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Laurence Inman’s Blog



Robert Napper’s conviction for the murder of Rachel Nickell finally forced the police to apologise for their hounding of innocent misfit Colin Stagg. But Laurence Inman wonders about the profiler whose “evidence” out the finger of suspicion on Stagg in the first place.

Apart from the fact that he missed, the most annoying thing about Muntazar al-Zaidi’s attempt to dent George Bush’s head with his size tens was the soon-to-be ex-president’s disgusting smirk of self-satisfaction as it landed harmlessly behind him. You know the one. It’s his I’m always right face. The face you’d like to cheese-grate off his head. And then sprinkle with caustic soda granules.

Happily, on January 20th he will shuffle back to the oblivion he should never have been allowed to leave.

But it seems that no sooner does one hateful, self-important jerk leave the stage than another one hoves into view.

This week the prize goes to Paul Britton, the forensic psychologist and ‘profiler’ who, with the aid of glory-hunting detectives in the Met, tried to stitch up Colin Stagg for the murder of Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common in 1992.

He it was who cleverly worked out that the murderer, who stabbed Ms Nickell 49 times, ‘had violent tendencies.’ He was probably ‘a loner who lived nearby.’ Well, you can’t imagine him getting on a bus hosed in blood and then trying to explain it all to the wife when he got home, can you ?

They lighted on Stagg. There was no material evidence to support their decision. There was some very slight circumstantial stuff (he had been seen behaving a bit oddly on the common once) and bits of gossip (someone’s mate had told someone’s brother that he was a bit weird.)

But absolutely nothing that could stand a chance in court.

So the plod, like a gang of school frustrated bullies, set out to build a case against him, almost in revenge for his not being an easier target.

They got a WPC to befriend him, go out with him and tell him she really liked violent men. In the end she promised him sex if only he would say he’d done the murder on the common.

Now, I’m going to be very honest here; I’m not sure what limits I would set, (if I were a lonely man in my twenties, hearing such a proposition, and thinking it would never go beyond the two of us,) to what I might agree with, if I thought it would bring the transaction to a satisfactory close.

But Colin Stagg said, ‘I’m terribly sorry, but I haven’t.’

Nevertheless, the whole bunch, including the DPP, Barbara Mills, went ahead with the case. It would have shamed a ten-year-old.

Imagine their disappointment when the judge threw the case out!

But it didn’t matter; they just went outside and with stony faces declared ‘they weren’t looking for anyone else.’ The gutter press went along with it for years. The judge was presented as a soft leftie who had been hoodwinked by a technicality.

The real murderer, Robert Napper, went on to kill another woman, and her four-year-old daughter, and may have committed many rapes.

Don’t expect any coppers, lawyers or ‘profilers’ to be charged with conspiracy to destroy an innocent man’s life. But there is something they can do. They can ensure that every fresh-faced police cadet spends a whole week every term studying this case and its implications. Or two weeks.

And I wouldn’t want to throw a shoe at Paul Britton. Better to pelt him with every scrap and drop of over-cooked cabbage, warm cocoa, runny porridge and gristle pie which Colin Stagg would have had to consume in prison if he had been convicted.



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