Next Episode of Robbie Coltrane's Critical Evidence is
When there's a murder with no suspect, no leads and perhaps not even a body, that's when investigators face their toughest test. Evidence must be gathered. Evidence must be analysed. But evidence is worthless if it can't be pinned to a suspect... Most murder victims knew the person that killed them. That's why homicide, in many cases, is a straightforward crime to solve. Yet 20% of UK homicides are classified as "circumstances unknown".In this series, Robbie Coltrane reveals eight of the hardest, most complex and baffling murder cases ever to be investigated by British police. The focus of each programme is the trail of evidence: how it was discovered, what it meant and how it became critical to crack the case. With interviews from the lead investigators and forensic specialists, many speaking for the first time, Robbie reveals the astonishing twists and turns of often stranger-than-fiction cases. It is a record of the detectives' art: using skill and determination to solve seemingly unsolvable cases – because the only difference between success and failure is critical evidence
In March 1984 Hilda Murrell, a 78-year-old distinguished rose-grower, was found dead in woodland near her home town of Shrewsbury. Despite one of the biggest-ever British police investigations, detectives failed to find her killer and conspiracy theories muddied the waters still further. Police worked quietly and doggedly at their investigation, but it would take a cold case review 19 years later to finally reveal the suspect and tie him to the critical evidence.
This case is a perfect example of how modern technology helped crack a cold case. Through police video and crime scene photographs we piece together the most crucial pieces of evidence. We've filmed with the only detective that was part of the case in 1984 and then carried out the actual arrest of Andrew George in 2003, who had been a 16 year old petty thief when he murdered Hilda Murrell, and thought he had got away with it.
On 12th May 2014 a human torso was discovered in a suitcase during routine maintenance work on a Birmingham canal. With no useable DNA and no other body parts, the case initially seemed impossible to crack. As investigations continued, the police got a breakthrough thanks to an environmental scientist and forensic hydrologist. By analysing flow patterns in the canal, she was able to pinpoint where the suitcase had first entered the water, and where other body parts might be found.
After the identification of the body as Michael Spalding, other important evidence led police to investigate his former landlord. A search of his home prompted a forensic first: the use of 3-D imaging to establish that hidden within a lump of charcoal was a piece of human bone. Simon was convicted and jailed for life in April 2015. This is the first time the case has been featured on television.
In mid-November 1993, Derek Severs and his wife Eileen disappeared without a word. Their neighbours and friends soon became concerned and contacted the police. After a week, police visited the bungalow in which the couple resided, only to find the previously tidy house was now messy, with the kitchen and bathroom carpets removed and a car covered in mud. When police spoke to their son, Roger, he insisted that his parents were simply on holiday. However there was no evidence of this apparent trip, and Roger was soon arrested on suspicion of murder.
They had a suspect – but no bodies and no conclusive proof a murder had taken place. Roger Severs was staying silent, so it was down to the evidence to do the talking.
In the summer of 1993 a serial killer stalked London. The Metropolitan Police investigated a bizarre murder in which a man was found naked on his bed with a dead cat draped over him. He'd been strangled and his flat had been wiped of evidence. It would lead detectives into the secretive world of S&M gay sex and to suspect that this murder was linked to several others. These suspicions were confirmed when they started receiving taunting phone calls from the killer, throwing down the gauntlet to police to catch him.
We will tell the story through the eyes of the Senior Investigating Officers who were there. We hear of the pressures on personal and professional relationships as they move closer to identifying a suspect. And we reveal the key strategy that prompted the suspect himself to provide critical pieces of evidence, finally linking the murders and solving the case. With only the barest of critical evidence to go on, detectives had to play a psychological chess game in the hunt for a multiple murderer.
Robbie Coltrane(Robbie Coltrane)
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