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January 24, 2014

Claire Tiltman murder: Prosecutors mull charges in notorious English crime

Claire Tiltman murder: Prosecutors mull charges in notorious English crime

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Almost exactly 21 years after 16-year-old Claire “Tilt” Tiltman was stabbed to death near her Kent, England home, Kent Police have passed a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Cquote1.svg We hope to reach a decision as soon as is practicably possible Cquote2.svg

—CPS

The case has been the subject of speculation sadistic killer Robert Napper was responsible, but the file is reported to concern longtime suspect Colin Ash-Smith. Wikinews contacted Kent Police and the CPS but neither were willing to confirm how many suspects were covered by the evidence file.

“We have presented a file of evidence to the CPS for their consideration in relation to the murder of Claire Tiltman,” said Detective Superintendent Rob Vinson of the Kent Police cold case team in a statement provided to Wikinews. “Claire’s murder has been subject to an ongoing investigation by Kent Police who have never given up on justice for Claire.”

The CPS gave Wikinews a statement confirming they are “currently considering a file of evidence submitted by Kent Police in relation to the murder”. The statement added “We hope to reach a decision as soon as is practicably possible.”

Tiltman was stabbed in excess of 40 times in an alleyway in Greenhithe as she took a shortcut to visit a friend. The Dartford Grammar School pupil, who had celebrated her birthday four days before, aspired to be a firefighter and was a familiar face at her local fire station. Her death in 1993 sparked an investigation that amassed over 16,000 documents without success in spite of the fact she was killed between 6:00 and 6:30pm, as commuters returned from work.

Cquote1.svg Claire was 16 years old at the time of her murder with her whole future ahead of her. That evening someone took that future away Cquote2.svg

—Detective Superintendent Rob Vinson, Kent Police cold case detective

On Saturday the Justice for Claire campaign group marked the 21st anniversary of the murder. A band played in nearby Dartford and, including a raffle, the event raised over £3,000 for the group, which includes some of Tiltman’s friends. Wikinews attempted to contact Justice for Claire but their website is unavailable and previous contact details are no longer valid. Last year they organised a candlelit memorial walk to mark the 20th anniversary.

The victim’s parents have both since died. Her mother died of cancer after care at EllenorLions Hospice, one of two beneficiaries of the money raised by Justice for Claire last week. The other was the Fire Fighters Charity. Founding member and friend of Tiltman’s Lisa Gribben said “We want to hold onto the amazing memories we have but also create so many more so they can be remembered in a good way and not for what happened […] The evening is to remember Tilt and her parents for both the amazing friend she was and the wonderful, loving family they all were. […] Its saddens me that our memories are tarnished because of such evil. Hopefully now when someone reads about Tilt they can read about happier times too.”

Claire Tiltman’s hometown of Greenhithe as it appears today.
Image: Clem Rutter.

Vinson told local journalists at the time that officers were “absolutely committed” to catching the killer and “actively investigating this case”. “Claire was 16 years old at the time of her murder with her whole future ahead of her. That evening someone took that future away.”

Colin Ash-Smith is serving multiple life sentences for other attacks on women, including stabbing Charlotte Barnard, 22, in late 1995. The Barnard attack, for which he was convicted of attempted murder two years later, was yards from where Tiltman died. His other crimes include another attempted murder, kidnap, and attempted rape.

His former home in Dartfield, where his parents live, has been searched at least three times by police. The most recent was in September, when forensic officers spent several hours at the building. His father Aubrey received a twelve-month prison term for perverting the course of justice; shortly afterwards his mother was arrested after admitting on TV she asked for a knife to be destroyed during the initial investigation into her son.

Following the latest search of the property Kent Police said “Officers have obtained a large amount of items which will be examined in the coming weeks.” The former milkman’s father says he’s convinced his son did not murder Claire Tiltman.

Robert Napper, meanwhile, has been linked to the crime by criminologists and by former Metropolitan Police constable Vincent Wright. Wright went to an Inspector in 2000 to put forward his case that Napper killed Tiltman and also killed Rachel Nickell in London in 1992. In December 2008 Napper admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility for killing Nickell six months before Tiltman’s death. Like Tiltman, Nickell was stabbed more than 40 times.

Wright began investigating after Napper was convicted in the deaths of mother-and-daughter Samantha and Jazmine Bisset, who were killed ten months after Tiltman’s death. Samantha Bisset was stabbed 60 times. Wright discovered Napper was freshly released from an eight-week prison sentence for weapons offences when Tiltman died and was a known voyeur. In 1995 Napper admitted raping one teenager at knifepoint and attempting to rape another within eight days of each other in 1992. Wright produced a timeline for the inspector in 2000, and has been in touch with Kent Police as well. In 1998 Operation Enigma, a reexamination of cold murders, suggested the Tiltman and Nickell crimes could be down to the same offender.

A modern view of a path on Wimbledon Common. Rachel Nickell was fatally stabbed on the common by Robert Napper in 1992.
Image: Derek Harper.

“Napper could have been stopped,” Wright said after Napper was finally convicted in the Nickell case. “It was down to poor investigatory procedure that he wasn’t.” The Metropolitan Police lured innocent suspect Colin Stagg into a honeytrap and he was charged with murdering Nickell but later cleared when the case collapsed in court.

Professor David Wilson, a Birmingham City University criminologist, wrote in The Daily Star last March he believes Napper “was probably the murderer of 16-year-old Kent schoolgirl Claire Tiltman in January 1993, and of business executive Jean Bradley, 47, in west London two months later.” That month he repeated his theory in his Channel 5 documentary series Killers Behind Bars.

