Page last updated at 15:41 GMT, Thursday, 18 December 2008

Reaction to the Nickell admission

Rachel Nickell
Rachel Nickell was murdered in front of her young son in 1992
Sixteen years after her murder on Wimbledon Common, Rachel Nickell's killer has finally been convicted.

Robert Knapper will now be held in Broadmoor high security hospital indefinitely.

Ms Nickell's family and the police were among a number of people who gave their reaction to the verdict.

So too was Colin Stagg, the man originally - and wrongly - put on trial for her murder.


Rachel's father Andrew Nickell spoke outside the Old Bailey, alongside his wife Monica: "Mr Napper has been found guilty of Rachel's murder. That means in total he has murdered two women, one child, raped at least one woman and attempted to rape two others.

It is quite impossible to imagine the grief and the pain they have experienced
John Yates, Met Police assistant commissioner

"We sincerely hope that whatever the court says, he will spend the rest of his life in a totally secure environment to protect all other people.

"A long time ago we came to terms with Rachel's death. Our lives have changed forever, but we've learnt to accommodate the changes.

"We now hope to draw a line and move forward into the new year."

Mr Nickell also defended the police investigation: "It's easy with the benefit of hindsight to say mistakes were made, but we never felt at any time that the officers and staff involved in the investigation gave less than their very best.

"We would be pleased to call many of them our friends.

"We are also most grateful for the brilliant work of the Forensic Science Alliance in developing a way to detect the vital DNA which trapped Mr Napper."


Colin Stagg stood trial for Ms Nickell's murder, but the case was thrown out.

The Met's Assistant Commissioner John Yates said sorry to him: "It is a matter of regret that the rules governing criminal trials have, throughout the past seven years, prevented us from publicly acknowledging that mistakes were made in how this case was dealt with in the early 1990s.

There are still members of the public... who think I'm still under suspicion
Colin Stagg

"I acknowledge these mistakes and need to, and must, set the record straight in regard to Colin Stagg.

"It is clear he is completely innocent of any involvement in this case and I today apologise to him for the mistakes that were made in the early 1990s.

"We also recognise the huge and lasting impact this had on his life and, on behalf of the Metropolitan Police, I have today sent him a full written apology."

Mr Yates also admitted police could have done more to catch Napper and prevent further crimes, in particular the murders of Samantha and Jazmine Bissett.

"We do say, however, that the way murder is investigated now has changed significantly from 16 years ago," he added.

Turning to Rachel Nickell's family, Mr Yates said: "At last we can finally say that we have achieved justice for Rachel Nickell and her family.

"It is quite impossible to imagine the grief and the pain they have experienced over the past 16 years.

"This will always remain with them, but it is to be hoped knowing her killer is finally behind bars will bring them some degree of comfort."


"I couldn't actually believe it was him [Napper] at first. But when I was told by a journalist that they had the DNA evidence to prove he was there I thought, 'At last, finally they got him'.

"[It was] something I didn't think would happen in my lifetime.

"I envisaged some time in the future, when I'm long dead and buried, that TV dramas would go over this case and they'd still be pointing the finger at me, saying, 'The secret has gone with him to his grave,' and up there from heaven, I was shouting down, 'I didn't do it.'"

Mr Stagg said he was angry at the tabloid newspapers' reaction to Napper's arrest.

"[When they] actually found the killer of Rachel Nickell it was almost hushed up. 'Oh a man has been questioned and onto the next bit of news.'

"I feel that they could have made a bigger thing about it because there are still members of the public... who think I'm still under suspicion."


Mr Stagg's solicitor Alex Tribick said his client was "very please indeed" with the apology from the Metropolitan Police.

"I think so far as Colin is concerned the only sadness about it, other than the tragedy that has befallen the Nickell family, is that it has taken 16 years to arrive, but as Colin said, better late than never."

Mr Tribick said nothing could ever compensate Mr Stagg "for the pain and suffering he has experienced having been pilloried by the media and the public at large for 16 years".

But he added: "He is magnanimous enough to say that as long as they've got the right man this time then all is good and well.

"He's very much of the view that any improvements in DNA testing can only be a good thing in seeking to prevent the sort of miscarriages of justice which he was so devastatingly connected with."


"We are thankful that after so long Rachel Nickell's family and friends have seen her killer brought to justice.

"At the same time we now consider it right to make a public statement about the prosecution of Mr Colin Stagg some 15 years ago.

"As the court has heard, we accept that Mr Stagg was wholly innocent of the murder of Rachel Nickell.

"I have today written to Mr Stagg expressing our regret that a prosecution was brought against him in 1993 for an offence which as we now know, and we have publicly stated in court, he did not commit."


Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz said there were questions to answer about how police handled the case.

"It's quite right that the police themselves are reviewing these procedures," he said.

"We need to make sure whatever the technology involved that this kind of thing never happens again, so an internal review is extremely necessary.

"Once that's completed we'll see what further steps need to be taken."

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