Page last updated at 20:34 GMT, Monday, 28 September 2009 21:34 UK

Nickell partner seeks Met answers

Rachel Nickell
Mr Hanscombe's solicitor said he wanted "accountability and answers"

The partner of murdered Rachel Nickell has instructed lawyers in a bid to bring the police to account for failings in the case.

Andre Hanscombe's son, Alex, witnessed the murder and sexual assault of his mother on Wimbledon Common on 15 July, 1992, at the hands of Robert Napper.

Napper was convicted last year, 16 years after Miss Nickell's death.

Colin Stagg spent 13 months in prison on remand after being wrongly charged with the murder.

Law firm Hickman & Rose said: "We are advising on remedies arising from police failures to detain Robert Napper prior to the murder of Rachel Nickell and the subsequent long delay in establishing his responsibility for the murder.

"All possible avenues will be explored for bringing the police to account for their many failings."

Assault confession

Solicitor Kate Maynard said Mr Hanscombe was not motivated by a desire for compensation but wanted "accountability and answers".

Napper, 42, who went on to commit at least four more sex attacks, could have been caught as far back as 1989 when his mother said he had confessed to an assault.

But police could not trace the crime and did not interview him or collect his DNA.

By the time he was charged with Miss Nickell's murder, he was already in Broadmoor secure hospital for the savage killing of Samantha Bissett, 27, and her daughter, Jazmine, four.

He climbed into their basement flat near his home in Plumstead, south east London, and mutilated Miss Bissett and suffocated Jazmine after sexual assaults.

Following his conviction, police said sorry to relatives of Miss Nickell and Samantha and Jazmine Bissett for the missed opportunities to arrest Napper which could have saved their lives.

They also publicly apologised to Mr Stagg, 45, who became the chief suspect in Miss Nickell's murder and was charged following a flawed "honey-trap" laid by police.

The case was thrown out in September 1994 when police were criticised and last year Mr Stagg was awarded a record £706,000 compensation from the Home Office.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said on Monday they could not comment on the latest development as no complaint had been made.



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