Sunday, June 04, 2017

The Plumstead Ripper.

You may recall that back in July of last year I featured some CCTV footage showing some youths breaking into the Cross Keys Centre in Erith High Street. You can view the photos here. All six of the youths who broke into the building and burgled the place were captured on High Definition video. Incidentally, all six of the youths were subsequently identified and the Police took appropriate action against them. You would have thought that the message that the Cross Keys Centre has a very advanced security system would have got around, but apparently not; as you can see from the still images above, a thief recently stole a very expensive potted plant from outside of the building in broad daylight. The man, in his mid thirties is stockily built, and very distinctively dressed. If any Maggot Sandwich reader can identify him, you can contact me at the usual Email address and I can take things from there. Alternatively you can contact the Erith Safer Neighbourhood Police team by clicking here.

The tropical foods store in Pier Road has been in hot water recently. They were subject to a unannounced inspection by Bexley Trading Standards team, who during their visit discovered that a faulty band saw that was being used to cut up joints of meat; it was being used by a young employee who had not been properly trained. The company who own the shop, Zion Tropical Foods appeared last week in Bexley Magistrate’s Court where the company pleaded guilty to four health and safety charges relating to its system of work, risk assessments, and the training and protection of young people. They were fined £2,000 in respect of one charge, and £1,000 each in respect of three others. The court imposed a victim surcharge of £170 and awarded the council costs of £2,500. It would appear from comments made to the Bexley Times subsequent to the prosecution that the husband and wife team who run the shop have sacked the young employee and are now running the shop on their own. It seems pretty tough to get rid of an employee due to errors and omissions from the management. I suppose that customers are able to vote with their feet.

It seems to me that almost every week I am reporting another local construction project; housing in the area seems to be one of the most contentious subjects at present. It seems that there is both a large requirement for new housing, and also a level of resistance to new building from existing residents. Another new development has been announced, this time to be constructed in Bexleyheath. Some retirement apartments are being constructed – the development is to be called Cardamom Court, and it will be located on Albion Road, just behind Bexleyheath Broadway. The development is most definitely not going to be affordable housing – the retirement apartments start at £318,950 for a small one bedroom apartment, to a still not really very big two bedroom apartment costing £469, 950. The service charges which will come on top of this are really quite eye watering. A one bedroom flat will have a service charge of £47.06 a week (£188.24 a month), and charges for a two bedroom flat will come to £67.75 a week (£271 a month). According to the property developer’s website, they have already sold around sixty percent of the apartments “off – plan” – that is before they have even been built. Personally I would not want to live on a busy main road – Avenue Road is a busy, and noisy thoroughfare with 24/7 traffic, and the nearby pedestrianised Broadway gets lots of rowdy passers by at night. It would seem that Cardamom Court is going to be a success – but how many of the units are being bought by property speculators is currently unclear. You can see more about the future development by clicking here.

