Nadia and Attfield
Saudi student Nahid Almanea, 31, (left) was stabbed 16 times whilst James Attfield (right) was stabbed over 100 timesEssex Police

A teenager has admitted to two horrific stabbings which left a Saudi student and a man with learning disabilities dead in Essex. The teenager who cannot, at this stage, be named for legal reasons pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of James Attfield, 33, and Nahid Almanea, 31 due to reasons of diminished responsibility.

Mr Attfield was found fighting for his life in Castle Park, Colchester, after he had been stabbed over 100 times early in the morning on 29 March, 2014. He was rushed to hospital, but died that day. Ms Almanea was stabbed 16 times on 17 June that year whilst walking along the Salary Brook Trail towards the University of Essex.

The investigation sparked an 11-month manhunt which saw several innocent parties arrested and released. During a hearing at the Old Bailey on 22 January, the teenager denied two counts of murder and possessing an offensive weapon, but admitted two alternative counts of manslaughter.

Mr Justice Spencer has allowed the prosecution time to consider the pleas of the 17-year-old. A murder trial has already been fixed for 11 April at either in Guildford or central London.

Essex Police said there were "striking similarities" in the shocking killings, but nothing to link the victims. The teenager was arrested after allegedly being found with a lock knife on 26 May last year near to the location of Ms Almanea's killing.

The teenager spoke only to enter his pleas and confirm his name. He was remanded in custody after the hearing.

DCI Morgan Cronin of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said after the hearing: "We hope that today's guilty plea will provide the families of James Attfield and Nahid Almanea with some comfort by finally establishing who carried out their atrocious killings.

"The brutal manner in which they both died sent shockwaves through the community in Colchester and far beyond. At its height more than 100 detectives, uniformed officers, PCSOs and civilian staff were involved in these investigations and the response of Essex Police to keep people safe.

"Detectives worked tirelessly to piece together the evidence of how they died and to establish whether there was any connection between their deaths. Sadly we now know that one person, a 17-year-old boy, was indeed responsible. I would like to thank everyone who played a part in our investigations, and also pay tribute to the people of Colchester who supported us throughout this difficult time."