In his book A CLIMATE OF FEAR (about the notorious Tottenham Three Case), the Observer journalist David Rose enunciated what he called “The Police Infallibility Principle”, which is exactly what it sounds like. If somebody is cleared of a major crime, the courts got it wrong. There was “insufficient evidence” to sustain a conviction, a procedural error, or some other irregularity which meant that a guilty man had walked free. This was the position in which Colin Stagg found himself after Mr Justice Ognall threw out the case against him. Not only was he the victim of a covert police disinformation campaign, one police officer who had worked on the case, Keith Pedder, actually went so far as to publish a book - The Rachel Files - in which he not only whined about the supposed disadvantages under which the police had to work, and how things were always oh so jolly for obviously guilty defendants, but in which he as good as named Stagg as the killer.
While disgruntled police officers could do little more than snipe, some members of the public took matters into their own hands, and this poor, wretched man found himself the victim of a years’ long hate campaign in which his mental state and physical well being were under constant threat. Then out of the blue, the real killer was named.
While pillocks like Pedder were free to peddle their innuendo, others were working quietly behind the scenes until in November 2004 the real killer of Rachel Nickell was named as Robert Napper, a psychopath and serial sex attacker who was at that time detained in Broadmoor. Although it is unlikely Napper will ever be charged with Miss Nickell’s murder due to his mental condition, new DNA techniques put him squarely back in the frame - he was originally a suspect but was cleared when the police decided to concentrate all their resources on the entrapment of the hapless Stagg.
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