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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005, 04:59 GMT
Trial highlights casualties of crack
By Chris Summers
BBC News

A 55-year-old man has been jailed for life for the murder of a prostitute whose body he cut up and left in his brother's flat before taking it on a bus and dumping it in a canal. What lay behind the lurid headlines?

Nasra Ismail, who was killed in March 2004, was unrecognisable from the loving mother and wife mourned by her family.

Nasra Ismail
Nasra leaves behind two young children

The 27-year-old, a refugee from war-torn Somalia, was lost to them after she got sucked into a squalid life of prostitution to fund her addiction to crack cocaine.

Her former partner, Gary, attended the Old Bailey trial of her killer, 55-year-old Daniel Archer. He now lives with their two young children in the north of England.

It was a sad, pathetic and horrific case which illustrated the depths to which both the killer and his victim sank while in the grip of crack addiction.

Many vices

Archer was a man who, according to prosecutor Dorian Lovell-Pank QC, was addicted to alcohol, drugs and prostitutes.

In court he looked more like someone's favourite grandad. Bespectacled, soberly dressed and quietly spoken, he appeared free of his narcotic demons.

He paid her 20 for sex - they both smoked crack cocaine and after that he killed her
Dorian Lovell-Pank QC

But in the seven months before he killed Nasra he had slept with 25 prostitutes, three of whom were to suffer violence at his hands.

He would pick up street girls in the King's Cross area and take them back to his brother's flat in Islington, north London.

One night in March 2004 Archer picked up Nasra and they went back to his brother's flat.

Dorian Lovell-Pank QC, prosecuting, said: "He paid her 20 for sex. They both smoked crack cocaine and after that he killed her."

But Archer claimed she had pulled a knife and tried to rob him. He said he received a stab wound in the hand but he retaliated by grabbing a crowbar and clubbing her over the head.

Archer, who claimed self-defence, claimed he spent five hours trying to revive her.

When he was sure she was dead he put her body in a walk-in cupboard at his brother's flat.

Panicking, he hitch-hiked to Nottingham, Leeds and Wakefield and lived rough.

After a while he went to Poole in Dorset where his estranged second wife lived.

Twenty two days after killing Nasra, he returned to the flat to deal with her body.

Daniel Archer
I considered several possibilities but nothing made sense. One of the things I thought of doing was setting fire to the flat
Daniel Archer

Giving evidence, Archer said: "I considered several possibilities but nothing made sense. One of the things I thought of doing was setting fire to the flat.

"It was a ridiculous idea because I could have jeopardised even more people's lives."

He eventually cut up the body with a hacksaw, took the head and limbs in a holdall and dumped it into the Regent's Canal in north London.

Then he went back for the torso which he put into a suitcase and lugged across London on a bus before dumping that in another part of the canal.

A few days later children playing by the canal found the torso when it floated to the surface.

Detectives discovered Archer's brother's name inside the suitcase and from there they traced the killer.

'I am a barbarian'

When police searched his brother's flat they found a wealth of forensic evidence as well as a notebook in Archer's handwriting in which he referred to himself as David Arker.

At his trial he claimed the notes were part of a book and said it was the Arker character who said things such as "I am a barbarian, I rape and pillage and burn".

Police at Regents Canal
Nasra's body was found in the Regent's Canal

Later in the book he wrote: "As a child I was abused by a homosexual pervert masquerading as a babysitter.

"In reality I died on 30 September 1950 in a pool of blood."

30 September 1950 was Archer's date of birth.

This week he was found guilty of Nasra Ismail's murder and jailed for life.

Detective Superintendent Maureen Boyle, who led the police inquiry, praised several women who gave evidence against him and said: "Archer has shown himself to be a violent and manipulative sexual predator who deliberately targeted vulnerable women.

"He targeted women who he believed would be unable to speak out against him."


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