The Real Cracker

Four years in the making, this series has exclusive access to two of Britain's most celebrated and flamboyant criminal profilers, Richard Badcock and Julian Boon, as they work with police forces around the country to uncover the psychological clues to some of Britain's most baffling cases.

This documentary series follows two of Britain's most celebrated criminal profilers as they work on five serious crimes with police forces around the country.

"Midsummer Murder" is the first of this compelling and sometimes disturbing series Dr Julian Boon, a forensic psychologist and one of only 20 'profilers' in Britain, examines the case of 87-year-old Jean Barnes, who was found brutally murdered in her own home in Worthing. Boon has been called in to work in conjunction with Det Chief Inspector Steve Scott and his team, to give a more complete picture of the mind and behavioural patterns of the offender who committed this heinous crime.

It was unclear as to exactly what time and date Jean Barnes was killed, which made establishing clear witness accounts and thus potential suspects very difficult, but with astonishing insight, upon a first look at the photographic evidence of the murder itself, Boon creates a chilling picture of the murderer as highly clinical. He is able to ascertain that the murder was not done with sadistic intent, or by a paranoid schizophrenic, but was more likely to be extremely calculated and committed in cold blood. Such analysis directs Scott's team towards a murder motivated most probably by money. And so begins the eliminatory process that draws the team further towards their goal.

After an appeal on Crimewatch, a member of the public prompts Boon and his colleagues to seek information on one David Munley. Apparently, Munley fits Boon's projected profile of the murderer exactly: a middle aged man who lived 400 yds away from Jean Barnes' house, who had lied to his wife, stolen from the elderly before, and had little or no capacity for conscience.

Boon's counsel pre-arrest is equally crucial: he advises Scott to make the arrest very low profile (one police car with no sirens). Scott had planned to delay the arrest from the original planned date, on the basis that it was Munley's birthday, but Boon assured him that Munley would have no sentimental or emotional attachments to any type of anniversary, simply that "he will have one aim and one aim only - that is how not to get caught for it".

Munley behaves as Boon predicted under interrogation - when Scott presents him with conflicting evidence, he clams up "like Blair at question time." By now the team have compiled overwhelming evidence against him; he is arrested and a date is set for trial. In court, Munley forces his lawyers to refute the forensic evidence and maintains his claim of innocence. He is seen to lie repeatedly under oath. Cocky, and laughing out loud, he is, in Boon's words "going for broke. There must be a way that he thinks he'll win".

The jury is out, as they cannot reach a unanimous decision. For Scott, a detective who has devoted a year and a half of his life to this case, it is a tense time. Ultimately, justice prevails and Munley is found guilty of the murder, thanks largely in part to the unprecedented insight that Boon's psychological profiles have allowed.

The second edition - "Friday 13th" focuses on the work of Britain's top criminal profilers features Dr Richard Badcock, a leading forensic psychiatrist, and the gruesome case of the murder of 21-year-old Yvonne Killian. Like a real-life Cracker, Badcock has been called in by Det Chief Inspector Chris Horne to help create a psychological profile of her killer, and tonight The Real Cracker examines not only Badcock's working practices and relations with the investigating team, but also the man behind this rare talent.

Badcock is a vibrant character who feels that his 'regular' NHS work at the notorious Rampton Hospital helps him to understand the offenders he profiles in the police investigations. Sometimes, however, he finds it hard to remain completely removed from this line of work, and none more so than in the tragic case of Yvonne Killian: "At a professional level, [the case] is intriguing, but at a personal level, very sad - it can be soul destroying...When you get into this kind of work, you do occasionally realise the only motivation for this kind of thing is pure evil."

Initially Yvonne's fiancé, Joseph Scudder is arrested as the prime suspect, and released on bail. Badcock is briefed by Horne, and soon a profile of his character and their lives together begins to emerge. Badcock noted that their relationship was not a conventional one, because whilst Joe was gentle, shy and illiterate, Yvonne was attractive, outgoing and successful, ie: "they are not on a par".

With the help of pathologist Dr Richard Shepherd, Badcock helps Horne to understand and put into perspective her injuries. Strangulation with a pair of tights, genital injuries around the time of death and an attempt to burn her body while leaving it in an undignified position point to a highly sexual attack. A Sony Playstation that was stolen from the scene is found dumped in a nearby church yard, but Badcock insists that from a psychological profile, Joe is not a strong suspect: "He doesn't seem to have the needs, the right psychological attitudes or the right degree of subtlety to create a false picture in this way."

