Real Crime

Monday, 7 November 2011, 10:35PM – 11:35PM

Real Crime: The Gameshow Killer: 

The new series of ITV1’s Real Crime strand begins with a documentary about the crimes, capture and prosecution of John William Cooper, who killed four people in his peaceful rural community in the 1980s, but evaded justice for more than 20 years before his conviction last May. 

Presented by Mark Austin, the programme features interviews with Cooper’s son, interviews with victims’ relatives, and the key investigating officers who finally succeeded in convicting Cooper after a 25 year murder investigation. 

Real Crime tells how Pembrokeshire, West Wales, was devastated in the 1980s by four brutal shot gun murders. In 1984 brother and sister Richard and Helen Thomas were robbed and murdered in their home, which was then set on fire. Then in 1989 two holidaymakers – Peter and Gwenda Dixon – were robbed and killed on the coastal path just seven miles away. For twenty years these crimes remained unsolved – casting a long, dark shadow over the community and remaining a source of frustration for Dyfed Powys Police Force, who had a suspect, but no proof. They believed the killer was a local farm labourer – John William Cooper – who was convicted of burglary and robbery in 1998, and had a history of violence, including the abuse of his own son, Andrew. Cooper was a darts player and a gambler and had been filmed for ITV game show, Bullseye, three weeks before the Dixon murders. 

In 2006 Dyfed Powys police launched a cold case review, hoping that advances in forensic science would connect Cooper to the murders, and a horrific sexual attack on teenagers in 1996. After three years of painstaking research and expert forensic analysis, the team had constructed a complex web of forensic evidence that complemented a strong circumstantial case and Cooper was convicted of all the crimes in May 2011 and given a life sentence.

Thursday, 2 September 2010, 9:00PM – 10:00PM on ITV1

PC Yvonne Fletcher – Justice Betrayed? Real Crime with Mark Austin.

On April 17th 1984, Yvonne Fletcher, a young female constable, was murdered as she policed a demonstration outside the Libyan embassy. A gunman opened fire from the building and PC Fletcher was shot in the back and fatally wounded.

Her murder triggered a political and diplomatic storm but no-one has ever been brought to account for her death. Over quarter of a century later, the family and friends of PC Yvonne Fletcher are still asking who killed her and questioning why they can’t be brought to justice.

For the first time, Real Crime pieces together the crucial events leading up to and following the murder of Yvonne Fletcher.

Formerly unseen evidence featured in the programme suggests that there may have been sufficient evidence to mount a prosecution for conspiracy to murder against two Libyans – Mohammed Matouk and Abdulgader Baghdadi. Following eye witness evidence, police diagrams and photographs, the programme outlines their alleged movements on the day of the shooting.

The former British ambassador to Libya, Oliver Miles, describes how he was summoned to a late night meeting in Tripoli with Libyan government officials just over twelve hours before Yvonne Fletcher was shot. He tells the programme:

“They told me that there was a demonstration planned for the following morning outside the Libyan office in London and that I was to get it stopped. I said, ‘You must be joking. You have demonstrations outside my embassy from time to time. The same thing will happen in London.’ They said, ‘You don’t understand, this is different. This is very important. We are giving you a really serious message. You must have it stopped.’”

The documentary also includes incredible eye witness accounts of the shooting. Yvonne Fletcher’s friend and colleague, John Murray, was standing just a few feet away when she was shot. He describes how he cradled her head in the street and then took her in an ambulance to hospital.

John tells the programme:

“I said to Yvonne in that ambulance, ‘Yvonne you’ll be ok and we will get whoever did this.
Don’t worry, we’ll get them.’”

The programme also features some of the Libyans who were protesting in St James Square on the day of the murder. Mohammed Maklouf and Guma el-Gamaty both speak of the moment when the firing began and they ran for cover.

Guma el-Gamaty says: “There were two windows. Lifted up maybe ten twelve inches high or so. And the shots rang out.”

Mohammed Maklouf says: “The first thing I saw was the police woman collapsing.”

As PC Fletcher’s friends and family mourned her death, an armed stand off between the police and the Libyans inside the embassy had started. In theory, the murderer was cornered but any action against the Libyan embassy had to be sanctioned by the government.


With the Prime Minister abroad, the Home Secretary, Leon Britton, was responsible for the crisis. He tells the programme:

“I was conscious of the tremendous responsibility of course. It was probably the greatest single crisis responsibility that I had in my career.”

Lord Britton explains why he refused to bow to public pressure to storm the building, even though many police officers believed Yvonne Fletcher’s killer was inside. He also reveals how he feared for the lives of the eight thousand Britons living in Libya if he sanctioned an attack on the Libyan embassy. Within hours of the shooting in London, the British embassy in Tripoli was also surrounded.

Eleven days after the shooting of Yvonne Fletcher, Britain watched in horror as the Libyans walked out of the embassy and returned home to a hero’s welcome.

Monday, 23 August 2010, 9:00PM – 10:00PM on ITV1

Murder of a Father ��” Garry Newlove – Real Crime with Mark Austin

In August 2007 the nation was shocked by the brutal death of Garry Newlove who was punched and kicked to death in front of his three daughters outside his home in Warrington, Cheshire.

The 47-year-old was attacked when he confronted a drunken gang of yobs who were vandalising his wife’s car and his death sparked a national debate about antisocial behaviour, its extent and its causes.

Now, in an exclusive interview with Mark Austin for Real Crime, his widow, Helen, and the couple’s three daughters have come together to speak in detail about what happened the night Garry was killed. His daughters were the main witnesses and watched their father being beaten to death. They have never spoken before about exactly what they saw, and have said they will never speak about it again.

The officers who investigated Garry’s murder tell Real Crime about the hunt for his killers. They also describe the problems caused by youths drinking in public. And Helen talks about a future without her beloved Garry and her campaign to keep anti-social behaviour at bay and her husband’s memory alive.

Chief constable Peter Fahy talks about the area in Warrington where Garry and Helen lived with their three daughters, Zoe, then 18, Danielle, then 15 and Amy, then 12.

He says: “The problems in Warrington weren’t terribly different from lots of other places in Cheshire…young males, drinking too much and then indulging in anti social behaviour and damage after they’d been drinking.”

Helen speaks to Mark Austin about the street they lived in and reveals that she had spoken to Garry about moving house. Her daughters also say that they didn’t feel safe living in the area.

Helen says: “He [Garry] was sick and tired of weekends having to go to the front door, look out if your car was fine, sick of coming out on a Saturday or Sunday when you are doing your gardens and having bags full of litter, of cans of lager. There was a guy one day who was actually urinating up the fence. It had come to a stage where we said, ‘Look, we really need to get away from here.’”

As Helen and her three daughters describe Garry, they reveal intimate family photographs, including pictures of Helen and Garry’s wedding and pictures of the girls when they were younger, to illustrate the story of a family man who always put his wife and children first. Helen talks about Garry’s earlier battle with stomach cancer and says she always admired him.

She adds: “He carried on working, he never…claimed or anything he still wanted to provide for his family and I truly admired him for that.”

