did police initially remove from the crime scene a vital piece of evidence – a bra clasp lying on the floor.
It was a full 47 days after Meredith’s murder before the police finally bagged up the clasp. But even then, they did so with dirty gloves and put it on the floor to photograph it.
Later, it would be enough to help convict two students who claimed to be friends of Meredith.
Knox being escorted into court on September 26, 2008
Guede pictured being escorted by Italian penitentiary police officers as he leaves Perugia’s court after a hearing on September 26, 2008
Raffaele Sollecito shifts uncomfortably in his seat in a smart apartment in central Milan.
Dressed in a black shirt, he has agreed to give a rare interview for the documentary.
He looks barely older than he did in 2007, when he was thrust into the spotlight as one of the key suspects behind the shocking murder.
But today, it’s not the plight of Meredith and her family which is foremost on his mind, but his own misery – another sign of the immaturity I first saw in him 15 years ago.
And yet you would be forgiven for allowing him a little self-pity when you hear the ordeal he endured.
‘Four years in prison. Six months of solitary confinement,’ he says, barely concealing his anger. ‘And still today, I feel that bitterness even though I moved on with my life.
‘I do regret that I was immature. But we were young. We were just, I mean, kind of foolish, things we didn’t get what was what was going on. Your girlfriend’s roommate is murdered everyone old react in a different way.’
Raffaele’s reaction to the murder, as I will never forget, was strange to say the least.
I first came across him in Garibaldi Street, Perugia, two days after the murder. Having flown into Perugia to report on the murder, I was keen to meet someone who had known Meredith.
Approaching a young man who looked to be around a similar age, I asked: ‘Conoscere Meredith?’, did you know Meredith?
His response, which came in English, was ‘Yes, I knew her. I found her body.’
I invited him to a coffee in the café nearby and we sat down.
At the time I felt sorry for him, sipping his coffee. He cut a rather pathetic figure with his coat undone and hanging off his shoulders.
He had been in the police station all night for questioning, he said, which at the time struck me as odd.
Why would he need to be questioned all night?
But then it was Raffaele who had raised the alarm. Amanda had returned home for a shower, realised something was wrong and gone to get Raffaele for help.
He told me how there were specks of blood in Amanda’s flat. I distinctly remember him flicking his fingers as if to illustrate how the blood might have been distributed around the bathroom.
Then, after our interview he took an interest in a pile of newspapers I was carrying and politely asked me if he could take a look.
After the interview I asked him to pose for the photographer. He complied, but he half smiled for the camera. I said: ‘Let’s take that one again’.
I told him I thought that he might be in shock and asked if I could speak to Amanda, his girlfriend, and he called her on his mobile phone. I could hear her in the background on the call, telling him not to speak to journalists. I asked if he would give me her number which I called later but she didn’t pick up.
Days later they were both arrested on suspicion of murder.
Had I been face-to-face with a cold-blooded killer?
The property where Meredith Kercher was found murdered in 2007, as featured in the new documentary
Amanda Knox appearing as a TV guest on ‘Good Morning America,’ Thursday, September 29, 2016
Handheld camera footage from the house at the time also features in the documentary
By the time the rest of the world’s press arrived in the Italian town, prosecutor Giuliano Mignini was in full swing. His family had been in Perugia for generations and this bombastic, charismatic official was trying to ascertain a motive to assault and kill an innocent woman.
To him, the burglary looked to be staged. He believed that covering up the body was the sign of a woman’s touch at the murder scene, even though knife attacks by women are vanishingly rare.
Nevertheless, a theory was formed that it was a sex game gone wrong. Something apparently seemed off about Amanda and Raffaele – the lovers who raised the alarm.
Neither behaved in a manner that police might have expected from grieving friends and were even seen kissing at the murder scene. They stayed away from a public vigil for Meredith on the steps of the cathedral.
When Raffaele was called to the police station for questioning, officers searched him and found a flick-knife. The police soon ruled that the knife could not have been the murder weapon but it didn’t help his protests of innocence.
‘It was the worst gaffe I have ever did in my life,’ Raffaele admits. ‘Even though my father told me: ‘Leave your knife at home. Don’t bring it with you.’ I was kind of: whatever. F*** it. I didn’t want to think about it.’
Amanda, too, was seen doing stretches and the splits in the corridors of the police station.
Mignini tells the documentary makers: ‘Amanda’s behaviour did not show – at least here – respect for the loss of a friend.’
