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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 19 December, 2002, 12:40 GMT
Uncle with a secret obsession
Diary entry
Campbell's diary confirmed his obsession

For years, Stuart Campbell hid his secret from other members of the family.

He was fascinated by teenage girls, and eventually his interest turned to his 15-year-old niece, Danielle.

She had no reason to fear the man she knew only as her uncle, a trusted member of the family.

But in reality he was a sexual predator, prepared to betray that trust and take her life.

I am determined to find Danielle's body

Steve Reynolds
Essex POlice
"He developed a relationship with Danielle that was certainly inappropriate and probably unlawful," says Detective Superintendent Peter Coltman.

"She apparently tried to disengage herself, but he resisted."

Danielle was last seen near her home in East Tilbury, on her way to catch the bus she took to school.


She was seen with a man who drove a blue van. Stuart Campbell, a builder, had just such a vehicle and quickly became the focus of police attention.

At that stage, however, there was nothing else to connect him with Danielle's disappearance.

Stuart Campbell
Stuart Campbell was a man with a secret

Detectives faced a dilemma. They could arrest the builder and bring him in for questioning. Or they could wait and watch, in the hope he would lead them to Danielle.

"In the context of a belief that Danielle was still alive, and being held against her will, this was an extremely difficult decision," recalls Mr Coltman.

"Would such action locate Danielle, or could it put her life in danger?"

White stockings

He decided to arrest Campbell, but any hopes that this would result in Danielle being reunited with her parents were quickly dashed.

When they searched his house, detectives found a canvas bag in the loft.

Note from Campbell to Danielle
One of Campbell's notes to Danielle

It contained a pair of white stockings, stained with blood. DNA tests showed a match for both Danielle and Campbell.

There was also a diary detailing his contact with the girl, camera equipment, and material of a paedophile nature.

Even without a body, police were by now in little doubt that they were dealing with a case of abduction and murder.

Danielle's parents, who had been clinging to the hope their daughter was alive, had to face the fact that she had been killed by her uncle.

As the search for Danielle's body continued, detectives were learning more about Campbell's interest in teenage girls.

He used to approach them in the street, posing as a photographer, and invite them into his home.

It emerged after the trial that Campbell was given a 12-month suspended sentence jail term in 1989 after holding a 14-year-old girl at his home and photographing her in a karate suit.

He had originally been charged with abducting the girl and taking indecent pictures of her - that charge was dropped after he admitted to taking a child without lawful authority.

In 1976 he was given a four-year jail term after being convicted of robbing a 16-year-old girl in the street.

Campbell continued to insist he knew nothing of Danielle's disappearance, but his devious nature proved to be his undoing.

Text message

He said that on the morning Danielle disappeared he was miles away at a DIY store in Rayleigh. But his mobile phone showed this to be a lie.

Police search team
Essex Police searched in vain for Danielle's body
He then claimed that Danielle had sent him a text message after she disappeared, saying she was in trouble at home. The message read:

"HI STU THANKZ 4 BEIN SO NICE UR THE BEST UNCLE EVER! TELL MUM I'M SO SORRY LUVYA LOADZ DAN XXX"

But Danielle used to write her messages in lower case letters, and this message was all in capitals.

Detectives were convinced Campbell had sent the text message to himself...and to do that, he must have had Danielle's phone.

The sequence of events that led up to Danielle's death is still a matter of speculation.

There is evidence that she become uneasy about his constant attention, and was trying to keep her distance.

Tragically, she was unable to escape his obsession.

'Grieve properly'

The investigation into the disappearance and murder of Danielle Jones is the biggest operation ever undertaken by Essex Police. It has cost 1.7m.

Danielle Jones
Danielle was 15 when she died
Reluctantly, detectives have now called off the search for her body, but they stress that any new information will lead to the investigation being re-opened.

Behind bars, Stuart Campbell can expect an early visit from Essex Police, trying to provide some comfort for Danielle's parents.

"I will seek to re-interview Campbell," says Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Reynolds, the head of the force's crime division.

"I will appeal to him to co-operate so Tony and Linda Jones can at least have a funeral service for Danielle and grieve properly.

"I am determined to find her body."


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