Stagg wins £700,000 'lottery' payout but son who saw Rachel Nickell murdered gets just £90,000

Posted on 12:38 AM by Sameer Shah

The man cleared of murdering Rachel Nickell has spoken of his delight at being awarded a record £706,000 damages for the police blunders which ruined his life.

Colin Stagg, 45, described the payout as 'like winning the lottery'.

The Home Office award - a record for someone wrongly charged - provoked immediate critcisim. It dwarfs the amount given to Miss Nickell's son Alex, who witnessed her murder at the age of two.

It took a seven-year legal battle before the youngster, now living abroad with his father, was awarded £90,000 for trauma and loss of the services of a mother.

Tory MP Patrick Mercer said: 'There is a total imbalance between the payout for the indirect victim of the crime, in this case Rachel's son, and the payout Mr Stagg received.

'I do wonder where we are getting figures like this from when servicemen injured on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan are getting nothing close to this amount.'

Lawyers for Mr Stagg last night refused to rule out further legal action. Solicitor Alex Tribick said they would consider suing the Metropolitan Police.

Miss Nickell, 23, a former part-time model, was on Wimbledon Common in South West London with Alex in 1992 when she was stabbed 49 times and sexually assaulted in broad daylight. A year after the killing

police charged Mr Stagg following a controversial 'honeytrap' operation involving an undercover woman detective who was used to encourage him to confess.

Mr Stagg sent her letters fantasising about perverted sex involving knives and bondage. Crucially, however, he never confessed to Miss Nickell's murder.

Rachel Nickell pictured in July 1992.

The case was thrown out at the Old Bailey in 1994 when a judge lambasted the police methods.

Despite his acquittal. Mr Stagg - who has a conviction for a minor sex crime - claimed the stigma of the case made him unemployable and a 'national hate figure'.

He spent 13 months in custody and endured more than a decade of speculation that he was, in fact, the killer.

Last year Robert Napper was charged with the murder. He will stand trial in November.

Mr Stagg's legal team submitted a 70-page compensation claim after the Home Office told him last year that he was eligible under a discretionary payout scheme.

The amount was decided by Lord Brennan QC, an independent government assessor, who described the police tactics

in the case as 'manipulation and deception, some of it of a highly reprehensible kind' and said they had contributed directly to the size of the payout.

He said prosecution of the case had been 'egregious'.

Speaking outside his council flat in Roehampton, West London, last night Mr Stagg said: 'It hasn't sunk in properly yet. I thought at first my solicitor was joking.

'I thought the Establishment would make a token payment, but this is like winning the lottery. But what pleases me more than the money is that this is effectively a public apology.
Stagg timeline


'I've no doubt there will still be people who resent me getting it and some who actually believe I'm guilty. But over the years, I've come to terms with my life, such as it is.'

Mr Stagg has spoken of his desire to set up a landscape gardening business with his payout. He has previously expressed a wish to start a family with his girlfriend of two years, Terri Marchant, and hopes of starring on a reality TV show.

He said: 'The award is going to make a huge difference. I am not going on a spending spree. I plan to bank most of it.

'That is what I have got to live on for the rest of my life.

'I would like to buy my council flat where I have lived for over 30 years and I want to put in a new bathroom and kitchen and make a few changes in the garden and of course make sure that I have got food on the table and my bills paid. The best thing is being able to get off the dole.

'I am a proud man who has never been afraid of work, but nobody in the countless interviews I have attended has wanted to take me on. Now I can work and I've got some small business ideas.

'I can afford to try out my business ideas but I want to take my time and not rush into things.

'I am still coming to terms with all the implications that go with the award. I am also feeling a sort of peace for the first time since my arrest 15 years ago.

'I am now slowly realising that I have a future after all and that is a great feeling.'

His solicitor Mr Tribick said: 'This 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. But 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.

'He is not angry, he is hurt and disappointed. He is gradually getting his life back on track and this will act as a catalyst.

'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.

In some people's eyes he will always be the bloke who got away with murder.'
The compensation cost of the Nickell case to the taxpayer is rapidly approaching £1million.

The officer involved in securing Mr Stagg's confession received £200,000 after it was accepted she should have been given counselling following her 'harrowing and dangerous assignment'.

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