Using reconstructions and in-depth interviews with Helen, Zoe, Danielle and Amy, Real Crime tells the tragic story of the night that started off as a normal Friday at home and ended in Garry’s brutal murder.

Helen recalls the events of the evening, from when she asked Garry to check if her car was being vandalised, and his daughters re-live the moment they watched as a gang of youths kicked and punched their father to death.

Zoe’s then boyfriend, Tom Sherrington, takes Mark to the scene of the crime and explains how the tragedy unfolded.

The family describe the agonising wait at the hospital as Garry lay in a coma, and the heartbreaking moment he died. Helen talks to Mark about the days after Garry’s death and says she functioned in a ‘robotic’ way.

The officer who visited the Newlove’s home describes the scene of devastation he was met with. And DI Geoff Elvey, the senior investigating officer, reveals how the hunt for Garry’s killers took off after a special officer did a stop check on two youths on the night of the murder and noticed that one of them was wearing only one shoe, and the other was wearing none. One of the shoes was discovered near Garry’s body and the pair, Stephen Sorton, 17, and Jordan Cunliffe, 16, were arrested.

The third suspect, Adam Swellings, 19, was known to have been with the others that evening and he was also arrested.

Shockingly, Adam Swellings had been in jail the morning of the attack. He was bailed by the magistrates’ court, against police advice, with the condition that he stayed out of Warrington. Both Stephen Sorton and Jordan Cunliffe were also known to police.

Swellings admitted hitting Garry and a case soon built up against Sorton and Cunliffe. DI Elvey describes how the trio met up on the evening of Garry’s death and started drinking before beginning to attack or threatening to attack people. They eventually ended up outside Garry’s house at 10.30pm where they would carry out their final attack of the night on the defenceless father-of-three.

Real Crime describes the trial of the three youngsters where Helen and her daughters were to be key witnesses. Amy and Danielle gave evidence by video link and Amy reveals how frightened she was of saying the wrong thing. Zoe went into the courtroom to give her evidence. Helen describes feeling physically sick as she saw Swellings, Sorton and Cunliffe laughing and smiling.

DI Elvey says: “They showed no remorse during the court process. I think at times…they treated it more as a bit of a joke, in fairness, within the trial process. Not taking it seriously and at times they were sniggering and I think…occasions they were dropping off to sleep as evidence was being given.”

The programme explains that the jury heard 10 weeks of evidence before being sent to consider their verdict, and it was 10 days before they made their decision. Swellings, Sorton and Cunliffe were all found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Since Garry’s death, Helen has been fighting to tackle anti-social behaviour associated with drinking, to get better victim support and to force better parental responsibility. She and her daughters tell Real Crime that they are determined for some good to come out of Garry’s death and to stop other families from going through what they have been through.

The programme follows Helen on a trip to London for a meeting to discover what the drinks industry can do to help combat binge drinking.

Helen says: “I have no hidden agenda. My agenda is I’ve lost somebody to murder, a violent murder with the youth with alcohol and I am speaking from the heart. I’m not really speaking from a book. I’ve not been brain washed into anything. Basically, I’m a normal woman who woke up one morning as a wife and then went to bed as a widow.

“By doing what I’m doing…Garry will never been forgotten. He was a human being, a normal human being, he’s not a statistic and he will never be a statistic as far as I’m concerned.”

Death of a Father ��” Garry Newlove – Real Crime with Mark Austin is produced and directed by Ruth Gray. The executive producer is Alexander Gardiner.

Monday, 16 August 2010, 9:00PM – 10:00PM on ITV1

Real Crime: Death on Duty

Real Crime: Death on Duty the gripping story of the national and international search for the gang members who shot dead PC Sharon Beshenivsky during a bungled robbery in Bradford, West Yorkshire in November 2005.

PC Beshenivsky’s husband, the officer who was with her when she was shot and the detective who led the investigation speak to Real Crime about the tragic murder and the quest to find her killers, one of whom was hiding in Somalia, and bring them to justice.

Featuring CCTV and police interview footage, Real Crime, presented by Mark Austin, reveals how officers from West Yorkshire’s elite Homicide and Major Enquiry Team tracked down the gang responsible using cutting edge investigative techniques.

An intimate home video shows Sharon with her children as her husband, Paul, recalls the heartbreaking day he and his friends and family were waiting for her to come home from work. It was their daughter Lydia’s fourth birthday and they were having a party. Paul tells the programme that when he saw a police car stop at the top of their driveway, he just thought Sharon was going to tell him she was working late.

Paul describes the earth-shattering moment he discovered his wife had been killed, and how he broke the news to their children. He says: “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, I just didn’t know how to say it. How do you explain to your kids that their mum’s dead?…How do you go on from here?… [We had] future plans…we always wanted to have the country life. We thought it would be a better life, bringing the kids up in country life. It was a dream home, we bought it in the summer and all the plans we had of what we going to do. Sharon was even talking about Lydia having a marquee on the lawn for [Lydia’s, future] wedding and all this sort of thing. It was pre-planned and…then everything fell to pieces.”

Sharon’s colleague, PC Teresa Milburn, describes heading out on patrol with Sharon on the day of the shooting and the moment they received a call to attend a robbery at a nearby travel agency. CCTV footage shows the two officers arriving at the scene and crossing the road to enter the shop.

Teresa tells the programme about the seconds that changed everything as she entered the shop behind Sharon. She says: “I heard a bang and just saw Sharon’s head just fall to the right and then forward and then she just collapsed. I saw an Asian man and then I saw a gun and then I was shot myself.”

Teresa managed to press her panic button on her radio and other officers describe rushing to the travel agency and the devastating scenes they were met with. CCTV footage shows the cameras frantically scouring the area for the gunmen, but they had escaped.

DSI Andy Brennan talks about the investigation to catch three men who had been seen fleeing the scene in a silver four-wheel drive car. Using CCTV and computer software, investigators managed to find images of the car and discovered it had been hired from Heathrow airport.

During the investigation, Teresa was recovering in hospital and, in emotional scenes, reveals the moment she discovered her colleague had died. The programme features footage from an interview Teresa gave to investigating officers to gather all the details from the shooting and to try to catch the killers.

The gunmen were still on the run but, thanks to the CCTV images, their car was found, abandoned, and forensic experts were able to recover DNA evidence from items left inside including cigarette ends and a ribena carton. Using the new evidence, the police were able to identify three suspects who were part of a criminal gang in North London. Forces across the country were put on high alert and soon one of the men, Yusuf Jama, was picked up in the Midlands and charged with murder. DS Mick Ross from West Midlands Police tells the programme of his delight when they realised they had caught one of the suspects.

DSI Brennan reveals how gang leader Muzzaker Shah was the next to be arrested in Newport, South Wales, where, it was suspected, he was about to board a ship to Pakistan. Police footage from his interview shows him refusing to co-operate with the police, but, his fingerprints were found on a laptop bag left inside the travel agents and on a bag full of bullets and he was charged with murder.

Teresa describes attending the court case where both men were sentenced to life in prison. She describes how gangleader Shah gestured from the dock. She adds: “I’ll never forget Shah stood there, sentenced to life, minimum of 35 years…so proud of himself for killing someone.”