In addition to the “blitz” style of knife assault on Napper’s victims, Wilson hypothesised Tiltman was linked to Napper by Napper’s regular use of public transport. The Tiltman murder scene is twenty minutes by rail from Napper’s former home and her killer is believed to have headed towards a nearby train station.

Dr Laurence Allison, a professor of forensic psychology at Liverpool University, is co-author of a book titled Killer in the Shadows – The Monstrous Crimes of Robert Napper that looks at not just Napper’s convictions but also cold cases he may be connected to. In addition to Tiltman and Bradley, Allison identified Napper as a suspect in the death of Penny Bell, stabbed 50 times in west London. All three victims were to the west of Napper’s home area and all died within five minutes of train stations.

Allison told Wikinews, “we now know Napper was not sufficiently [investigated over] Rachel Nickell after it was established that he murdered Samantha Bissett”, noting “these sorts of murders are so rare that one needs to carefully consider an offender with track record as a plausible and worthy suspect”. However, Allison made clear this does not mean Napper is the only viable suspect: “Napper needs to be looked at [but] I wouldn’t be so bold as to favour one person over another either.”



Sources

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December 20, 2009

Eurostar suspended due to cold weather

Eurostar suspended due to cold weather – Wikinews, the free news source

Eurostar suspended due to cold weather

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

File photo of a Eurostar train at St Pancras Station
Image: Oxyman.

Eurostar trains have been suspended today due to cold weather, and further snowfall is predicted in the United Kingdom, while the rail company attempts to work out what caused a series of electrical flaws on Friday.

On Friday night, more than 2,000 people were trapped in the Channel Tunnel for sixteen hours after the cold weather and condensation caused a number of electrical faults.

Calais port, in the French city where the Channel Tunnel terminates, was also closed yesterday, causing traffic problems on the roads around the English cities of Dover and Folkestone, near the tunnel’s British entrance.

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The Conservative Member of the European Parliament for the south-east of England, Nirj Deva, has called for Eurostar chief executive Richard Brown to resign, saying that it would be the “decent thing” to do in the light of “astonishing incompetence”. Brown has apologised for the incident, and said it was “absolutely unprecedented”, and conceded that “it took too long to get the trains out”.

Kent Police say that there is now very little traffic waiting for a place on the Channel Tunnel, with more than 3,500 vehicles having crossed the English Channel on ferries. Supt. Andy Rabey made a statement on the suspension: “Overnight we’ve been working very hard with our partners to clear the queues and help people get away for Christmas. If you have a crossing booked and haven’t set out yet, check with your operator before leaving home.” A Eurostar spokeswoman issued an apology, in which she said that “it’s not possible” to run services.


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August 2, 2007

Chris Langham found guilty of downloading child pornography

Chris Langham found guilty of downloading child pornography

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

The British actor Chris Langham has been found guilty on 15 counts of downloading child pornography. A jury of four women and seven men took two hours and forty minutes to reach a verdict at Maidstone Crown Court. Judge Philip Statman said that Langham will remain in custody till his sentencing on September 14.

Langham, 58, from Goldford, Kent claimed that he had been studying porn sites, researching for a character called, “Pedro,” for the television series Help. However, co-star Paul Whitehouse claimed he had no knowledge of this research. Langham refused to answer questions about certain images found on his computer.

During his time in court, Langham claimed that he was abused at the age of eight during a holiday to Canada. He also said his brothers and sisters were abused, and that he felt no shame at looking at child pornography. Langham said he pleaded not guilty because he did not want to be labelled a, “Paedophile”.

Langham however was cleared of charges of indecently assaulting an underage girl. The girl claimed that Langham took her virginity at the age of 14, but Judge Statman said, “The Crown accepts that there is no evidence to support these particular counts on the indictment.”

Langham said, in a statement read out by his solicitor, “I am absolutely delighted my name has been cleared of all the charges I have consistently denied. I have been found guilty on charges I have made admission to from the moment of my first arrest. I am grateful to the jury for their careful deliberation and I would also like to thank the press for their restraint in not making the lives of my wife, children and family difficult during this time and I implore them to continue to grant my family the privacy they need. I am afraid I am unable to comment further until sentence on the 14 September.”

Derek Cuff, Deputy Inspector of Kent Police said, “Let us not forget that child abuse images circulating on the internet are real situations involving real children, who are sexually abused for other’s gain and self-gratification. Viewing such images simply perpetuates child abuse. The jury had to view some images that had to be selected carefully – but what they saw and heard in evidence is harrowing and disturbing. I think this itself puts some measure of perspective on the level of child abuse we are dealing with.”

This will affect the filming of the next series of the satirical sitcom The Thick of It, where Langham plays Hugh Abbot MP. The last two special episodes did not star Langham due to his arrest. Writer Armando Iannucci hoped that if Langham was found not guilty, he would be able to appear in his show again.

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June 11, 2007

Woman shot dead by police officer in Kent, England

Woman shot dead by police officer in Kent, England

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Map highlighting Sevenoaks, England.

A woman, reported to be an expert in martial arts, has been shot dead by police in a car park behind M&Co, a women’s clothing shop in Sevenoaks, Kent, England. According to reports, the woman pulled a gun on police who then shot her.

“I can confirm that in the early hours of this morning Kent Police fatally shot a person. This has been referred to the IPCC which has a team of investigators now at the scene,” said a spokesman for the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

A bus station in Sevenoaks was shut down and closed off to the public while police investigated the incident. A tent was placed over the crime scene to ensure that evidence was kept intact.

Regular police officers do not carry guns in the United Kingdom. Special officers are dispatched to scenes with guns only if situations become serious or dangerous.

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