The son of a Nigerian government official was yesterday jailed for life after raping and murdering a £1,800-a-night high-class escort.
Bala Chinda killed Jessica McGraa only a few weeks after he arrived in Scotland to study at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen.
The 37-year-old £200-an-hour sex worker’s partially clothed body was found the following day in the bedroom of a flat she had rented in the city’s Union Terrace.
Extensive police investigations carefully pieced together the call girl’s last movements following the grim discovery on February 12, 2016.
CCTV footage showed she had travelled to Chinda’s student accommodation in the city’s King Street with him in a taxi before they returned to her apartment a short time later.
Miss McGraa, also Nigerian, made her last call on her mobile phone a few minutes before surveillance cameras recorded Chinda, 26, walking down the street away from her flat.
Yesterday a jury of eight women and seven men unanimously found Chinda guilty of murdering Miss McGraa in the city centre flat.
They took more than six hours to reach their verdict and also found him guilty of raping the mother of one and stealing her two mobile phones in an attempt to defeat the ends of justice.
Judge Lord Beckett told the jury they had gone about their duties commendably after listening to evidence they may have found ‘very distressing’.
Jailing Chinda, he told the killer he had ended the life of a woman described by friends giving evidence as ‘full of fun’ and who had much left to live for.
Chinda was told he must serve a minimum of 18 years.
The Nigerian, whose father works as the immigration attaché at the Nigerian embassy in Beijing, wept uncontrollably after he was found guilty by the jury.
The court heard that Miss McGraa died of asphyxiation and was probably smothered with a pillow and possibly strangled with her scarf.
The taxi driver taking Chinda and Miss McGraa back to her apartment had heard the two discussing money before she was killed on February 11.
Chinda changed his phone number after her death.
Following the hearing, Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Houston said: ‘This was a challenging case for all involved, using the full resources of Police Scotland to understand what happened to Jessica and trace the person responsible for her murder – a man who went to great lengths to cover his involvement and deceived his victim from the outset.
‘At the heart of this horrific crime was a young mother, daughter and friend whose life was cut tragically short in what must have been terrifying circumstances.’
He added: ‘Throughout Chinda has shown no real remorse for his depraved actions and taken no responsibility for robbing a young boy of his mother. It is hard to imagine how difficult this past year has been for her family and friends and our thoughts are with them today.’
Miss McGraa moved to the UK from Nigeria 11 years ago after meeting an English oil worker, Gareth McGraa, who had been working in a Nigerian complex. They married and had a son but later split.
During the trial the court heard that Miss McGraa’s seven-year-old son lived in London with fellow Nigerian Bimbo Ouiawe, 50, who she had adopted as her mother. She visited her son once a month and took him on luxury holidays.
She was originally from Nigeria and was an orphan but sent money to her two sisters and brothers who lived abroad.
Her double life as an escort was only exposed to her closest friends after her sudden death, with many believing she travelled round the country selling hair extensions.
Instead, she travelled across the country renting city apartments for a few days where she would spend time with her clients.
Her services were advertised online with her contact number so clients could get in touch with her.
She was dating 21-year-old student Peter Dignam, whom she met in Belfast and who was surprised to find out after her death that he had been seeing an escort.
Friends also expressed their shock at discovering the mother was working as a prostitute.
One said: ‘I thought she was a dancer in clubs – I had no idea what was really going on. But it doesn’t change my opinion of her.’
Miss McGraa, who offered the ‘ultimate girlfriend experience’, boasted online of taking regular holidays around the world and promoted her services under the names Ebony Bianca, Kelly West and B Bianca.
According to the Adult Work website, she charged up to £1,800-a-night and took bookings from men, women and couples and was currently ‘on tour’ around the UK.
She described herself as ‘classic, stylish, naughty, horny, sexy’. The site has topless photos of her with her face blurred out.
She wrote: ‘My face is covered to protect myself as I’m ultra-discreet. I have my regular job and a private life. Do be polite when you call me.’
Ms McGraa grew up in Aberdeen and later moved to Manchester before settling in London.
She described her son as the ‘love of my life’ and her Facebook page was full of photographs of the pair together.
In one post, she said: ‘Love me love my son.’ In 2014 she wrote online: ‘None of us will die unfulfilled. We all shall make a formidable impact in this world.’