A pensioner has been found guilty of the manslaughter of a woman killed almost half a century ago.

John Apelgren, 80, was found guilty on Friday (June 16) of killing 22-year-old Eileen Cotter in Highbury in 1974.

Eileen, who lived in north London and was a sex worker, was found strangled in a garage courtyard behind Hamilton Park on June 1, 1974.

Apelgren told police at the time that he was living in Leyton, and never went to the Finsbury Park and Highbury area.

But after a DNA breakthrough, police were able to charge Apelgren with murder and the indecent assault of another woman in 1972.

Islington Gazette: John Apelgren pictured in a police custody image (left) and in 1972 (right)John Apelgren pictured in a police custody image (left) and in 1972 (right) (Image: Metropolitan Police)

Charges were brought against Apelgren after he was arrested in February 2019 for domestic assault.

After admitting this offence, a DNA match was found to samples recovered from Eileen’s body in 1974.

At Apelgren’s trial, the prosecution told the court he had sex with Eileen before killing her and leaving her partially undressed by the garages.

The 80-year-old had previously admitted to having sex with Eileen, but not to killing her.

A jury later found him not guilty of the 22-year-old’s murder, with the jury instead finding him guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter.

The pensioner was also found guilty of the indecent assault of an 18-year-old woman at his own wedding in 1972.

The woman told police about the assault after she was interviewed as part of the investigation into Eileen’s death.

Islington Gazette: Garages where Eileen Cotter's body was foundGarages where Eileen Cotter's body was found (Image: Metropolitan Police)

Detective Chief Inspector Laurence Smith, Specialist Crime, said: “Eileen tragically died at a young age, with her body then discarded on the street.

“When my team reviewed the original investigation, we were impressed by how thorough it was.

“Investigators at the time used every available method to find the suspect, including operations with decoy women.

“This was a tactic used at the time where female police officers under protection were placed at the scenes of crimes in efforts to draw out predatory men.

“Unfortunately, they did not have the science available to us now and although he should have been in prison decades ago, her killer has now been brought to justice.

“Investigating violence against women and girls is a priority for the Met, and we will relentlessly pursue predatory men, whether a crime took place decades ago or today.”

Apelgren is due to be sentenced on June 23.