Although two of the men had been sentenced, Mustaf Jama was still missing and the investigation to find him continued. Real Crime features footage from a police video which shows a key witness under police protection showing officers around a house where he overheard the gang members planning their robbery. The witness was doing handiwork at the house and shows police the rooms the gang members were staying in.

Mark Austin explains that stories had begun to circulate that Jama had fled to his native country of Somalia, one of the most dangerous places on earth. He is believed to have left the country using a woman’s passport and wearing a burka. Intelligence officers in Somalia discovered where he was and set up a road block to capture him. He was then transferred to a flight to Dubai where he was collected by the UK authorities and taken into custody.

DSI Brennan describes waiting on an airport runway for the plane carrying Jama to land so that he could be there and come face to face with him. He says: “The plane arrived and I saw him coming down the steps and I was clear in my own mind that that was him at that point…as I introduced myself…I sensed he probably knew who I was and I could see the colour clearly drain from him as he realised that the game was over. It doesn’t matter where people go we will find them and bring them back to the UK to face justice.”

Mark Austin says: “Sharon’s death had taken detectives from West Yorkshire to the ends of the earth to track down the men responsible. The officers didn’t just do it for British justice, they did it for everyone affected by this cruel crime. Most of all, of course, they did it for their colleague Sharon Beshenivsky.”

Real Crime: Death on Duty is produced and directed by Sarah Hey. The executive producer is Andrew Sheldon.

Thursday, 6 August 2009, 10:35PM – 11:35PM

For six months the largest supermarket in the country and its customers were the targets of a letter bomb campaign, which prompted the biggest, most secretive investigation Dorset police had ever mounted as officers tried to catch the bomber trying to extort millions of pounds from Tesco.

In this programme, the police officers who worked on the case explain the difficulties they faced in tracking down the bomber and the tactics used to prevent him in carrying out his threats.

In September 2000, John Purnell, then Director of Security at Tesco, received a phone call from a Bournemouth newsagent who had discovered a photocopy of a threatening letter addressed to Tesco on the shop photocopier. Signed Sally, the letter demanded the company pay the author using Tesco loyalty cards he wanted the supermarket to give away in every copy of local paper the Daily Echo, which had a circulation of roughly 50,000, to avoid a letter bomb campaign.

Purnell explains: “Sally had provided a pin number that only he would know. What he required was to be able to withdraw a thousand pounds per clubcard.”

On 30 August, the police received a letter identical to the first, but fire damaged.

“One of the considerations was that he or she had tried to destroy the letter that they’d posted,” explains Purnell.

The police made some enquiries and discovered that there had been a fire in a postbox on Bradpole Road in Bournemouth. But on 29 August, Tesco received a third letter saying small bombs were ready to be sent to customers’ homes.

The letter upped the stakes but there was a problem with Sally’s demands for payment.

Purnell says, “A thousand pounds was what he wanted for a single transaction. It’s not possible to get a thousand pounds worth of notes through the ATM machine.”

Fearing Sally would think they were ignoring his threats, police felt they had no choice but to communicate with him to explain the problems with his plan.

Sally had asked that the loyalty cards be placed in copies of the Bournemouth Echo so the police decided to use the newspaper to communicate with him. An undercover policeman placed a secret message in the paper’s classified adverts on 6 September in the hope that it would trick him into responding.

Three weeks after the extortion demand Detective Superintendent Phil James of Dorset Police (now retired) called a meeting with colleagues from all over the UK to assess the risk that Sally posed.

He tells the programme: “There was a knock at the door and I was told by one of my officers that an incendiary device had just gone off. The atmosphere of the meeting changed. Clearly there was a risk and the threat was very real.”

A device had exploded in a house in a Bournemouth suburb. The female occupant had opened a letter which exploded in her face and was taken to hospital with minor injuries.

Warren Melia of the Army Bomb Disposal Squad was called to the scene. “[It was] not a lethal device but it could have set fire to property and obviously endangering the public.”

Police warned the Royal Mail to be on the lookout for suspicious packages and within a couple of hours had received a call from a local sorting office. The bomb squad diffused these packages but seven more menacing letters were sent to customers’ homes.

On 21 September the police held a press conference, issued a wider warning for the public to be vigilant and put the bomb squad on 24 hour standby. For Bournemouth police, this was a big step.

DSI Phil James says, “The only time we ever have the bomb squad stationed in Dorset is when we have a political party conference.”

The police placed two more adverts in the Echo and identified an area of focus in Bournemouth about one mile square.

DSI James was convinced that one location in particular would lead them to the bomber.

“I always thought that we would catch Sally through the postbox at Bradpole Road. He’d used it at the beginning of September. I was convinced that Sally would go back to that post-box again.”
The post-box was put under surveillance.

In mid-October Sally sent another letter to the police threatening to use pipe bombs on Tesco customers if his demands weren’t met. But the letter gave the police a new way to communicate with him; he’d provided them with a three part cipher code. They could now explain to him why the ATM plan wouldn’t work.

DSI James contacted Neal Butterworth, the editor of the Bournemouth Echo, to explain their plan to contact the bomber through coded adverts in the paper masqueraded as MENSA puzzles.
Butterworth says: “I was gobsmacked but absolutely fascinated…The issue for me was I had to explain to an advertising manager why we were putting free adverts in the paper…without giving too much away.”

Within days of placing the advert there was a dramatic breakthrough. Police traced the bomber’s latest letter to the Bradpole Road postbox again and had him captured on camera. Officers received surveillance footage but the quality was poor and it was virtually impossible to view.

By November, Sally’s patience was running out. He sent another letter threatening to plant a pipe bomb and the police began to consider their last ditch strategy, producing the ATM cards.

But the cards couldn’t be produced before the deadline of 12 December that Sally had stipulated. A week before the deadline was due to expire, the police received another letter saying he’d deployed a bomb in someone’s garden.

DSI James says: “He provided a grid reference to show where he’d placed that bomb. Unfortunately that grid reference covered a square kilometre, 19 roads and 515 houses.”

Hundreds of officers flooded the area of Ferndown and commenced an inch by inch search, but fortunately there were no explosions.

On 7 December Sally wrote again. The letter was again traced to the Bradpole Road postbox and this time DSI James knew he had good footage that they should be able to identify him from. But, it being close to Christmas, he wasn’t the only person to use the post-box that day.

“He was one of 38 posters who posted between them 172 letters. So it became a very difficult problem to try and identify which poster was Sally.”

Royal Mail rules prevented the police from opening or delaying any letters but they were able to phone the recipients and find out who the letters had come from. DCI Andy Clowser says: “We were left with a small number [of the 38 posters] we hadn’t been able to identify.”

On 17 February 2001 DC Alan Swanton had a breakthrough. “We noticed one of the people we were trying to identify walking along the service road carrying a plastic petrol can. At that time there was a filling station at the end of the road.”

The petrol station’s CCTV footage showed the poster paying for the petrol with a cheque. The cheque was traced to a 50 year old unemployed man, Robert Edward Dyer.

DSI James says: “We put [Dyer] under surveillance in the hope that maybe he would post a letter, show some interest in Tesco, maybe visit Tesco stores. Unfortunately it didn’t happen.”

