GUARDIAN UNLIMITED 14 MAY 00
'Incompetent' murder case police accused
Officers named in Internet campaign for justice over graveyard stabbing of teen mother, writes Tony Thompson
Sunday May 14, 2000
Campaigners are using fly posters and the Internet in an attempt to secure justice for the family of a teenager brutally murdered nearly four years ago.
Katrina Taylor, 19, was found stabbed to death in a Brighton graveyard in July 1996. Despite two Crown Court trials, no one has been found guilty of her murder. Campaigners believe this is a result of the failure of the local force to investigate the crime properly and are demanding a full investigation by the Police Complaints Authority. They have distributed a list of Sussex officers who are accused of varying degrees of incompetence, from allegedly failing to take statements from key witnesses to not responding to tips about the whereabouts of the accused.
Taylor herself had taken part in a police murder reconstruction in 1986 posing as nine-year-old 'Babe in the Wood' Nicola Fellows, who had been strangled in a Brighton park. Ten years on she was struggling to bring up her baby daughter and fund her heroin habit. In May 1996 she acted as a lookout to a break-in at a flat owned by Neshia Williams, a petty criminal and girlfriend of a drug dealer.
When the intruders tried to steal the washing machine they accidentally flooded the house and set fire to the furniture. Williams began tracking down who was responsible, along with her brother, Simon, her boyfriend Trevor Smith and his flatmate Fergal Scollan. One of the intruders was beaten and stabbed in the leg with a screwdriver.
Taylor was spotted one afternoon outside a hotel by Simon Williams. In the run-up to the subsequent court case the manageress gave a statement saying Williams had dragged the screaming Taylor into his car, but in court she said Taylor had gone willingly - one of a number of conflicting reports. Taylor was taken to a flat where later that evening, Neshia Williams, Scollan and Smith all arrived to see her.
At 11.15pm, screaming was heard in the graveyard of a nearby church. Katrina's body was found the next morning. She had been stabbed five times in the chest, two of the wounds puncturing her heart. According to the pathologist's report, she had been held from behind and stabbed from the front by one or two people.
The four suspects were rounded up and gave a series of interviews to police which, they later admitted in court, were mostly lies. In July 1997, the four appeared at Lewes Crown Court charged with murder. Neshia and Simon Williams claimed Taylor had left the flat late that evening with Scollan and Smith. Scollan and Smith claimed she had left with the Williamses. After a three-week trial, the two Williamses were acquitted, but Scollan and Smith were found guilty of murder and jailed for life.
They appealed and were granted a retrial on the basis that the judge had misdirected the jury. But, because evidence relating to Neshia and Simon Williams could not be heard at the second trial, it collapsed and both men were acquitted.
Since then, Katrina Taylor's friends and family of have highlighted a number of alleged inconsistencies in the evidence presented in the first trial and claim that police ignored vital prosecution witnesses.
A Sussex police spokesperson told The Observer they were aware of the allegations but did not believe there was any new evidence. However, they appealed for any new witnesses to come forward.
Taylor's supporters plan to step up their campaign using fly posters to publicise a £10,000 reward for new information about the murder.
One campaigner said: 'We will not stop until someone has been found responsible for this murder. We want the police to be fully accountable for their actions in this case.'
The campaigners have drawn parallels with another Brighton murder in which Sussex police have been accused of failing to investigate properly. The family of Jay Abatan, a black accountant murdered outside a nightclub last year, joined forces with local MP Peter Bottomley last week to fight for justice.
Bottomley, MP for Eltham at the time of Stephen Lawrence's death, is keen to ensure the case is investigated thoroughly. 'It was at a similar stage in the proceedings after Lawrence's death that I became unhappy about the police investigation. I didn't ask for an inquiry early enough. I don't want to make the same mistake again.'
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2000
IT SEEMS THE MEDIA IS LOOKING VERY CLOSELY AT SUSSEX POLICE WE HAVE GIVEN COPIES OF THE "KATRINA TAPES" AND FILES TO ALL MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA WHO HAVE REQUESTED THEM.
DR DES TURNER MP WELL NOT GIVE THE PRESS A INTERVIEW CONCERNING ALLEGATIONS OF COVERING UP CRIMES AND HIS IN ACTION TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT THE MURDER FRAUD AND OTHER CRIMES MADE AGAINST HIM WONT MAKE STATEMENT = GUILTY