Four weeks into the investigation, and massive DNA testing corroborates Badcock's opinion that Joseph Scudder is indeed innocent. Now the team needs to establish whether Yvonne knew her killer, or whether the case was an unfortunate burglary that had gone horrendously wrong. Badcock doesn't seem to think so - he is sure the murder was sexually motivated by someone who lived nearby, and that she allowed the offender in through her front door.

An increasing divergence of opinion between Badcock and Horne and his team has to be thrashed out. Badcock is keen to stress that he is here to help the investigation through his psychological insights, but not to lead it or hamper it. Horne calls a press conference with Yvonne's mother Audrey Killian and Joe Scudder, but it is further DNA testing four months later that throws up a new suspect, Karl David Stirk.

Badcock examines the interview tapes under close scrutiny, watching and assessing Stirk's reactions under pressure. He is not surprised that Stirk will comply with all police questions bar any to do with the actual murder itself; nor to learn that Stirk has a previous record for stalking and attacking two women. There is a physical similarity between Yvonne (who he used to live close to) and his most recent ex-girlfriend, with whom he had a painful break up - the same ex-girlfriend confirms some untoward behaviour. Badcock is able to give Horne and his team an insight into Stirk's gradual development of parafilia (sexual perversion), and Stirk is sent to trial. Despite the fact that he protests his innocence in court, it takes the jury only 45 minutes to find him guilty and the judge to sentence him to life imprisonment.

Whether Stirk did know his victim or not was never established, as he has always refused to discuss the case in prison, but there is no doubt, that with the help of Badcock and his expertise, and in the words of Yvonne Gillian's mother, that "some good has come out of it. It means that another young woman will be able to walk the street in safety."

The third edition "Peeping Tom" Dr Julian Boon, a lecturer in forensic psychology at Leicester University, is called in by London's Metropolitan Police to advise on the case of a serial criminal who has committed 60 crimes of burglary, indecent assault and rape since 1992 - all to pensioners. The perpetrator specifically targets the older generation - his youngest victim 67, the eldest 80 - and although his crimes have all been committed in south-east London, his activities have covered 145 square miles. After another four attacks come to light, the violence of the crimes appears to have increased - a victim is left with severe internal injuries.

Detective Chief Inspector Duncan Wilson is appointed to launch ''Operation Minstead'', a renewed effort to apprehend the man who has been described as possibly the UK's most prolific serial criminal. He draws together common threads from all the crimes but seeking a clear guide to the needs that are driving the offender, he calls on Dr Boon who classifies the offender as a gerontophiliac, a person with an attraction to older people. He is curious to uncover his background and the formative sexual fantasies which may have shaped him, believing that the criminal may feel self-disgust, but also be compelled by feelings that won't go away. Of great concern is Boon's belief that the perpetrator's actions may lead to a death, even if it is unintended.

The forensic psychologist examines some of the crime scenes and believes that the Met's quarry spends an enormous amount of time as a ''Peeping Tom'', surveying his intended victims. But the police have thousands of suspected peepers on their lists and it is not until a Geographical Profiler is called in that Wilson finds he can whittle the target area down to a key 2.3 square miles. Despite limited resources, an intensive two-week long surveillance operation is mounted with through-the-night patrols in five cluster areas. This is in addition to a time-consuming, and thus far, fruitless police operation to track the criminal through DNA testing. The police have no fingerprints to give them a lead, but do have skin and semen traces. However, the suspect list runs to 10,000.

After CCTV footage catches the suspicious movements of a man in the dead of night, Wilson decides it is time to go public. But it is a decision that involves risk - not only could it provoke public panic but also scare off their prey. With Boon's criminal profile forming a central component in Wilson's ''Operation Minstead'' and media coverage about to break the story it is a taxing time for Wilson and his team. The Real Cracker follows the case as new developments and twists occur in the search for this most elusive and dangerous criminal.

The fourth edition is called "The Hunter" Just outside Winchester is a beauty spot called Farley Mount. It is made up of a thousand acres of countryside and open woodland - a favoured location for courting couples. It is also the site of the longest running series of unsolved serious crimes in Britain. Since January 1991, four couples have been attacked in their cars, by a man in a balaclava and armed with a gun. In the worst case, the man was tied up and left in the boot while the woman was abducted and raped. Now it has happened again. The investigation has been going for over seven years. With no forensic evidence and no obvious clues, the Hampshire police are desperate for a lead. In July 1998, they call in not one but both offender profilers, Drs Julian Boon and Richard Badcock. It's unusual for them to be working together; the only other example is in the case of Manchester GP Harold Shipman.