The police then made the decision to knock on Dyer’s door. On 19 February officers called at his home and found a demand letter on his computer. While he was being questioned, they also found the coded notes written in his handwriting. On the same day that the last of the bomber’s letters were intercepted by police, CCTV footage showed Dyer posting it 24 hours before his arrest. It exactly matched the letter found on his computer.

DSI James: “He was an individual in desperate need of money and believing that Tesco was the answer to all his problems…We found out that the connection to ‘Sally’ was that he had a dog called Sally.”

In May 2001 Dyer was found guilty of nine cases of Blackmail and one of common assault. He was jailed for 16 years, later reduced to 12 on appeal.

Dyer was released from prison in 2007. To this day no extortion attempt on a British supermarket has ever succeeded.

Thursday, 30 July 2009, 10:35PM – 11:35PM

It was a burglary that went tragically wrong. Three shots were fired in a remote farmhouse in Norfolk. A 16 year old boy was killed, a burglar wounded and a farmer imprisoned. The crime turned an eccentric and reclusive loner, Tony Martin, into the unlikeliest of tabloid heroes.

In Real Crime: A Shot in the Dark, Mark Austin reveals what happened that night and how the repercussions sparked a national debate on self-defence.

With exclusive testimony from Tony Martin, interviews with his family and friends, insights from the professionals involved in the case, and access to police footage, the programme reveals the events that led to Tony Martin’s trial for murder.

In 1979 Tony Martin inherited Bleak House, an isolated farm with over 200 acres of land in the Norfolk Fens, but the building soon fell into a state of disrepair. Journalist Angela Levin tells the programme: “I think Tony doesn’t understand how ordinary people live because he’s so used to his own way of life. He’s lived on his own all his adult life and he can’t see that it’s absolutely appalling. He likes to sleep on the floor, and he sleeps in his clothes, so he wears the same clothes day in day out, sometime for weeks.”

For the first 20 years life in Bleak House passed without much incident, but increasingly the outside world began to encroach on him as he suffered a series of thefts.

In 1994 Tony had a run in with a trespasser on his farm. Tony tells the programme what happened when he confronted him.

“I asked him, ‘Who are you?’ And he wouldn’t tell me. And I said, ‘Right I want you to leave.’ Anyway one thing led to another – got into a hell of an argument. And in the end I fired at the back wheel of his vehicle and off he went.”

As a result of this incident, Tony had his firearms licence revoked.

In 1999 there was a spate of burglaries across the area, and few of the locals had faith in the police to protect them.

Local farmers joined together to form their own special neighbourhood watch scheme called Farmwatch, which was set up by a retired police firearms officer, Tony Bone.

In May 1999 the farm was burgled again. Tony Martin vented his frustration at the next Farmwatch meeting and was overheard saying: “You know the best way to stop them – shoot the bastards.” He also said that if a particular team of burglars returned he would ‘blow their heads off’.

Late in the afternoon of August 20 1999 three men travelled from Newark, some 70 miles away, to burgle Bleak House. They were Darren Bark, aged 32, a professional thief with more than 50 convictions, and Brendan Fearon, aged 29, another convicted criminal with over 30 offences on his record. Both men had robbed Tony Martin’s farm just three months earlier. Joining them for the first time was a 16-year-old boy, Fred Barrass.

As the burglars were breaking into his farm house Tony Martin lay fully clothed, asleep on his bed. An illegal pump action shotgun rested by his side.

He gives the programme his account of events.

“I’d gone to sleep, I think I’d had a swig on a bottle of wine and I was reading Farmers Weekly. And as you do, once you lay down, you go to sleep.

“I knew there were people down there because I heard voices. Anyway, I stood the furthest point behind the bed. I could actually hear my heart beat, you know like one of these Hitchcock thrillers – you get this boom, boom, boom and it’s the adrenalin that’s pushing through you.

“And then I couldn’t hack it any more. I couldn’t stay in that bedroom. But I wasn’t going to go downstairs without protecting myself.

“So I picked up the gun and the rest is history. I went out there and I started going down the staircase. And they put the torch on me and just a natural, very fast reaction, you pull the trigger and that’s it.”

Tony Martin fired into the darkness.

Brendan Fearon had been hit in the groin and side. Bleeding heavily, he staggered into the garden of Tony Martin’s neighbours. They called the police.

Back at the farmhouse Tony Martin took stock of his situation.

“I went upstairs and I sat on the bed, I was tired. And I thought, ‘Shall I go back to sleep?’ And I thought, ‘You can’t do that,’ because I didn’t really know what had happened.

“So anyway I picked the gun up. I wasn’t going to leave that in the house because the type of person that would have come in the house they could easily have come back. They could have still been in the house for all I know. And anyway I worked my way through the house in the dark. Got outside and I found myself a torch.”

According to Tony Martin he had no idea that he had killed someone.

Finally, taking his gun with him he drove to the sanctuary of his elderly mother’s house

Tony Martin says: “Well I had a cup of coffee. I didn’t really want to say anything to her because I didn’t really want to upset her. I mean, my mother was 80 then. Anyway, I decided to leave the gun in the house, because I didn’t like the idea of driving around with a gun. So I went up to Mrs Lilley’s and kipped down there for the night.”

When Brendan Fearon was picked up and taken to hospital he didn’t tell the police that he had been with two accomplices. Not realising that Barrass was dead he was playing for time to ensure they had got away.

But his account was enough for the police to arrest Tony Martin at six am at his friend Helen Lilley’s hotel.

It wasn’t until 17 hours after the shots had been fired that police discovered the body of 16-year old Fred Barrass.

The police now needed to decide whether, in shooting Brendan Fearon and Fred Barrass, Martin had acted with reasonable force in defending his home.

Senior Detective Martin Wright tells the programme: “There was only Tony Martin and Fearon who can truly say what did actually happen.”

The programme shows footage of Fearon returning to Bleak House to give his version of events that night. Detective Martin Wright says: “His broad recollection was that they were in the lounge and there were flashes of light. There was no warning, no warning shot, and no warning shouts. He felt searing pain and they scrambled out of the window. He was quite forthcoming with that and to be totally fair he was also quite forthcoming with the fact that it was a burglary they’d intended to do and they’d come down from the Newark area to do it.”

In examining the crime scene the police wanted to pinpoint exactly where the shots were fired.

Martin Wright says: “The ballistic evidence suggested that the shots were fired from extremely close range, the actual wadding out of the cartridges was actually either in Barrass’s body or his jeans, which indicated that they were fired from within the lounge.”

It was the evidence police needed and Tony Martin was charged with the murder of Fred Barrass, the attempted murder of Brendon Fearon and possession of an illegal hand weapon.

On 19 April 2000, Tony Martin’s trial started at Norwich Crown Court. The crux of the case was what constitutes reasonable force in defending your home. It was a question all the media seized upon. The defence team argued that Tony Martin was a victim of a crime. Scared and alone, he had picked up a gun to protect himself.

The prosecution case was that having been disturbed by the burglars, Tony Martin had lain in wait and shot them at close range with the intention of either killing or seriously injuring them.

