The story of Colin Stagg will run for generations as an example of British Police tunnel vision and the desire to put somebody away for a notorious crime. What the most sickening part of this tale is the refusal of the two main protagonists, profiler Paul Britton and cop Keith Pedder, to stand up and publicly admit they got it wrong. Horribly wrong. What did emerge was that Police found the murder weapon used on Rachel Nickell, a blood stained knife, on Wimbledon Common. The problem was it did not have the fingerprints of Colin Stagg on it. The prints on it belonged to Robert Napper, the actual killer.
The murder of Miss Nickell on Wimbledon Common in 1992, was an horrific event that set off a massive manhunt. One name that came up was that of Stagg, who had been on the Common that day. Stagg, a loner, was thought to have been a "bit of a strange one", the label attached to people who do not fit the stereotype of "a good person". Also, Stagg followed the Wicca religion, which was made into a big thing by the Police and media. What a load of bollocks! Some members of my family follow Wicca to a degree and it is no different from any other religion people follow. You just do not stand in church praying to a cross.....
Now, as Stagg was a loner, and followed a religion frowned upon by mainstream religions, and it also conjures up images of sacrifices, surely Stagg was the killer! And he had been near the scene that day. Clear cut. But as there was no evidence linking him to the crime, it was decided to use a sting to "get the proof". An undercover officer referred to as "Lizzie James" wrote to Stagg, hoping to befriend him. Actually, a neighbour who Stagg got on with, read the letter and told him she thought it was a Police set-up.... But a sexually and socially inexperienced person can make whopping errors of judgement, and say anything to keep the writer interested in them. James started writing explicit letters, so Stagg responded. He did not start this. She did. Then a meeting in a park, full of cops, making any danger to her a joke, led her to talking about the murder and how it excited her why a person could do it. Stagg denied any knowledge of it. Over time, she kept pressing but he kept saying he knew nothing. Eventually, she said that it was over if he did not say he did it. He was being pushed to say "I did it" in return for the possibility of sex. There is a phrase for this; blatant entrapment.
Stagg was arrested by Pedders` team and charged with murder, spending 14 months on remand. However, the train derailed when the Judge, displaying common sense, threw it out, calling it "Entrapment of the most reprehensible kind". The parents of Rachel read a statement saying that the Police were not looking for anybody else. This spelled out that that stupid Judge had let a sick killer go free. Scotland Yard Commander John Shatford has publicly stated that he was astonished at that statement and the clear implications. Stagg suffered years of trial by the media, unaware that Police had fingerprints on the murder weapon. Those of somebody else.
Years later, it emerged that sloppy work by Police had allowed Robert Napper to roam free, and if they had done what they were supposed to have done, Rachel, plus Samantha Bisset and her child would be alive today. Real detective work by DCS Micky Banks led to the arrest of Napper, convinced he was the Chain Gate rapist and the killer of Samantha & her child, and the killer of Rachel. He asked Paul Britton if he thought they were the work of the same person. Britton gave an answer that ultimately was an Oldfield-style error of judgement. Three different assailants. The Nickell team would not have it that the killer had murdered Rachel because they had their man banged up! Britton said that the frenzy of attack on Samantha, in her home, was more than the attack on Rachel, in the open, and therefore, different people. What about the last murder by Jack the Ripper, Mary Kelly, done in a house? A big amnesia attack , eh? I am no psychologist but that was the first thing that I thought of, as a comparison. Surely this man must have heard of these murders way back in 1888! After the debacle of the trial, both sides blamed each other. FBI profiler Robert Ressler said they developed tunnel vision, the profile becoming the evidence. And did not Stagg constantly deny being the killer, even when James was pushing him to say yes, under the threat of leaving him?
Robert Napper was convicted of the murders and Colin Stagg was exonerated, once and for all. I do not know if a number of tabloid newspapers ever apologised for their attacks on him, but Britton and Pedder have kept a thundering silence. If you are wrong then be a fucking man and stand up, and admit your errors. Colin Stagg deserves that.