I normally write about the positive aspects of living in the local area, along with pointing out where things could be done better; I have come across a story from the relatively recent past which a far darker side – it concerns an individual who the press at the time called “The Plumstead Ripper”. Robert Napper was the eldest child of Brian Napper, a driving instructor, and his wife Pauline. He was born in Erith in February 1966, Napper was brought up on the Abbey Road Estate in Plumstead. His background was troubled and dysfunctional. The marriage of his parents was violent and Napper witnessed violent attacks on his mother. His parents divorced when he was nine, and he and his siblings (two brothers and a sister) were placed in foster care and underwent psychiatric treatment. The psychiatric counselling Napper had at the Maudsley Hospital in Camberwell lasted for six years. At age of thirteen, Napper underwent a personality change after a family friend sexually assaulted him on a camping holiday. The offender was jailed, but Napper became introverted, obsessively tidy and reclusive, according to his mother. His Asperger's Syndrome was worsened by his experiences, and he began to develop Paranoid Schizophrenia. He attended Abbey Wood Comprehensive School, where classmates said he was “despised”. One said: “No one wanted to sit next to him in class. He did not have any friends and he was teased a lot about his spots. In a game of football once, when he headed the ball, the game stopped because no other boy would go near the boy after it had touched his forehead". Napper left school at 16 with qualifications in seven subjects, lived at home until the age of 21 and took a variety of manual jobs, including work as a warehouse man in the publications and forms store for the Ministry of Defence. His workmates considered him dull and boring: he turned up on time and did not speak much. But undetected by his colleagues and later, the police, his sexual deviancy became ever more extreme. It started with flashing and voyeurism, then it escalated into rape and finally into murder. Before he killed Rachel Nickell, Napper was suspected of four rapes, and he has since been convicted of three of them. Those rapes were part of a series of 106 sexual assaults known as the Green Chain rapes, in south London in the early 1990s near where he lived. While Napper has admitted his involvement in four of them (one never got to trial), it is suspected, although has never been proved, that he committed all of them. In 1986, Napper first came to police attention after being convicted of an offence with a loaded air gun in a public place. In October 1989, police had rejected information conveyed in a phone call from Napper's mother that her son had admitted to perpetrating a rape on Plumstead Common. No case apparently matched the evidence. However, a month earlier a man armed with a knife had attacked a 30-year-old mother of two young children at her house in Plumstead. Police now believe that man was Robert Napper. He let himself in through a rear door which had been opened to let out the family cat after watching the property for some time. He gagged and raped the woman before making his escape. The investigating officers had not looked very hard. Some eight weeks earlier, a 31-year-old mother reported to police that she had been raped in her home in front of her children. The intruder entered the house through the rear door, armed with a Stanley knife and wearing a mask. The woman's house backed on to Plumstead Common. Police had taken DNA from the woman, which had they bothered to interview Napper and take a blood test, they might well have matched to him. It was after this that Napper's mother broke off all contact with him, and she burned all of the photos she had of him. Still in his early twenties, he moved into a bedsit, holding down a string of menial jobs but using his spare time to stalk and choose his victims. A major inquiry was set up after the 1992 attacks. Officers were hunting a perpetrator who showed extreme violence towards his victims, using a knife, and on more than one occasion attacking a woman with her children present. Throughout the inquiry, 106 crimes were identified involving 86 women. And it was in the middle of this inquiry that Rachel Nickell was attacked. Despite similarities between the cases, no one appeared to be joining up the dots. Paul Britton – the well-known criminal profiler a leading influence on the Nickell murder inquiry, was also working on the Green Chain rapes case. Professor Laurence Alison, the chair of forensic psychology at Liverpool University and the author of a new book on Napper, told the Guardian: "Frenzied random motiveless knife attacks on women are rare. Even more unusual are frenzied, random knife attacks on women with their young children present. Here was Britton with two of them under his nose and no one noticed." If the police were not drawing the threads together, others were attempting to point them in the right direction and bring Napper out of the darkness. In August 1992, one of his neighbours in Plumstead rang the police to say he looked like the photo fit of the Green Chain rapist. Detectives went to his house, questioned him and asked him to give a blood sample at the local police station. He failed to turn up. On 15 July 1992 on Wimbledon Common, Napper had stabbed the young mother Rachel Nickell forty-nine times in front of her son Alex, then aged two, who clung on to his mother's body begging her to wake up. Napper was questioned about unsolved attacks on other women during the year, but was eliminated from inquiries, as his false alibi that he had been at work at the time of the murder was not sufficiently investigated by detectives. Officers asked him to visit to a police station on 2 September 1992 and give a DNA sample, but he never turned up. The following day, he was again identified as the man in the E-fit by a caller who identified him as "Bob Napper". Again police visited and asked him to attend a police station to give a sample. An appointment was scheduled for 8 September 1992, but again he failed to turn up. Despite his unwillingness to provide the police with DNA, knowing it would match samples found on the three rape victims, Napper was then ruled out of the rape inquiry simply because he was 6ft 2in and police believed the man they were looking for was 5ft 9in. Three months later in October 1992, Napper was flagged up to the police again when he was arrested over suggestions that he had been stalking a civilian employee at Plumstead police station. Officers searched his bedsit and found a .22 pistol, 244 rounds of ammunition, two knives, a crossbow and six crossbow bolts. Police files from the inquiry show they also found pocket diaries, hand-drawn maps, notes written on the borders of newspapers, and a London A-Z.  Part of his fixation appeared to be to target mothers while they were with their young children. He preyed particularly upon women in parks and commons, but would also stalk them at their homes, watching them for days before choosing his moment to attack. In his rented a room at a house on Plumstead High Street, detectives found a padlocked red toolbox, inside of which were his darkest secrets. They discovered a torch, a restraining cord, and medical notes on how to torture people. There was an illustration of the neck showing how the various human muscles work and interact. Another showed the anatomy of the human torso. One hand-written note said “Mengele’s way” – an apparent reference to the Nazi doctor who practised surgical and psychological experiments on living and dead victims. In the notes were references to methods of restraining someone, including the phrase "cling film on the legs". Another note named particular streets and gave map references for them on the A-Z. Pages had been marked with black dots highlighting certain areas; other locations were marked with dashes. They were concentrated in the Plumstead, Eltham and Woolwich areas of South-East London. Three days later he was arrested for possession of a firearm and sentenced to two months in prison.  Napper pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm and ammunition. In court, references were made to his disturbed mental state and a psychiatric report was produced saying he was "without doubt an immediate threat to himself and the public". Napper was given an eight-week custodial sentence and no further inquiries were carried out into the disturbing evidence found at his flat. In April 1993, Napper's fingerprints were found on a tin box discovered buried on Winns Common, neighbouring Plumstead Common. Inside the box was a Mauser handgun. Despite the fingerprint link, Napper was never questioned about the find. In July of the same year, according to police files, Napper's name was logged on an intelligence report after a couple phoned the police to say they had seen a man spying on their neighbour, a young blonde woman who often walked in her flat semi-naked. The husband followed the man, and when police arrived they spoke to Napper, who gave his name and address. The officers' notes read: "Subject strange, abnormal, should be considered as a possible rapist, indecency type suspect." Shortly thereafter,  in November 1993, in a house in Plumstead, Napper stabbed 27-year-old Samantha Bisset in her neck and chest, killing her, and then sexually assaulted and smothered her four-year-old daughter, Jazmine Jemima Bisset.  In her sitting room, the 6' 2" Napper mutilated Samantha's body, taking away parts of her body as a trophy. The crime scene was reportedly so grisly that the police photographer assigned to the case was forced to take two years' leave after witnessing it. After a fingerprint belonging to Napper was recovered from Samantha's flat, he was arrested, and charged with the murders of Samantha and Jazmine Bisset, in May 1994. Napper was convicted at The Old Bailey in October 1995. He also admitted two rapes and two attempted rapes at this time. From the time of the first Old Bailey trial, he has been held at Broadmoor. In December 1995 he was questioned about Nickell's death but denied any involvement. Napper is also believed to be the "Green Chain Rapist", who carried out at least 70 savage attacks across south-east London over a four-year period ending in 1994. The earliest of the 'Green Chain' rapes have been linked to Napper, and were those he admitted to in 1995. Napper is known to have kept detailed records of the sites of potential and actual attacks on women. As if this was not bad enough, Colin Stagg, an entirely innocent man was initially charged with the murder of Rachel Nickell until, in 2004, advances in DNA profiling revealed Napper's connection to the case. On 18 December 2008, Napper was convicted of the manslaughter of Rachel Nickell on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He also admitted to four other attacks on women. Napper was to be held indefinitely at Broadmoor Hospital. At the same time, Colin Stagg received a public apology from the police, and an unprecedented compensation payment from the Home Office which exceeded £735,000. As he progressed from peeping tom to stalker, then to multiple rapist and finally serial killer, Napper came on to the police radar at least seven times, on at least two occasions displaying behaviour that marked him out as a danger to women. But he was never pursued. Had the links been investigated, the connections would have led detectives to Napper earlier, preventing Colin Stagg from being made a pariah and saving another young mother and her child from murder and depraved mutilation. Now Robert Napper is spending the rest of his life in Broadmoor Hospital; recent accounts state that he is still highly delusional;  he believes he has a Master’s degree in Maths, had won the Nobel Peace Prize, been awarded medals for fighting in Angola and had millions stashed in a bank in Sidcup. He also believes that his fingers had been blown off by an IRA parcel bomb but had miraculously grown back. The only good news to come out of this sad and disturbing tale is that Napper will never be released, and cannot further threaten the public. 

