Police Admit Errors In Stopping Wimbledon Common Killer

Met Police regrets over Rachel Nickell's death

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Police have said they could have done more to prevent serial rapist Robert Napper killing Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common in July 1992.

A report by the The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has found Napper, aged 42, was identified as a threat to women in the mid-1980s.

Two years ago he admitted killing Ms Nickell, aged 23, and in 2003 also killed Samantha Bissett and her four-year-old daughter Jazmine at their home in Plumstead. He was then jailed indefinitely under the Mental Health Act.

The IPCC investigation followed a complaint by Ms Nickell's partner Andre Hanscombe. Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick will now be writing to Mr Hanscombe and her son Alex to reiterate how sorry the service was for mistakes that were made during the investigation and in police contact with Napper.

The IPCC said it had received fresh information from an ex-police officer that Napper had come to the attention of a police sergeant as a "serious threat to women" in the mid-1980s.

Another person said he contacted police two months after Ms Nickell's death to say he had overhead a conversation in a pub between Napper and a friend in which they were laughing about the killing. 

A record on a police intelligence system in 2002 also said Napper confessed to killing Ms Nickell while he was detained in Broadmoor in 1997 or 1998.

Colin Stagg was cleared of her murder by the Old Bailey in 1994, after spending 13 months on remand. He was subsequently awarded £706,000 in compensation from the Home Office in 2008 for wrongful arrest.

A statement released by the Metropolitan Police today said: "A private apology was made to Mr Hanscombe in 2008 by Assistant Commissioner John Yates and the MPS has no hesitation in repeating that apology today. AC Dick has also offered to meet Mr Hanscombe again for a face-to-face meeting.

"The MPS has accepted that more could, and should have been done, and had more been done we could have been in a better position to have prevented very serious attacks by Napper.

"We have made it clear to other victims and the family and friends of those who Napper attacked that we deeply regret the fact he was able to carry out these dreadful acts."

June 3, 2010