Trailer for new Channel 4 drama Deceit
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Deceit has been airing on Channel 4 and the suspenseful drama is based on a controversial honeytrap operation from the early 90s. Young mother Rachel Nickell was walking through Wimbledon Common with her toddler son when she was brutally attacked. A man was wrongly accused of murder – but what happened to the real killer?
Where is Rachel Nickell’s real killer now?
Rachel Nickell was stabbed to death on Wimbledon Common on July 15, 1992.
A police investigation was launched and detectives were under great pressure from the public to find the killer.
The young mother was with her two-year-old son at the time of her death and he was the only witness.
Police launched a covert operation, code-named Operation Ezdell, after questioning a man called Colin Stagg.
It was decided he fitted the offender profile and an undercover policewoman was assigned to get answers out of him.
However, he was later proved innocent and was acquitted, before the case went cold.
Mr Justice Ognall ruled that police had tried to incriminate Stagg in a deceptive way and he was acquitted in September 1994.
It was not until ten years after the killing that Scotland Yard used a cold case review team to look at potential suspects.
In 2006 they interviewed Robert Napper, an already-convicted murderer, who had been held at a secure institution called Broadmoor.
He had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and Asperger’s and was charged with Nickell’s murder in November 2007.
Napper denied the charges at the start of the trial but later admitted to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
The judge ruled that Napper would be detained at Broadmoor for the foreseeable future because he was a danger to the public.
It is unlikely he will ever be released and so at this present moment, he remains at the facility.
Meanwhile, Stagg, who was found innocent, received a public apology from the Metropolitan Police for the previous prosecution.
Channel 4’s Deceit focuses on the investigation itself, rather than the death of Nickell.
The series goes into detail about how the covert officer felt pressure to prove Stagg guilty.
In the series, she is given the name ‘Lizzie’, but the real-life officer’s name has never been revealed.
She was given lifelong anonymity to ensure her safety and wellbeing following the investigation.
Niamh Algar, who plays Lizzie James in the series, said she did a lot of research into the real-life undercover detective.
She said: “I sat down with real-life detectives and interviewed them as part of my research. I needed to understand what it was like to go undercover, what tools you needed.
“One woman I interviewed explained to me that building a legend was like an actor building a character’s backstory.
“You need to know the person you are playing inside and out and maintain that lie over a period of time, the main difference between undercover and acting is that if I drop a line or break character I just do another take, however in undercover if you slip up you could end up dead.”
Sion Young played Colin Stagg in the TV adaptation, but Napper was not featured as a key character.
The series wanted to explore the inner workings of the investigation as opposed to the killer and what happened to him.
All four episodes of Deceit are available to watch now on ALL4.
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