Following the story that Bexley Council have agreed outline planning permission on part of Old Farm Park in Sidcup, and the widely held public belief that Bexley Council are relentless in their desire to sell off as much public land for commercial development as housing, a strong rumour has been forwarded to me by two separate and respected sources. The rumour (and it is only that at this stage) is that the owners of The Europa Industrial Estate in Fraser Road are having problems finding suitable tenants for much of the extensive site; the former Europa Gym is now converted into a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO), but many of the other industrial units especially at the Eastern end of the site lay empty. Consultation with an industrial estate agent suggests that around twenty units on the Europa Estate have been empty for some considerable time, with little interest from local businesses in occupying them. My information is that the owners of the Europa Estate are currently considering relocating the few businesses in the Eastern, Erith end of the estate into the Western end, nearer to the BATT Cables site; they would then sell the Eastern side of the estate to a property developer. I can see the thinking in this; the Erith Quarry site, only a couple of hundred metres further along Fraser Road is seeing exceedingly good business, with many units already sold "off plan". The owners of the Europa Estate may well wish to copy this - after all, if they can get the necessary planning permissions from Bexley Council (surely a formality with the track record of this local administration) then the land would be worth a king's ransom, situated as it is adjacent to Erith Station, Erith town centre and road links to the M25, the South Circular and the A2. I stress that what I have heard are merely rumours; if you have any concrete information confirming or denying this story, please drop me a line to in complete confidence.

