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New Channel 4 Drama 'My Name is Lizzie' Will Revisit Murder Of Rachel Nickell

New Channel 4 Drama 'My Name is Lizzie' Will Revisit Murder Of Rachel Nickell

A new Channel 4 drama is set to revisit the high-profile 1992 murder of Rachel Nickell.

At the time of her murder, Rachel was a 23-year-old mum-of-one who lived with her partner André Hanscombe and their two-year-old son, Alexander Louis, near Wimbledon Common in London.

On the morning of 15th June 1992, she and her son took their dog for a walk on the Common when she was attacked in a secluded area. The attacker murdered her by stabbing and slashing her over 40 times, before sexually assaulting her.

The assailant fled the scene leaving Alexander physically unharmed, and later the toddler was found by a passer-by tragically clinging to his mother's body repeating the words "Wake up, Mummy".

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A woman who knew Rachel reconstructed her last moments for police in the hopes it would jog someone's memory (Credit: PA)
A woman who knew Rachel reconstructed her last moments for police in the hopes it would jog someone's memory (Credit: PA)

Now, a four-part Channel 4 drama will examine the controversial resulting investigation through the prism of the police's wrongly accused suspect and the young female officer who was sent undercover in a 'honeytrap' operation to catch him.

My Name is Lizzie is said to look at "the complicated and toxic sexual politics of the early '90s and the police's obsession with the wrong man" whereby a female undercover officer, codename 'Lizzie James', was asked to become sexual bait for a suspected killer.

In the five months following Rachel's killing, police were no closer to capturing the the man responsible. At a time when public fear high and all eyes were on the police, a BBC Crimewatch appeal tip-off lead them to Colin Stagg.

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With evidence stacked against him but not enough to charge him, the desperate young Detective Inspector working the case decided to employ landmark tactics.

Colin Stagg was accused of killing Rachel, and detectives initiated an entrapment on him (Credit: PA)
Colin Stagg was accused of killing Rachel, and detectives initiated an entrapment on him (Credit: PA)

Police devised a bold undercover operation which would see an attractive, young female officer start a relationship with Stagg in an attempt to ensnare concrete evidence.

A blonde 39-year-old specialist operations policewoman - whose real identity is still being protected - was drafted in from Scotland Yard's covert operations unit SO10's a bait for the mission.

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"Hugely ambitious, 'Lizzie' has found a way to stand out by becoming one of very few female undercover officers deployed in covert operations... And then she's offered a central role in the biggest murder enquiry the country has ever seen," says Channel 4 of the upcoming drama.

Police searching the area where Rachel was killed in 1992 (Credit: PA)
Police searching the area where Rachel was killed in 1992 (Credit: PA)
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'Lizzie James' first contacted Stagg posing as a friend of a woman with whom he used to be in contact via a lonely hearts' dating column.

Over a series of months, the undercover officer built a friendship with Stagg and feigned romantic interest, gathering evidence in letters exchanged between the pair, a Valentine's Day card, 18 telephone calls and three face-to-face meetings in Hyde Park.

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Winning Stagg's confidence, the officer drew out violent sexual fantasies, but he never admitted to the murder.

When the evidence captured was taken to the Old Bailey, Judge Justice Ognall said the police had used entrapment and said they had attempted to incriminate the suspect by "deceptive conduct of the grossest kind".

The case against Stagg was dropped.

Robert Napper admitted to the killing years later (Credit: PA)
Robert Napper admitted to the killing years later (Credit: PA)
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Years later in 2008, schizophrenic Robert Napper, who was already serving time for murdering a young mother and her four-year-old daughter in 1993, admitted to the frenzied attack on Wimbledon Common.

The undercover female detective took 18-months off work due to stress and PTSD following the operation and later took an early retirement. She was later paid £125,000 in compensation by Scotland Yard.

My Name is Lizzie - which has no release date as of yet - is said to be made with access to previously unheard audio, video and written materials, including scenes of verbatim dialogue as part of a "fictionalised retelling".

This sounds unmissable.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: TV and Film, TV News, Channel 4

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Ciara Sheppard

Ciara is a freelance writer working for Tyla. After graduating with an English Lit and Media degree from the University of Sussex, Ciara held jobs at GLAMOUR and Yahoo Style before packing up for a solo travelling trip around South America.