Tony Martin believed as the victim of a crime, a jury would be sympathetic towards his actions.

But by a majority of ten to two Tony Martin was convicted of murder and wounding with intent to endanger life.

After a trial in the media spotlight, the verdict came as an enormous relief to the police. But this was to be far from the end of the matter.

Although a jury had found him guilty of murder, in the broader court of public opinion he was being given a far more sympathetic hearing. Many were outraged that a man should be imprisoned for defending his own home.

By 2001 a growing army of supporters had rallied to his defence and preparations began for an appeal.

At the appeal hearing the defence challenged the conviction on three fronts: the ballistic evidence, the significance of conditions at Bleak House and the state of Tony Martin’s mind at the time of the shooting.

First they sought to show that the shot that killed Fred Barrass had not necessarily been fired at close range. At the original trial the prosecution claimed that all three shots were fired at the bottom of the stairs, as this is where the spent cartridges were found.

But David Dyson, a ballistics expert, demonstrated that this was not necessarily the case. He tells the programme: “A shotgun cartridge could have been fired on the stairs but retained within the gun. Mr. Martin may then have moved to the bottom of the stairs and it was at that point that he ejected the shotgun cartridge on the stairs. He then, from that same position fired two more shots.”

But the evidence that was to prove most significant concerned the state of Tony Martin’s mind at the time of the shooting.

Martin Phillips a forensic psychiatrist was brought in by the appeal team to interview Martin. During the interviews Martin described how he had been abused as a child, once by a distant relative and once by a teacher which left him with an abnormal fear of being molested again.

Martin Phillips tells the programme: “In the months before the incident he developed a moderately severe depressive illness due partly to serious problems with his physical health and from a previous burglary which had really set him back and made him feel very unsafe. It was the combination of his personality disorder which made him quite paranoid plus the depressive illness. That intensified his fear about being attacked, burgled and violated in some way.”

It was this evidence that was to prove crucial at the appeal and Tony Martin’s conviction of murder was changed to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. It was a verdict that the police still find hard to take.

Martin Wright tells the programme: “I’m totally satisfied in my own view that the actual actions that he committed on the night were those of murder. By the same token I think there are other elements in terms of Mr. Martin’s personality and demeanor to make representations around diminished responsibility.”

Tony Martin’s sentence was reduced from life, but he still had another twelve months to serve.

But, there were still some that argued Tony Martin was not ready to be released as he was yet to show any remorse for the death of the boy he killed.

Tony Martin tells the programme: “They considered I was a danger to burglars. But actually I’m not a danger to burglars walking down the road – it’s when they come in through the window.”

After three years behind bars for the manslaughter of Fred Barrass, Tony Martin was released from prison.

Since his release Tony Martin continues to farm the land surrounding Bleak House.

Angela Levin reveals: “The house is boarded up with iron, steel window shutters. And nature has taken over. It’s an extraordinarily bizarre place with trees and branches growing through the roof. It looks like something out of a horror movie. You couldn’t actually get in even if you wanted to now.”

The debate over what constitutes a legitimate response in the protection of your home continues.

In the 2008 Criminal Justice Act the government redefined the laws on self-defence to give greater legal protection to those protecting their own property.

Many question whether Tony Martin would be prosecuted if the same events were to happen today.

Tony Martin sums up his feelings about the case: “I’d rather be better known for something else. I’d like to be Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest, or in Scaramouche, or some of those lovely old movies. Something like that.”

Monday, 6 July 2009, 9:00PM – 10:00PM

In March 2003, 17-year-old student Hannah Foster was brutally raped and murdered in a crime that caused shock and revulsion throughout the country. Her killer, Maninder Pal Singh Kohli, immediately fled to India in a desperate attempt to evade the British justice system. Despite living life on the run for 16 months, he was eventually found after Hannah’s parents made the unprecedented move of travelling 4000 miles to appeal directly to the Indian public. Soon after their appeal, Kohli was arrested just minutes from the Nepalese border, where freedom beckoned in a country that has no extradition treaty with the UK. The family and the UK authorities then faced a 3-year battle to bring Hannah’s killer back to Britain to face justice. For the first time, ITV1 tells the definitive story of how one family battled to the bitter end to get justice for their beloved daughter. The programme uses CCTV and archive footage, including Kohli’s startling television confession and emotional words from Hannah’s parent’s and sister, along with brand new interviews from detectives on ‘Operation Springfield’, residents from Kohli’s village in India and the Indian police officers who assisted on the case.

Hannah Foster lived in Southampton with her parents and younger sister. She was a straight-A student who had harboured the dream of one day becoming a doctor.

“She was a perfect student. She’d have gone on to become a brilliant doctor and help lots of people in her life.” Mike Hadwin (Hannah’s Geology Teacher)

On Friday 14th March 2003, Hannah and a friend enjoyed a night out in Southampton. The man who would later abduct Hannah was drinking just 200 yards away.

An Indian national, Maninder Pal Singh Kohli had been in the UK for 8-years after travelling over for an arranged marriage with his British born wife, Shalinder. The couple had two children and Kohli worked for a firm delivering food in the local area. On the surface he appeared to be a normal family man but there was a darker side to his character. Kohli drank heavily, gambled and also used prostitutes.

As the girls night out came to an end, Hannah saw her friend safely onto a bus and then turned to walk home. But she had already been spotted by Kohli. As a very petite girl of just 17, Hannah didn’t stand a chance against heavily built Kohli.

By 5am the next morning she had failed to return home. Hannah’s parents began texting and calling her, desperately worried about their daughter’s safety.

“Whenever Hannah was out late or staying over she would telephone or text her mother. It was totally out of character not to tell her parents where she was.” DS Stephen Mardon (Case officer – Operation Springfield)

When Hannah’s father, Trevor, dialled 999 at 10.30am, the police swung into action and finding her became the top priority for Southampton’s major crime department. There were no leads and house-to-house enquiries threw up no clues. But Hannah’s mobile was still switched on and this would prove crucial to the case. Every time a mobile phone makes or receives a text or call, it transmits a signal to a phone mast which gives its approximate location. Using specialist phone data, the police plotted Hannah’s route and discovered the phone had travelled from Southampton to Portsmouth. Finally two pieces of information confirmed what they feared most. Hannah’s phone had stopped moving and was in Portsmouth. And at 11pm on the night she disappeared she had dialled 999.

During the desperate call she made to the emergency services, Hannah was unable to speak into the phone. The call was put though to an automated service when the operator became concerned the caller had unintentionally dialled the emergency number and it was eventually cut off.

The tape was just 58 seconds long but gave police several key leads. They were able to tell that Hannah was in a large vehicle, most likely a van. And that she was dealing with a male who did not have English as his first language and whose ethnicity was probably Asian. Police could tell the male was in control of the situation and he was heard telling Hannah to keep her head down.

“Hannah being in that terrible situation where she is being kept against her will, she’s either being restrained or hurt in some way she still had the forethought to raise the alarm and that to me is bravery beyond measure.” DS Stephen Mardon

Sadly Hannah’s battered body was soon discovered in Southampton by a passing motorist. She had been raped and murdered. Desperate to find her killer, Hannah’s parents made an emotional appeal for information.

