The big cases Crimewatch helped solve

From BBC - October 17, 2017

After 33 years of appeals and reconstructions, Crimewatch will be hanging up its phone lines for the last time as the BBC axes the ground-breaking programme.

The BBC One institution called on the public to help solve some of the UK's biggest crimes and people would call in their droves with anything they think could help.

And help they did, with some very high profile cases being solved thanks to the prime time programme.

We take a look at some of the most prominent stories featured on Crimewatch and how its viewers helped secure convictions.

James Bulger

Two-year-old James Bulger was snatched from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, on 12 February 1993 whilst out with his mother.

He was taken by Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, who were just 10 years old themselves.

CCTV showed the pair leading James away by his hand. Soon after, they beat him with bricks and iron bars, before leaving his body on a railway line.

It took two days before police discovered the toddler's body.

After the footage was shown on Crimewatch, the two boys were identified by viewers, and convicted of James' murder in November 1993.

Sarah Payne

The disappearance of eight-year-old Sarah Payne on 1 July 2000 led to 16 days of frantic searching before her body was discovered.

Sarah had been walking home from her grandparents' house through a field in Kingston Gorse, West Sussex, when she went missing, and was never seen alive again.

Crimewatch carried out two appeals and in both rounds, Roy Whiting was named as a prime suspect.

Fibres from a patterned curtain were found on Sarah's shoe and a viewer recognised the fabric, as she had left it in a van her boyfriend sold to Whiting.

In 2001, Whiting was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life in prison.

The M25 rapist

The motorway surrounding the capital became the focus of a manhunt in 2001 and 2002 when a number of attacks were carried out on women.

The incidents took place in Kent, Surrey, London and the Thames Valley, and included a victim as young as 10.

An e-fit picture was shown on Crimewatch in October 2002 to try to track down the serial sexual attacker.

A viewer recognised the face and directed police to Antoni Imiela.

Lin and Megan Russell

Julie Dart and Stephanie Slater

The unsolved case of Jill Dando


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