Police examine claims in Carl Bridgewater murder documentary


Detectives are examining new claims in a TV documentary about one of Britain's most notorious unsolved murders.

Staffordshire Police said officers are "considering the content" of the programme about the 1978 shooting of paper boy Carl Bridgewater, which raised questions about the alibi of an initial suspect in the investigation.

Carl, 13, was hit at point-blank range after apparently disturbing a burglary at Yew Tree Farm in Prestwood near Stourbridge.

Bert Spencer, an ambulance driver and former neighbour of the Bridgewater family - who later served time in prison for a murder in the same village - was a suspect questioned by police at the time, but has always denied the murder.

An ex-hospital secretary who provided Mr Spencer with what he described as a "cast-iron" alibi for his whereabouts on the day of Carl's killing told the Channel 4 documentary she cannot prove where he was that day.

In the programme, aired on Sunday, Mr Spencer's ex-wife Janet also spoke for the first time about how her then husband disposed of a legally-owned shotgun at the time, and how she had come home to find him washing a green jumper which she never saw again.

Mr Spencer denied her claims, and said: "My ex-wife blamed me for everything, including breast cancer."

Police went on to charge the Bridgewater Four after they were arrested for an armed robbery in nearby Halesowen.

In one of the UK's biggest miscarriages of justice, Patrick Molloy, James Robinson, and cousins Michael and Vincent Hickey had their convictions overturned after 18 years amid concerns about the police evidence.

Months after the Bridgewater Four were jailed in 1979, Mr Spencer used a shotgun to kill his friend Hubert Wilkes at a farmhouse.

In a statement released on Friday, Detective Chief Superintendent Laurie Whitby-Smith said: "Like all unsolved murder cases, Staffordshire Police conducts periodic reviews to ascertain if there is any new evidence available to take cases forward.

"This could be new evidence or revisiting existing evidence which may be subject to review based on advancing forensic science.

"Over many years, the Carl Bridgewater case has been subject of periodic reviews.

"Staffordshire Police is aware of, and has seen, the recent documentary which aired on Channel 4, having been informed by the programme's production company.

"We are now considering the content of the documentary to ascertain whether new information is available beyond what we already know. This process will inform what, if any, action is to be taken in the future."