18/12/2008

Man Admits Rachel Nickell Manslaughter

A 42-year-old man has admitted to killing and sexually assaulting 23-year-old mum Rachel Nickell more than 16 years ago.

The former model was attacked as she walked with her two-year-old son on Wimbledon Common in south-west London on 15 July 1992.

Robert Napper, 42, a Broadmoor patient, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility of Rachel at the Old Bailey.

He was sentenced to a hospital order for the rest of his life.

Members of the public discovered Ms Nickell's body on the Common. She had been the victim of a violent sexual assault and received 49 stab wounds. Her young son was found crying next to her.

Mr Justice Griffiths Williams told Napper he was "on any view a very dangerous man".

He added: "You still present a very high risk of sexual homicide which can only be managed in a high security hospital. You must be returned immediately to Broadmoor."

Napper was already a patient in the psychiatric hospital having pleaded on grounds of diminished responsibility to the manslaughter of Samantha Bisset, 28, and her four-year-old daughter Jazmine Bisset in November 1993.

Napper was also convicted of one rape and two attempted rapes which happened in 1992. These sexual assault offences formed part of Operation Ecclestone which was a series of linked sex attacks in south-east London.

The investigation into Rachel's murder was taken on by the Murder Review group in October 2001. His plea ends one of the most high-profile crimes the Metropolitan Police have ever dealt with.

Meanwhile, Scotland Yard have offered a full apology to a man wrongly accused of Rachel's murder. Assistant Commissioner John Yates said "mistakes were made" as Colin Stagg was targeted by detectives pursuing Rachel’s killer.

He said: "In August 1993 he was wrongly accused of Miss Nickell's murder. It is clear he is completely innocent of any involvement in this case and I apologise to him for the mistakes that were made in the early 1990s.

"We also recognise the huge and lasting impact this had on his life and, on behalf of the Metropolitan Police, I have today sent him a full written apology."

Stagg, who spent 13 months in custody, was this year awarded £706,000 compensation from the Home Office, which he described as "like winning the lottery".

(JM)

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