After examining all the available evidence including photographs and victims' statements, the psychologists' initial analysis suggests that they are dealing with a long-standing sex offender who exhibits an unusually high degree of control in his disturbed actions. He is certainly a psychopath character who knows how to exploit people and knows how to tell a plausible lie. He displays an unusual degree of confidence during the incidences.

Badcock says: "We both think that it is not just somebody showing self control. It's somebody who applies himself to a code of discipline. You have to think seriously about the army and, I'm afraid, the police. You're looking at officer status."

The two profilers are taken by the police to see the crime scenes. However, without consulting them, Steve Watts, who's in charge of the investigation, has also invited two television crews to stoke up some much-needed publicity. In March 1999, after sifting through the hundreds of calls received following the television coverage, the police unearth the first decent suspect in nearly seven years of painstaking investigation. He has a military and police background and was convicted for fraud as well as having a sexual indency offence against him. He works in Southampton and lives near Farley Mount.

The first step is a low-key surveillance operation and the investigating team is now doubly keen to examine Badcock's file, which he is very late in delivering. Badcock is worried about their urgency and how the report may used directly to identify the offender. He cites the case Colin Stagg, who was wrongly arrested for the murder of Rachel Nickel on Wimbledon Common, just because he closely fit the offender profile. The police seem to be pinning all their hopes on their current suspect, but Steve Watts, to his credit, sounds a cautionary note: "The person does fit quite neatly into the profile. What we've got to guard against is that we don't start going down that road and assuming that just because a person fits a profile... that they must ipso facto be the offender."

The two profilers do not have much confidence in Hampshire police's suspect. Despite displaying some of the traits, they do not feel that he is the man. In December 1999, Julian and Richard are proved right when, following an informal interview, the police dismiss him as a suspect - mainly due to the fact that he has a thick regional accent. None of the witnesses mentioned any accent in their evidence. Three years from the last attack, 10 years since the first, the police close down the investigation.

In the final programme "The Dice Man" Dr JULIAN BOON is called in by Sussex Police to work on a case involving four female employees at Gatwick Airport, aged between 22 and 38, who have received anonymous letters through the internal post commanding them to take part in a sinister blackmail game. The sender describes a game he has devised based on the throw of a dice - if his victims refuse to play along, they will have to deal with the consequences: "There are six forfeits ranging from minor to very painful... Number six is an attack with an acid bomb, although there are lots of nasty things from number three onwards."

The blackmailer's first demand is for his victims to place their airline uniforms into black bin liners and leave them in a designated location. His demands become more menacing when he asks for pornographic photographs of the women taken in their uniforms by a professional photographer. She describes her terror at knowing the offender is nearby. "Everybody that I came across, I started thinking that they were the person that had sent me the letter. I used to look at their signatures to see if it looked like the letter... I was accusing everybody. Everybody."

Julian examines all the evidence with some surprising results. After reading the letter requesting photographs of the women in uniform, he immediately suspects a fetishist, and his suspicions are confirmed when he realises he has come across this offender before, a year earlier. A female shop assistant in South London was sent similar letters asking her to dress as an air stewardess, and it seems likely that the perpetrator is the same man. From his knowledge of both cases, Boon draws up a profile of a man displaying "anal sadistic" behaviour: "He will be getting off on constructing that letter. Every line is just causing him to drip mentally with sexual elation." He concludes that the man is probably a frightened individual with a weak ego, and his obsession with ruining the appearance of his victims probably stems from his own physical insecurities. He also claims that the blackmailer is likely to work at the airport in order to satisfy his desires.

The Metropolitan and Sussex Police realise they are after the same man when it emerges that his drop-off point for uniforms is the same in both cases. A surveillance operation is set up at this point on a little used roadside and on the third day, a man arrives in a car, picks up the bin bag and is promptly arrested. Keith Downer is 40 years old, and a senior engineer at Gatwick Airport. His fingerprints match those found on the letters, and he is charged with eight counts of blackmail and sentenced to eight years imprisonment.

With the perpetrator successfully apprehended, we have the opportunity to see how accurate Julian Boon's profile actually proved to be. He himself feigns shock at learning that certain of his deductions were incorrect - the man is not unattractive as he had assumed he would be, and his education and job are of higher levels than he had anticipated. The common view amongst the perpetrator's acquaintances is that his actions, despite their specific and calculating nature, are completely out of character; and as a result, his sentence is reduced by four years. For the victim featured in this film, however, there is no doubt that the Dice Man will strike again.

Genre: Documentary

Running Time: 60 minutes (approx)