|16 Sept 1947
|1981 & 1984
|Claire Woolterton-17; Deirdre Sainsbury-29
|Reading Crown Court
Thursday 27 August 1981, 17-year-old Claire Woolterton left work at an amusement arcade in west London to walk home, but never arrived. At 6am the next morning, a member of the public walking along Barry Avenue in Windsor spotted what he thought was a mannequin's body on the footpath, which turned out to be the body of teenager Claire Woolterton. The body was partially naked with multiple knife wounds and a cut to the throat. She had been sexually assaulted.
Police opened a murder investigation, saying that they believed that she had been murdered elsewhere and dumped at the location by the murderer. This was indicated by the fact that the last known sighting of her was walking down the Uxbridge Road in Acton, yet she was found dead in Windsor. Two witnesses came forward to say they had seen a girl being bundled into a car that night on the Uxbridge Road, and the police theory was that, since she had been found on one side of a stone wall right next to the River Thames, her killer may have parked their car there in the darkness and dumped her body over the wall, thinking it would go into the river.
Forensics were taken from Claire Woolterton's body in the hope that fibres might be found to help identify a suspect, although as DNA profiling was not yet invented as a form of evidence in the early 1980s, the significance of DNA evidence was not known at the time. No suspects were identified and the case eventually went cold.
December 1984, Colin Campbell abducted 29-year-old Deirdre Sainsbury in his car as she was hitchhiked along the South Circular Road in Roehampton, west London. He killed her and dumping her body on Denham golf course. Her body was mutilated and she was found completely naked. A local witness had seen Ms. Sainsbury get into Campbell's car and remembered the car registration number, the car was found to belong to Colin Campbell. Police went to his home and found the murdered woman's missing clothing inside Campbell's home.
When arrested Campbell confessed to killing her, after he had made a sexual advancement on her but claimed he had killed her because he had suffered an epileptic fit. He claimed he had only mutilated her to make it look like a maniac had done it. However, at trial the jury did not believe his claims that an epileptic fit could explain such a brutal and sexually-motivated murder, they found him guilty of murder and not manslaughter.
1996, Campbell won an appeal against his conviction for the murder of Deirdre Sainsbury, with his defence team having employed experts who claimed that Campbell could not have murdered her due to an epileptic fit from being on the wrong medication.
1999, At a retrial, Campbell pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, due to the epilepsy, this plea was accepted by the prosecution. The judge said that while the conclusion was that he had killed with diminished responsibility, Campbell still constituted a danger to the public and ordered him to return to prison, with release only being possible through the parole process. Having already served 13-years he was given a minimum tariff of one day, However, subsequent parole board hearings found that he was still too dangerous to be released.
2011, Campbell was downgraded to a Category D prisoner status and was being allowed out into the public on licence for five days every month, before he was arrested over Miss Woolterton's death.
2011, the Claire Woolterton case was reviewed by a team led by Pete Beirne, who had been a junior detective on the original murder inquiry. A Specialist forensic scientist was brought in to examine the evidence with modern forensic techniques, and the DNA profile of an unknown man was identified and extracted. When this DNA profile was uploaded onto the national DNA database, it was found that the DNA belonged to Colin Campbell. The likelihood of the DNA not belonging to him was a billion to one. Having already been convicted of the very similar murder of Deirdre Sainsbury only three years later in 1984, lead detective Beirne said that he "immediately knew who he was" when the match was revealed to him. Like Sainsbury, Woolterton had disappeared from west London, with her body found a few miles away. The police had noted the large number of similarities between the murders at the time and believed they were linked, but they had little concrete evidence against Campbell.
4th December 2013, at trial at Reading Crown Court, a now 66-year-old Campbell claimed he did not know Claire Woolterton. This time he was not able to repeat the claim that he had only murdered because of his epilepsy, with the experts who had testified that epilepsy may have been a factor in his murder of Deirdre Sainsbury saying that they did not accept that there was a possibility that epilepsy could explain a man murdering on two occasions. Instead he decided to defend himself by saying that although he did not remember doing so, he may have once walked into the amusement arcade and she may have sat on his knee, which is why his DNA had been found on her. However, the forensic scientists said that the type and location of the evidence meant that this was not a possibility, since the DNA found could not have come from the minimal contact Campbell described. Campbell's claims were rejected by the jury and he was found guilty of her murder. He was sentenced to a minimum of 24 years imprisonment, meaning he will be at least 90 years old before he will be eligible for release.