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Deceit: The Chilling True Story Behind The Channel 4 Drama

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Deceit: The Chilling True Story Behind The Channel 4 Drama

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Deceit

Over the last few weeks, we've been gripped to Channel 4's latest four-part drama, Deceit.

The show, starring Niamh Algar, focuses on the case of Rachel Nickell, who was tragically killed on Wimbledon Common in 1992. It delves into the highly controversial police operation that followed, which ultimately, convicted an innocent man of murder.

You can watch the trailer below:

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So what actually happened?

On 15th July 1992, 23-year-old Rachel Nickell was murdered in south-west London while out walking with her two-year-old son, Alexander.

Rachel was stabbed 49 times and sexually assaulted. Her son Alexander was left unharmed. The devastating attack sent shockwaves across the country, sparking a huge media frenzy and manhunt for the killer.

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The police were under immense pressure to find the person responsible for committing the brutal crime and they became increasingly convinced that a local man named Colin Stagg - who often walked his dog on the Common - was responsible.

On 15th July 1992, 23-year-old Rachel Nickell was murdered in south-west London (Credit: Shutterstock)
On 15th July 1992, 23-year-old Rachel Nickell was murdered in south-west London (Credit: Shutterstock)

The police sought the help of psychologist Paul Britton to aid with their investigation. It was at this time that they devised a plan - known as Operation Ezdell - in which a female police officer, known as 'Lizzie James' would go undercover, pretending to be Stagg's girlfriend in the hopes that he would confess to her what had happened.

Lizzie spent months exchanging letters with Stagg - which often detailed violent sexual fantasies - as well as meeting him in person, but still he did not confess.

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Despite a lack of confession, Stagg was charged with the murder, however, at trial, the operation was deemed as “deceptive conduct of the grossest kind”, and Stagg was acquitted.

Colin Stagg was initially convicted (Credit: Shutterstock)
Colin Stagg was initially convicted (Credit: Shutterstock)

Meanwhile, in 1993, a year after Rachel's death, another woman was murdered in London. Samantha Bisset and her four-year-old daughter Jazmine were brutally killed at their home by a man named Robert Napper.

Napper was arrested after a fingerprint was recovered from Samantha's flat. He was later convicted in 1995.

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It was unknown at the time, but Napper was also responsible for the murder of Rachel. Fast forward to 2004 and new DNA evidence, that had been unavailable at the time of Rachel's murder, revealed him to be a new suspect in the case.

In 2007, after reopening the investigation, Napper was charged with Rachel’s murder. Although initially pleading not guilty, he admitted to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility a year later.

Napper eventually admitted to killing Rachel (Credit: Shutterstock)
Napper eventually admitted to killing Rachel (Credit: Shutterstock)

Stagg, who had spent many years trying to clear his name, received a police apology over £700,000 in compensation.

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You can watch all episodes of Deceit on All4 now.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: TV And Film, Real Life

Lucy Devine
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