England

Carl Bridgewater murder case 'should be reopened'

Carl Bridgewater
Image caption Thirteen year old Carl Bridgewater's murder case remains unsolved

"Revelatory" information about the murder of a newspaper boy 40 years ago has emerged, a criminologist claims.

Carl Bridgewater, 13, was killed at Yew Tree Farm, Stourbridge, in 1978 after it is thought he disturbed a burglary.

Prof David Wilson, who has called for the case to be reopened, interviewed Bert Spencer, an initial suspect, for a Channel 4 documentary and found he showed "psychopathic traits".

Mr Spencer denies any involvement in the crime and has never been charged.

He served 15 years in jail for shooting dead 74-year-old Hubert Wilkes at Holloway House Farm in Kingswinford in 1979 and has written a book about the Bridgewater case.

Image copyright ITN Productions/Channel 4
Image caption Bert Spencer has maintained he did not murder Carl Bridgewater

He told the documentary "Interview with a Murderer", which was screened on Sunday, he accepted Wilkes' murder had "eerie similarities" to that of the schoolboy, but said he was was not connected to the teenager's death and refused to be "a scapegoat".

He admitted he "took the life" of Mr Wilkes, adding "I'm fully aware of the awfulness of it".

Mr Spencer, a former ambulance driver, says he was working at a hospital all day when Carl was shot in September 1978.

In the film, Prof Wilson went with Mr Spencer to meet a former secretary who the criminologist said had backed Mr Spencer's "cast-iron alibi". However, in the film, she says she was unsure at what time Mr Spencer took his lunch on the day of the murder.

Image caption Burt Spencer was an initial suspect in the 1978 murder

Prof Wilson told Mr Spencer he believed he "no longer had an alibi".

He said he also scored in the "high range" of a PScan test for psychopathy, raising "serious concerns" about his personality.

"You are someone it registered as a liar who has bent the truth," said Prof Wilson.

The professor, who interviewed Mr Spencer for more than 20 hours, also said he had shown "huge narcissism" and "could switch on and off emotionally".

Mr Spencer's first wife Janet told the programme "deep down" she suspected Mr Spencer of killing Carl, or of some involvement. She said there was "no concrete evidence", but would like Staffordshire Police to reopen the case.

Image caption Prof David Wilson believes the murder case should be reopened

Meanwhile, his daughter told the programme she remembers her father standing by the fire" talking about robberies".

Mr Spencer refuted the claims of both women.

Prof Wilson said the comments provided "enough information to allow us to bring justice to Carl and his family" and called for police to reopen the case.

"A lot of people think I killed Carl Bridgewater but I know I didn't and I can't change their opinion," he told Wilson.

Four men, who became known as the Bridgewater Four, were jailed for Carl's murder in 1979 but their convictions were quashed in 1997 after the Court of Appeal found two Staffordshire police officers had fabricated evidence.

Three of them had spent 18 years in prison, while the fourth man, Patrick Molloy, died in prison in 1981, aged 53.

Following the documentary, Staffordshire Police said the matter was not currently under investigation.

"However, police will review the investigation in light of any new information or evidence being made available," a spokesman said.

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites