December 4, 2007 / 12:41 AM / 12 years ago

Man in court over Rachel Nickell murder

LONDON (Reuters) - A 41-year-old man appeared in court on Tuesday charged with the murder of young mother, Rachel Nickell, on Wimbledon Common 15 years ago.

An undated police handout picture of Rachel Nickell. REUTERS/Police handout/File

Robert Napper, a former warehouseman from Plumstead, southeast London, appeared via video link at Westminster Magistrates Court.

Nickell, a 23-year-old part-time model, was found dead on Wimbledon Common, southwest London, in July 1992.

She had been stabbed 49 times and sexually assaulted as she walked her dog with her two-year-old son Alex, in one of Britain’s most notorious murders.

A passer-by found the boy clinging to his mother’s blood-soaked body.

Napper was charged last week after what newspapers said was a DNA breakthrough. Crown officials believe there is “sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction”.

He was granted technical bail on condition he remains in Broadmoor psychiatric hospital. He will appear the Old Bailey on December 20.

Another man, Colin Stagg, who lived near the Common, was charged with Nickell’s murder in 1993 but there was no firm evidence against him and his trial the following year collapsed because police had resorted to using a “honey trap” to encourage him to confess.

An undercover policewoman contacted Stagg, 44, and attempted to get information from him by feigning a romantic interest in him, pretending she was turned on by violence.

In January this year, the Home Office confirmed that Stagg would receive compensation for wrongful prosecution.

Reporting by Andrew Hough; Editing by Stephen Addison

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