Page last updated at 16:17 GMT, Friday, 19 December 2008

Judge welcomes Nickell confession


Sir Harry Ognall said police were under enormous pressure to find the killer

The judge in the trial of the man wrongly accused of killing Rachel Nickell said he was "quietly satisfied" by the conviction of the real killer.

On Thursday Robert Napper admitted killing Miss Nickell in 1992.

But Colin Stagg spent 13 months in custody after being wrongly accused in 1994 of her murder.

Mr Stagg's case was thrown out by judge Sir Harry Ognall, who ruled police evidence inadmissible. Sir Harry said he was proved "conclusively right".

Miss Nickell, 23, was stabbed 49 times as she walked on Wimbledon Common, south-west London, with her two-year-old son Alex on 15 July 1992.

There were no other witnesses and police struggled to find evidence to link anyone to the crime.

However local man Mr Stagg, who walked his dog on the common, came under suspicion.

Rachel Nickel
Miss Nickell was stabbed 49 times on Wimbledon Common

His trial in 1994 was halted when Sir Harry condemned an attempt by a female undercover policewoman to catch Mr Stagg in a so-called "honey trap".

The officer, using the alias Lizzie James, had tried and failed - in letters and meetings - to get Mr Stagg to confess.

On Friday Sir Harry said: "I think the use of the honey trap evidence betrayed a clear awareness in the investigating police officers that they simply didn't have a case."

He said police had been under "enormous pressure" to find Miss Nickell's killer.

"The resort to psychological profiling and, in consequence the honey trap evidence, was a token of that real sense of despair," he added.

Sir Harry said he "came in for a great deal of flak" when he halted Mr Stagg's trial.

"There were repeated, insidious, suggestions that Stagg had been exonerated on a technicality - in other words that I had literally let him get away with murder.

"So if I can introduce a personal note, it's a matter of quiet satisfaction to me - in perhaps the only instance, some of my colleagues would say - to be proved conclusively right."

The Met's Assistant Commissioner John Yates apologised to Mr Stagg on Thursday.

Mr Stagg was awarded 706,000 compensation from the Home Office earlier this year.

Print Sponsor

Police rule out Nickell inquiry
19 Dec 08 |  London
Stagg wins 700,000 compensation
13 Aug 08 |  London

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