Page last updated at 16:43 GMT, Wednesday, 13 August 2008 17:43 UK

Stagg wins 700,000 compensation

Colin Stagg says news of the compensation has yet to sink in

The man who was wrongly accused of murdering Rachel Nickell in London in 1992 has won 706,000 in compensation.

Ms Nickell, 23, was stabbed 49 times in a frenzied attack on Wimbledon Common in front of her two-year-old son.

Colin Stagg, 44, who was cleared of the killing in 1994, said: "What pleases me even more than the money is that this is effectively a public apology."

Robert Napper, 41, was charged with the former model's murder in November last year and is awaiting trial.

Mr Stagg's lawyer Alex Tribick said the payout from the Home Office was set by an independent assessor, Lord Brennan.

Mr Stagg, of Roehampton, south-west London, was acquitted of the murder when the judge threw out the case on the grounds police had used a "honey trap" plot to encourage him to confess.

I'm now slowly realising that I have a future after all and that's a great feeling
Colin Stagg

Mr Stagg said the payout was like "winning the lottery" and said he thought his solicitor was joking when he told him the news.

"A lot of wild figures have been bandied about, but what I wanted more than money was for people in the street to realise they got it wrong about me."

Mr Stagg said he would make a few modest purchases, but would not go on a spending spree.

"I would like to buy my council flat where I've lived for over 30 years and I want to put in a new bathroom and kitchen and make a few changes in the garden. And of course make sure I've got food on my table and my bills paid."

He said the stigma of his arrest had compromised his ability to work.

"The best thing is being able to get off the dole - I'm a proud man who has never been afraid of work but nobody in the countless interviews I've attended has wanted to take me on."

Rachel Nickell
Rachel Nickell, a former model, was killed in front of her two-year-old son

Mr Stagg said his new financial reality, and the peace of mind that came with it, was still sinking in and that he might pursue a small business idea.

"I'm now slowly realising that I have a future after all and that's a great feeling."

Mr Tribick said the compensation offer came in a letter from the Office of Criminal Justice Reform following an application for compensation.

Mr Tribick said Lord Brennan had submitted a "carefully considered and reasoned" 70-page document supporting the award.

The case was widely seen as a low point in the recent history of the Metropolitan Police.

Mr Stagg, who lived near the murder scene and who walked his dog on the common, spent 13 months in custody.

He always maintained his innocence and later passed a lie detector test.

Man charged with Nickell murder
28 Nov 07 |  London
Stagg poised for damages payout
10 Jan 07 |  London

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