Colin Stagg wins £706,000 payout over Rachel Nickell murder charge

Lawyer says award will help cleared client 'try and rebuild his life'

Colin Stagg, who was cleared 14 years ago of murdering Rachel Nickell, has been awarded £706,000 compensation, his solicitor said today.

Stagg, from Roehampton, west London, was charged with the murder of the part-time model on Wimbledon Common in 1992, but was cleared after a judge threw out the case because police had used a "honey trap" to encourage him to confess.

He spent a year in custody before the judge ruled that key prosecution evidence involving an undercover woman detective was inadmissible. The police aim had been to coax a confession from him, but the judge dismissed it as "deceptive conduct of the grossest kind".

Since being cleared, Stagg claims he has been made a pariah and says he is still widely suspected of Rachel's murder. His solicitor, Alex Tribick, today said the special payment would help his client to "try and rebuild his life".

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said the size of the compensation award had been decided by an independent adjudicator. "Where compensation is approved, the actual amounts payable are decided by the Independent Assessor, Lord Brennan QC, on submission of evidence from the applicant," he said.

Stagg was told last year he was eligible under the discretionary compensation scheme.

Tribick said: "This is an offer that has been made and that offer has been accepted. Naturally Colin is relieved and it will go some way to compensating him for the vilification that he has received at the hands of the public and media for the least 16 years. It will allow him to try and rebuild his life and to have some sort of normal existence."

He said Stagg would always be seen by some people as "the bloke who got away with murder".

"Colin is realistic enough to realise and accept that his name, no matter what happens, will always be synonymous with the tragic events of Rachel Nickell's death," the solicitor said. "Of course what he really wanted was an apology from the Metropolitan police and I think he has accepted that is something he will never get."

The Metropolitan police declined to comment on the case.

Nickell was walking with her two-year-old son on Wimbledon Common when she was stabbed 49 times and sexually assaulted.

Robert Napper, 41, was charged with Nickell's murder in November after a review of the case. He is due to face trial later this year.


Rachel Stevenson and agencies

The GuardianTramp

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