“They told me that when they saw Hannah in the mortuary, they held her hand. And both made a silent promise to Hannah that as long as it would take, they would get justice for her. They would find the man and not rest until they did … behind bars.” Jamie Pyatt (Reporter –The Sun)

Hannah’s body and her clothes contained a wealth of DNA information. And although her coat revealed a full DNA profile for Kohli, he was not on the national database. However, knowing that she had been in a diesel van and using CCTV footage along with the locations of her phone, police were able to narrow down the hunt to seven possible vehicles.

After a nationwide appeal, Kohli’s employer called in and put his name forward. The registration number he gave for Kohli’s van matched one of those the police were chasing. Kohli had been caught at every CCTV location. When they seized the van the found evidence of both Hannah and Kohli’s DNA. The police had identified their man.

When they went to Kohli’s home to arrest him, they found it was completely empty and tracked his wife down at her parent’s house nearly. She explained that Kohli had rushed to India to see his sick mother before she passed away. Four days after killing Hannah he had gone on the run.

Back in the UK Kohli’s wife then made a startling admission. Kohli had returned from the pub and was very upset. He told her that somebody had opened his van up and put a body in it. And that he had driven home with the body in the back of the van.

Southampton’s detectives were now faced with the Herculean task of trying to find one man in a country with a population of 1.2 billion. Frustratingly, at first, they were refused entry into the Punjab. Immediately it was apparent that red tape, bureaucracy and a lack of available local manpower had given Kohli a crucial headstart.

“The thing is in India, this type of murder happens every single day. So when we went there and told them about Hannah, they were concerned and they could understand why we were there but they’ve still got all the investigations they’ve got to do. So she didn’t take priority.” WPC Kim Ghali

The longer Kohli was on the run, the more his confidence grew. He cut his hair, shaved his beard and set up a new life in the West Bengal city of Darjeeling as ‘Mike Dennis’, working for the Red Cross vaccinating local residents. And despite having a wife and two children in Britain he bigamously remarried again.

“He’s almost chameleon like. He’s just started a new life over again. There’s no thoughts of the Fosters back over in England, no thoughts of his wife, no thought or contact with his two sons. He’s just cut that off and he’s just decided to start again. He felt safe, he felt secure, he felt that he’d got away with it.” Jamie Pyatt (Reporter – The Sun)

Kohli almost literally got away with murder but in an unprecedented move Hilary and Trevor Foster then travelled 4000 miles to appeal directly to the Indian people for help. The media interest in the story was huge. Until this point, few people knew about the hunt for Kohli but the appeal from the Fosters hit even the most remote parts of the country.

“I saw his pictures on the television and it was a disguised photo with all the beards and the head scarf. But his eyes looked very familiar to me and I thought, ‘It’s Mike Dennis’. I phoned the helpline.” Roshan Gurung (Kalimpong resident – the villiage where Kohli set up his new life)

Kohli knew his time was up as people were looking for him, everywhere he turned. He took his new wife Bharti and fled in the direction of Nepal. If he could make it across the border he would disappear forever, as the country has no extradition treaty with the UK. The West Bengal police knew they had to act immediately. Kohli was apprehended at a bus station just 30 minutes from the border. He gave a false name but the local officer did not believe the story that he was ‘Mike Dennis’. Sixteen months after raping and murdering Hannah Foster, Maninder Pal Singh Kohli was finally caught.

The story then took an unbelievable turn when he confessed to the crime, live on Indian television.

“He sat down and I started asking him the most obvious questions. And I was really surprised he was actually quite forthcoming. And then he went on to tell me all these details about how he’d followed her and I remember even about the fact of how he strangled her.” Swati Maheshwari (Interviewed Kohli for the New Delhi Television Network)

But despite being in the custody of the Indian Police and admitting his guilt on television, the battle to bring him back to face British Justice would be arduous. Hampshire detectives now had to attempt something never achieved before – to extradite an Indian National to the UK. Kohli tried every trick in the book to delay the extradition.

“He feigned illness and members of his legal team just wouldn’t turn up. So the case was adjourned. It was cold, it was calculating. He knew he had killed but he didn’t want to face up to justice.” Jamie Pyatt (Reporter – The Sun)

Finally, after 100 court hearings over three years and 30 appeals, the High Court judge at Delhi gave the British Police permission to come and get him.

“So in 2007, myself and two colleagues went to New Delhi to bring Kohli back. I recall he made an off-the-cuff comment along the lines of, ‘You win some, you lose some’.” DC Neil Cutting

Four years after running from British Justice, Kohli was at last back in the UK and faced trial in October 2008, at Winchester Crown Court. He was sentenced to life in jail and ordered to serve a minimum of 24 years for the false imprisonment, kidnap, rape and murder of Hannah Foster. Hannah’s parents finally had the justice they deserved.

“I don’t think that their work and participation can be understated. Trevor and Hilary did absolutely everything they could as loving parents for Hannah. From the moment that they woke up on that Saturday morning and realised that their beloved daughter wasn’t in the house. I witnessed it first hand on one visit they made to India, the tireless work campaigning to ensure that everything was being done to make sure that this man came back to the UK to face trial.” DC Neil Cutting

Monday, 29 June 2009, 9:00PM – 10:00PM

Sally Anne Bowman was a beautiful teenage model with the world at her feet. She was brutally stabbed to death and raped just yards from her front door in a quiet suburban street. Her murder sent out shock waves across the UK but even with the huge amount of media coverage police still struggled to catch her killer.

The early evidence pointed to one suspect – but he was the wrong man. Police had the DNA left by the doorstep killer, but without his name, could they catch him before he struck again?

In this programme the police leading the investigation reveal the problems they faced. They tell how a chance incident led to the killer’s capture following months of frustration and Real Crime features actual CCTV footage of the killer’s arrest.

Sally Anne’s parents speak openly about their shock and pain as well as paying tribute to their daughter. Plus, a former flatmate of the killer provides a fascinating account of how he experienced, first hand, his violent nature.

Sally Anne had been on a girls’ night out in Croydon when her boyfriend, Lewis Sproston, picked her up and drove her back to her flat at around 2.30am. The couple bickered in the car outside flat for at least an hour and three quarters until 4.15am when Lewis left and Sally Anne was then set upon and brutally stabbed just 10 yards from her front door.

Detective Superintendent Stuart Cundy, who led the investigation, says “It is still one of the worst crimes that has ever been committed by an individual.”

Detective Inspector Chris LePere says, “We know that Sally Anne was raped, we know that she was bitten. How anybody could want to seriously sexually assault a young lady after they had murdered her with pints of blood surrounding her body and covering her body, it just beggars belief.”

The initial suspicion following her murder fell on those close to Sally Anne, particularly as her boyfriend Lewis Sproston was the last person to see her alive.

Cundy says, “Lewis said, ‘I think I left about half four in the morning.’ Now we already knew at that point in time that Sally had been murdered quarter past, twenty past four in the morning, so immediately that made Lewis the main suspect for Sally’s murder.”

But the killer had left his DNA at the murder scene, and it didn’t match Lewis’s. Sally Anne’s mother says police officers told her that, if the killer had not left his DNA, Lewis would have been doing a life sentence.

She says: “To me that is dreadful. There could have been an innocent person in prison right now. DNA is such an important factor in this case.”

The police learnt that they had a match with the DNA found at Sally’s murder but it was for an undetected offence in Croydon in 2001: a sexual assault at a nearby phone box. The police were now hunting a serial attacker.

A media appeal for information about the killer brought no leads, so the police did something they’d never done before. They launched the largest voluntary DNA screening process ever carried out, and encouraged local men to volunteer to be swabbed.

Le Pere admits : “we never believed that the offender would come and voluntarily give his DNA to us, but it enabled us to eliminate a large swathe of local men and we believed our offender lived locally.”

800 men were swabbed over a two week period but the killer never turned up. Sally Anne’s mother Linda describes how she visited pubs and clubs, warning young women that the killer was still out there: “We were just like doing our part so the police can concentrate on the investigation. It’s all things that need to be done and it just made it a little bit easier and it made us feel useful as well.”

Nine months after her murder, it took a completely unrelated incident to break open the Sally Anne Bowman case. Mark Dixie, a 35 year old chef, was watching an England football game in a pub when he got involved in a minor fight in full view of Police Community Support Officers. He was arrested and, as is standard practice, swabbed for DNA.

Chris Le Pere says, “That was put into the system and then it was cross referenced on the National Database and two weeks later we got the information – bingo we’ve had the hit, we’ve identified your offender as Mark Dixie.”

Sally Anne’s father Paul had told Stuart Cundy he only wanted to be told when the police were sure they’d found the murderer. “I said the three words I want you to say to me when I pick up the telephone on that day is…we’ve got him.”

Police searched where Dixie was staying and made another horrifying discovery: a video tape which suggested he was aroused by the newspaper coverage of Sally Anne’s murder. Mark Dixie was charged with the murder of Sally Anne Bowman later that night.

His trial began on February 4, 2008 at the Old Bailey, but Dixie pleaded not guilty. Stuart Cundy remembers hearing his defence. “He was saying he’d walked into Blenheim Crescent and he’d found what he thought was a drunk girl on the floor, which he decided he would rape and it wasn’t until he was almost finished did he realise she’s dead, somebody has murdered her, and then he walks away and goes back. A ridiculous suggestion.”

A former flatmate of Dixie’s tells the programme about his aggressive, irrational behaviour, witnessed first hand when he asked him to pay his share of the rent: “He picked up a bar stool flung it at me. I moved out of way it hit the wall. It took a big chip out of the wall.”

On hearing Dixie’s guilty verdict, Paul Bowman recalls his feelings: “I can’t say as I’ll ever feel sort of happy, properly happy all the time I draw breath really – but it was one of the better feelings in the last three and a half years it must be said.”

For Sally Anne’s family, the focus is now on coming to terms with life without their daughter. Linda Bowman explains, “Every morning I get up into an empty house and, you know, look at the photos, walk down the stairs and say, ‘Morning, Sal,’ as though she’s still there. And its not I’m going insane, it’s because, you know, I want people to speak about her and I want her name said out loud. But it will affect every generation from now on in our family.”

Monday, 22 June 2009, 9:00PM – 10:00PM

In 1992, young mum Rachel Nickell was murdered on Wimbledon Common in a crime that shocked the nation. Rachel was killed in broad daylight in front of her two year old son, the only witness to what would become one of the country’s most notorious murders.

This is the story of how it took 16 years to convict her killer, after an innocent man wrongly suspected of the crime was persecuted. It took a revolution in DNA technology for the police eventually to bring her real killer, Robert Napper, to justice.

Speaking for the first time since Napper was sentenced, Rachel’s partner Andre Hanscombe reveals how he has dedicated the last 17 years to rebuilding his and his son’s lives and how the toddler who witnessed the violent murder of his mother has grown into a young man.

The documentary features interviews with the police officers who reveal their recollections of the lengthy process to bring Rachel’s killer to justice, and presenter Mark Austin speaks to the criminal profiler involved in the controversy about the Nickell team’s focus on the wrong man.

Real Crime: Rachel Nickell also includes an interview with Colin Stagg, the innocent man officers investigating the case were convinced was the culprit, even after a judge threw out their case against him, which was built on an elaborate, ‘honey trap’ sting police operation.

And criminal experts and a childhood schoolmate provide a chilling insight into the background of Robert Napper, the man who was finally convicted of the murder.

Speaking to presenter Mark Austin, Rachel’s partner Andre admits that he struggled to come to terms with what life would be like for him and Alex without Rachel.

As his young son was the only witness, and with no obvious clues to the killer at the murder scene, Andre and police faced the difficult task of gleaning as much information as they could from the toddler in order to help police catch the killer

He says: “[The police] made it very clear to me right there and then that any information that Alex had would be absolutely crucial to them because they had virtually nothing to go on.”

When a description from Alex started a massive manhunt for Rachel’s killer, detectives working on a series of attacks in South East London which took place around the same time as Rachel’s murder recognised similarities with Rachel’s murder. The victims were invariably women with their children and were attacked while walking along a series of footpaths known as the Green Chain Walk. But the detectives on the Nickell case pursued a different line of enquiry and enlisted the help of criminal profiler Paul Britton.

Along with Britton’s profile, the police had an artist’s impression of the man they believed to have killed Rachel. When this was issued in a police appeal, four people phoned in suggesting the same name – Colin Stagg. Using an attractive undercover policewoman, who built up a relationship with Stagg, the police tried to elicit a confession and gather any incriminating evidence from him.

Paul Britton claims that he wasn’t looking for specific answers from Stagg; “My comment to the Police and the Crown, the QCs and others was that even if your suspect Colin Stagg goes all the way through this and at every step of the way meets every criteria that I have suggested would be present in the killer but not present in someone who isn’t the killer. If every single one of those is met that doesn’t make him a murderer.”

Despite this, the police were convinced that Stagg was Rachel’s murderer and made the decision to arrest him.

Speaking to the programme, Stagg now says “I just felt like I was being set up… there was not one scrap of evidence linking me to this crime or any crime because I hadn’t done anything.”

Stagg was charged with the murder and Rachel’s partner Andre, now living in France, recalls how he felt on hearing the news. “Relief that this was going to come to some kind of conclusion much earlier than many people had led me to believe. Confusion and bewilderment as well, because obviously it’s another whole process to try and absorb.”

While Stagg was awaiting trial at Wandsworth prison, Rachel’s real attacker murdered another young mother, Samantha Bissett and her four year old daughter in their home. Samantha was stabbed to death before being mutilated, while her daughter Jazmine had been sexually assaulted and smothered.

This latest murder meant there were three separate teams within the Metropolitan Police investigating the crimes of the same man: officers working on the Green Chain rapes, Rachel Nickel’s murder, and the murder of Samantha and Jazmine Bissett.

Detective Superintendent Mickey Banks on the Samantha Bissett enquiry wondered if her and her daughter’s killer and the Green Chain rapist might be the same man. He enlisted the help of criminal profiler Paul Britton, who had worked on both the Green Chain rapes and the Rachel Nickel investigation.