When police received a report of a black man running through the town on the night of the murder, they thought they had found the culprit in Amanda’s phone: Patrick Lumumba, the manager of a local bar where Amanda worked.
She had texted Patrick shortly before the murder, saying ‘Ci vediamo piu tardi’ (See you later).
In the police station, the cops felt they were on to something and Amanda was called back in.
In her book Waiting to be Heard, she says: ‘At 1.45am they gave me a piece of paper written in Italian and told me to sign it…
‘I met Patrick immediately at the basketball court at Piazza Grimana.. and we went to the house together.
‘I have a hard time remembering those moments but Patrick had sex with Meredith, with whom he was infatuated… I remember confusedly that he killed her.’
‘As soon as I signed it, they whooped and high-fived each other.’
But it was all nonsense signed, Amanda says, under duress.
Patrick has a cast iron alibi – with several witnesses saying he served them in the bar the night of the murder. After two weeks in prison, he was released.
Amanda Knox (pictured speaking in 2019, file photo) recently wrote an article – titled ‘Patrolling the Trolls: The Sorry State of Reporting Online Abuse’ – recalling when she received death threats in prison
Handheld camera footage from the house at the time also features in the documentary
More than 700 miles away in Germany, police stop a man on a train for fare evasion. He tells them his name is Kevin Wade and they notice five cuts on his hand.
In fact, it was Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast national who was by then wanted in connection with the murder of Meredith Kercher in Italy.
Thanks to the German transport police, Guede is arrested and taken back to Perguia.
He told police that Meredith had invited him in to be ‘intimate’ but that they were disturbed by a burglar who stabbed her and fled the scene. Guede maintains he was merely a witness.
It’s an unconvincing story and, as I say in the documentary, nothing says guilty quite like fleeing to another country and changing your name.
His DNA was all over the crime scene from bloody fingerprints and footprints to faeces in the toilet.
But the documentary reveals something even more sinister about the police handling of Guede.
A known burglar, Guede was found five days before Meredith’s murder asleep in a nursery school. He had broken in for reasons unknown.
In his bag, officers found a knife and a computer which had been reported stolen from a lawyers’ office in Perugia.
And yet, police inexplicably let Guede go, leaving him free to kill. He was finally convicted of handling stolen goods and attempted theft.
When he was finally convicted for Meredith’s murder, it was ruled that he had ‘conspired’ with others yet was allowed a separate trial to Knox and Sollecito.
‘There was no reason to separate his case,’ says Raffaele. ‘What I really don’t get is even the prosecution, they didn’t want to question him. He’s the murderer. He’s the one who had the most to say in this case, and they were not interested.’
In September, Knox had a baby girl Eureka Know Robinson with husband, Christopher Robinson, who she married in 2018. Pictured: A pregnant Knox (file photo)
For his part, Raffaele says he is haunted by what happened and still suffers discrimination when finding work.
‘It’s very hard when somebody you care about is lost forever,’ he says – hardly an acknowledgement that will bring the Kercher family much solace. ‘But the truth is that I don’t have anything to do with this murder. So I hope one day they will accept it.’
It is too late for Meredith’s parents, of course. Her father John and mother Arlene both died in 2020.
For her brothers and sister, perhaps, there may one day be peace.
But for now, too many questions remain for us to believe the Italian police when they claim that it is ‘Caso chiuso’ – case closed.
Why, when Guede was found to have broken into a nursery school with a knife, was he freed by police?
Was Guede’s private trial and soft treatment evidence that he was useful to the police in some other way?
It begs the question: could there be more to Guede’s conviction than meets the eye?
Raffaele, for his part, is clearly a strange character who, as a young man, had a keen interest in porn, hash and knives.
Amanda Knox, too, was a complex character. A naïve American girl who, even at the age of 20, was more immature than her peers.
And the investigation conducted by Perugian prosecutor Mignini was scandalously flawed.
But today, after analysing the evidence again as part of this new documentary, I am more sure than ever of Raffaele’s claims of innocence.
As Dan Louw, commissioning editor of Paramount+ says: ‘No one has ever been held fully responsible for Meredith’s tragic murder, and this new series for Paramount Plus brings a completely different perspective to one of the most infamous and misunderstood murder investigations of all time.’
One thing is certain: the bungled, inept police inquiry will go down as one of the most scandalous betrayals of justice.
- Who Murdered Meredith Kercher? is available on Paramount+ from August 25th.