Andre Hanscombe's police complaint is considered by the IPCC

Yesterday afternoon, André Hanscombe submitted a police complaint simultaneously to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA)[1]. Today, André is pleased to be informed that the IPCC has already begun “scoping the case” and considering their mode of investigation[2].

On 18 December 2008, Robert Napper pleaded guilty to killing Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common on 15 July 1992. His conviction confirmed and crystallised a catalogue of grave failings by officers of the MPS, and civilians who worked with them, in three criminal investigations of offences which are now known to have all been committed by Robert Napper:

1. The Green Chain rapes (Operation Eccleston)
2. The murder of Rachel Nickell
3. The murder of Samantha and Jazmine Bisset

On Robert Napper’s conviction, Assistant Commissioner John Yates admitted that but for the failings of the MPS investigations, Rachel’s murder and other very serious attacks by Robert Napper could have been prevented[3]:

“We also acknowledge there are other cases where more could and should have been done. Had more been done, we wouldhave been in a position to have prevented this and other very serious attacks by Napper. I particularly here refer to the dreadful murders of Samantha and Jazmine Bisset in November 1993.”

As far as André Hanscombe is aware, there has been no investigation of the MPS’s failings and mistakes in these cases, and no officers have been disciplined. Certainly he has not been offered any answers, explanation or apology. The MPS apology, following Napper’s conviction, was addressed purely to Colin Stagg.

In making the complaint to the IPCC and MPA, André Hanscombe seeks the following:-

1. Acknowledgment of (and explanation for) the serious failures of the MPS in the three investigations[4].
2. To bring officers to account for those failings, including disciplinary proceedings where appropriate.
3. To ensure that lessons are learned, so that other families will not suffer as his family (and many others) have done from such grave police failures.

André Hanscombe said the following on submitting his complaint:-

“When Robert Napper was convicted of killing Rachel, although the intolerable waiting had come to an end, the glaring question why the investigation had taken so long and had been handled so badly remained largely unanswered. To have found out as I did in December 2008 that Rachel’s death may have 
been prevented, initially left me numb. Now that I have had time to come to terms with it, I feel determined to bring all of the issues and events and mistakes out into the light. 

My hope is that the police complaint is acted on promptly and  that everything is done, with transparency and rigour, to account for what went wrong and make sure that a similar  chain of circumstances is never allowed to develop again. I feel that it is my duty to all those touched by the flawed investigations, and to the public in general, to seek this justice.”

His solicitor, Kate Maynard, said the following:-

“On Robert Napper’s conviction, Assistant Commissioner John Yates called Rachel’s murder ‘a case that shocked the nation  and one that has remained in the public conscience ever since’. Given the gravity of these complaints, the tragic consequences of the failures and the enormous public concern about the matters raised, my client trusts that they will be investigated independently by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and/or the Metropolitan Police Authority.”

For more information please contact:

Kate Maynard, Partner              Telephone: 00 44 (0)7812 974613


NOTES FOR EDITORS
_________________________

[1]The IPCC has jurisdiction over complaints only up to the rank of chief superintendent. The MPA has jurisdiction over complaints made about
more senior officers of the MPS (ACPO ranks). The failures in these investigations involve junior and senior officers.

[2]The options are for an investigation by the police themselves, an investigation by the police supervised by the IPCC, an investigation by the police under the management of the IPCC, or an investigation by the IPCC itself.

André Hanscombe’s complaints include the following:-

The Green Chain rapes

(i) The failure to investigate Robert Napper following his mother’s report to the police in October/November 1989 that he had confessed to carrying out a rape on Plumstead Common.

(ii) Unreasonably restricting and misdirecting the investigation when making policy decisions to eliminate suspects:-

  • Setting height parameters which eliminated Robert Napper as a suspect
  • Eliminating him as a suspect after his name was put forward on two occasions by members of the public in response to the e-fit.
  • Failing to follow up Napper’s failure on two occasions to give a DNA sample.

(iii) The failure to investigate Robert Napper diligently (or at all) as follows:-

  • In 1986, Napper was convicted of having a loaded air weapon in a public place, and received a conditional discharge. It seems that his fingerprints and DNA were not taken and retained, for comparison with future crime scenes.
  • On 27 October 1992, Napper was arrested for trying to make copies of MPS notepaper. His home was searched and a handgun, ammunition, a crossbow bolt, a very large six-inch blade flick knife and a brown wood handled lock knife with brass fittings were seized. One of the Green Chain rape victims had described such a lock knife being used in the attack on her. The stolen gym identity card of a young blonde woman was found inside an A-Z map which was also seized by the police. Her address was ringed on the map, as were the sites of other Green Chain attacks. Robert Napper served a short period on remand and was then sentenced to eight weeks in custody for the firearms offences. Despite this evidence and his previous firearms conviction, Napper was not investigated for the Green Chain rapes or the murder of Rachel Nickell, and no investigation took place of the disturbing items found at his home. Either no fingerprint or DNA samples were taken, or if taken, they were not checked against other scenes of crimes.
  • On 31 July 1993, a Special Constable and WPC found Robert Napper hiding in an alley after he had been reported stalking around a house close to Winn’s Common which was overlooked by woods on the Green Chain Walk. Napper was apprehended, and although he did not give a reasonable explanation for his conduct, he was merely taken home and his conduct not properly investigated.
  • On 20 September 1993, two boys found a biscuit tin found buried on Winn’s Common containing a .22 Mauser handgun and ammunition. The tin had Robert Napper’s fingerprints on it. Despite his history of firearms offences, no action appears to have been taken, nor any investigation conducted.
  •  In January 1994, Robert Napper was convicted of shoplifting. He was taken into police custody and again allowed to leave without any check of his prints or DNA with other scenes of crime, including the Green Chain rapes.

The Bisset murders

(iv) The 6 month delay in arresting Robert Napper for the murder of Samantha and Jazmine Bisset (they were murdered on 4 November 1993 and Napper was arrested on 27 May 1994).

The Rachel Nickell investigation

(vi) Ruling out the suspected perpetrator of the Green Chain rapes and murderer of Samantha and Jazmine Bisset as the murderer of Rachel Nickell (despite the overlap in personnel involved in all three the investigations, and obvious similarities in the method and nature of the escalating attacks).

(vii) Gross errors of judgment and misdirecting the murder investigation, focussing on Colin Stagg (Colin Stagg was suspected of committing all offences subject to the three investigations, yet when Robert Napper had been convicted of the Green Chain rapes and the Bisset murders, Colin Stagg rather than Napper remained the prime suspect for killing Rachel and resources continued to be focused on him).

(viii) The delay in establishing Robert Napper’s liability for Rachel’s murder from 1995 to December 2008.

[5]Hickman & Rose is a niche city firm with a criminal defence team and civil department. The civil team is renowned for its work in seeking public and private law remedies in the UK and other jurisdictions on behalf of victims of crime and other victims of the abuse of power by state agents within the criminal justice system.  Chambers 2010 UK Guide to the Legal Profession describes the civil department as ‘a fantastic team – one of the best’. The combined resources of the civil and criminal teams position the firm uniquely to fight for justice on behalf of their clients.