On my way to work on Thursday morning, I saw a total of four, three piece suites dumped by the roadside – all of which were in Erith. One of the three was dumped by a post box, and the other three were left adjacent to the Sikh temple at the Pom Pom. The level of fly tipping seems to be increasing at an exponential rate. I know that this is a UK wide problem, and I have been doing some research into what may be the causes. Six of the ten worst hot spots for fly tipping in the UK are within the boundaries of Greater London. Haringey in North London tops the list, with about 25,000 cases of fly-tipping reported in the last year – the equivalent of one offence for every ten people who live there. Westminster comes in second, while Greenwich, Croydon, Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea also appear in the top 10. Brent, also in Nhorth London, saw the biggest year-on-year rise in fly-tipping incidents – an 84 per cent hike between 2014/15 and 2016/17. A number of councils have mounted campaigns to discourage people from fly-tipping, and to encourage residents to report it. The London Borough of Bexley appears very low down on the list, something which surprises me greatly. How accurately the statistics have been compiled is not clear. As regular readers may be aware, I have been involved in a couple of successful prosecutions for fly tipping in the past, one of which led to the perpetrator getting an eight month prison sentence, on top of a heavy fine and the confiscation of his van. These however seem to be the exception rather than the rule – most fly tippers do so safe in the knowledge their chances of being caught and subsequently prosecuted are vanishingly slim.

The Penny Farthing micro pub in Crayford has done astonishingly well for itself; since it opened in September 2014. The Bexley Times have reported that the Penny Farthing sold its one thousandth cask of real ale on Thursday evening. The micro pub is located in the riverside at Crayford, cleverly located right next door to the Crayford Tandoori – a match made in heaven. In a very nice touch, the 1000th cask was of a locally produced  Motueka Pale Ale from the Bexley Brewery, which is located only up  the road in Erith. The Penny Farthing is a great success – when you hear of so many pubs closing and often being converted into flats, or just being demolished completely, it is a very good feeling that Micro Pubs are very much bucking this trend.

Radio Caroline will broadcast on the former BBC World Service medium wave frequency of 648 kHz, after being awarded a community radio licence for East Anglia. The station was given the go-ahead by Ofcom last month, and now says the regulator has also agreed to its request for a 1000-watt ERP (Effective Radiated Power). In a statement on the Radio Caroline website, the station said: “We can now announce that our AM frequency will be 648 kHz with a power of 1000 watts. This is ERP or simply the power radiated by the aerial. A transmitter was imported from the Continent a few days ago and is now being modified to suit the frequency. There are further hurdles, but as you can see progress is being made. Watch this space.” The new Radio Caroline will play album tracks and had proposed a coverage area from Ipswich to Diss and Bury St Edmunds to Saxmundham. Some programmes will be broadcast from studios in Kent, and others via a link to the Ross Revenge ship. The station has previously said that, if practical, it aims to get on air in time for the 50th anniversary of the Marine Offences Act on 14th August. Caroline already runs a service online and via a number of DAB multiplexes around the country. What is both surprising and welcome is the choice of frequency 648 kHz is the old BBC World Service channel that was in use by that station until March 2011. 648 kHz is what is known as a “clear channel” – one that is shared with no others in the transmission area. The nearest other broadcasters using 648 kHz are Murski Val located in Northern Slovenia, and RNE Radio Nacional in Bajadoz in Spain. Both of those stations use a transmission power of 10 kW – which should hopefully not interfere with the 1kW signal from Radio Caroline to the Eastern parts of the UK. I actually suspect that the forthcoming Caroline radio transmissions will be a big target for Medium Wave DXers (the radio equivalent of train spotters) – I think it will be only hours from launch before the first long range reception reports start coming in from parts of Scandinavia and well beyond.  There will be plenty of people getting their anoraks dry cleaned just waiting for the day. The amount of power granted by Ofcom to Radio Caroline is a bit of an eye opener; an ERP of a kilowatt is a lot of power for a local station. Good news all round.

I think everyone who uses the web has come across all sorts of pop ups and warning pages that tell you that your computer has been infected by malware and all sorts of nasties. Most people realise that these are scams; fraudulent pages trying to get you to part you with your money. The enterprising chap in the short video below has taken it upon himself to investigate exactly who is behind one range of these fraudulent web page pop ups. It makes for very enlightening, not to mention entertaining viewing. Have a look and see what you think. Feel free to leave a comment below, or Email me at

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