Banks linked up with officers on the Rachel Nickell team but says: “There was no way that you could persuade…the person in charge of that enquiry that anybody but Stagg had done their murder. There was a total blank on it. They had other evidence I wasn’t, I wasn’t privy to.….But they, you know, Paul Britton was convinced that Stagg was their murderer.”

The programme focuses on the role of Britton, who was criticised by Mr Justice Ognell for “pulling the strings… This operation was sustained in constant consultation with the psychologist, the police woman was acting under orders and the police in their turn were being guided by the psychologist.”

It features officers working on the Green Chain and Bissett cases claiming that he insisted Stagg was responsible for the Nickell murder and that it was not linked to the other crimes.

But when faced with these claims and criticisms, Britton tells Mark Austin that he always believed there was a link, but was felt compelled to bow to police pressure from senior officers convinced of Stagg’s guilt.

He says: “My view was that of course these are linked. And the view that was given to me was that…if I felt that my experience in these matters… was superior to that of the Metropolitan Police …and I took a view that was contrary to their crime analysts then it would be arrogant of me, and that they simply weren’t linked, it was as simple as that. And I had to accept that.

But Mickey Banks got the breakthrough he needed on Samantha’s murder. The police had been able to recover a fingerprint from Samantha’s flat, and when they checked their system, they found a possible match – Robert Napper. He was charged with murder and the attacks on the Green Chain walk.

Meanwhile Colin Stagg was released in September 1994 after the case against him was thrown out of court. It seemed that the identity of Rachel’s killer would never be known, until in 2004, scientific advances meant that police were able to recover DNA from evidence gathered from Rachel’s body 12 years earlier.

“We compared those components with a list of the profiles from the top 40 suspects and in going through we eliminated 39 of them including Colin Stagg. But the one person that they all matched was Robert Napper,” explains Roy Green from LGC Forensics.

Napper pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He was ordered to be detained indefinitely at Broadmoor top security hospital, where he’s been since 1995.

Napper had a troubled childhood in South East London. Professor Laurence Allison says: “[A] feature that is common in these sort of very violent men is that an early age and certainly pre puberty they’ve been assaulted by someone that’s very close to them. And in Knapper’s case we don’t know who it was but there are some indications that this person was someone that he trusted.”

Colin Stagg received an apology from the Metropolitan police, and has since received £700,000 in compensation.

Andre has dedicated the last 17 years to rebuilding his and his son’s lives and, in an emotional interview, says his son is his greatest achievement.

Monday, 15 June 2009, 9:00PM – 10:00PM

“It was said a lot that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and that used to upset us because we were thinking he wasn’t in the wrong place and it wasn’t the wrong time. Rhys was where he should have been. It was Sean Mercer that shouldn’t have been there.” Melanie Jones, mother of Rhys Jones.

It was a murder that shocked the nation. An 11-year-old boy gunned down as he walked home from football practice. An innocent child caught in the crossfire of open warfare between teenage gangs.

Now in their first television interview since the sentencing of their son’s killer, Melanie and Stephen Jones recount the tragic day Rhys was shot as he passed by the Fir Tree Pub in Croxteth, Liverpool on August 22, 2007 and the months that followed as the police investigation unfolded.

Providing never-before seen home video footage, they pay tribute to their beloved son. “He was still my little boy, he was always giving us hugs and cuddles and he still liked me to tuck him up in bed at night,” remembers Melanie.

Stephen visits Rhys’s old football haunts, including Goodison Park where he meets Everton Football Manager David Moyes. And he describes the pain of attending games without devoted fan Rhys. “Initially, when we came back to Goodison ..err, you’re looking for his hand to hold because there’s a lot of people around you know… when the match finishes, you know, you’d be looking around, looking around for somebody’s hand to hold.”

And they tearfully talk about confronting Sean Mercer and his accomplices in court, and the teens’ behaviour during the trial.

Using CCTV and police footage and interviews with Detective Supt Dave Kelly and the Crown Prosecution Service, the programme examines the difficulties that arose as the police attempted to build a case against Mercer and his gang, The Crocky Crew.

From the beginning, police were tipped off that then sixteen-year-old Sean Mercer was the murderer. It was believed that he was shooting at members of The Crocky Crew’s sworn rivals The Strand Gang. One of the bullets hit Rhys Jones instead.

But police had little forensic evidence from the crime scene, fuzzy CCTV footage and the local community were reluctant to give evidence against the violent gang. As months went by, the police were under pressure from the media to bring charges.

“Yes I felt pressure, of course, I did, I’m a human being,” Kelly recalls. “I’m a professional at all times… cause what was important right from the offset is that we needed to catch the killer, we needed to catch the killer for the family and for the community.

“It was obvious the upset (the parents) were going through and at one stage during that meeting Mel took hold of my hand, looked into my eyes, and then I knew the enormity of the task, I mean their world had been shattered.”

Melanie and Stephen had total confidence in the police investigation but in a bid to break the wall of silence from potential witnesses and the parents of those involved with the crime they made a number of emotional public appeals.

Melanie explains: “I just felt how could any mother look at her own son knowing what he’s done. You know if he won’t hand himself in…she should hand him in you know. You’ve got to come to a point where you think it’s gone too far. I just don’t know how she could look at him.”

Despite the heartfelt appeal, Mercer was helped, not only by his gang, but his mother. Jeanette Mercer lied to the police about the bike he was riding on the night of Rhys’ murder. She would later plead guilty to perverting the course of justice and be sentenced to three years in jail.

But to infilitrate the gang, the police turned to techniques straight out of a James Bond film. A bug was planted in the home of Mercer’s bestfriend, James Yates. The device revealed that immediately after the shooting Mercer had gone to the house of a 15-year-old boy, known for legal reasons as Boy M.

At Boy M’s house, Mercer gathered together his gang and plotted an elaborate cover up. His clothes were burnt and he was washed with petrol to remove any residue from the gun.

But Mercer made the mistake of allowing himself to be seen by Boy M’s mother. She would become a star witness in court – even though she would incriminate her own son.

Sean Mercer was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum tariff of 22 years. His six accomplices were also found guilty and jailed, with the exception of Boy M who was given a supervision order.

Melanie and Stephen Jones, however, remain shocked by the gang members’ behaviour during the trial, when they whooped with delight as they were sent down.

“I just think they’re inhuman,” says Melanie. “I just think that you know they must have seen us on the TV and all the appeals and …the hurt and the pain that we were going through. And they must be detached from their own emotions. Because how anyone could see us go through that and not come forward and then to actually cover up what was going on…you think, ‘What kind of people are you?’ Are they so detached from society that ..they don’t care. They obviously don’t care.”

While Rhys’ parents now try to move on after the trial, the question of what if still plagues the last person to see their son alive – his football coach Steve Geoghegan who offered him a lift home that fateful night.

He says: “I know loads of people have said to me there’s nothing you can do, you couldn’t have changed anything and even Steve himself has said it to me, but I just can’t help but think it, you know… if he would have got in the car.”

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