Last night's viewing - Killers Behind Bars: the Untold Story, Channel 5: Jimmy and the Giant Supermarket Channel 4


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The Independent Online

Here's an odd way of presenting your academic credentials: "As a criminologist, I was at the heart of the media circus and called on for expert analysis by a major news channel."

The speaker was David Wilson, professor of criminology at Birmingham City University and the clowns had come to town for the coverage of the Ipswich murders of 2006. "Media circus" would usually imply a distaste for the crudities of popular coverage of such a distressing event. But it seems that Professor Wilson must have enjoyed the smell of sawdust because here is in Killers Behind Bars: the Untold Story to go over the details all over again. His purpose, bluntly put, is to add to Steve Wright's macabre score, by identifying earlier murders that he might also have committed.

To that end, Professor Wilson revisits the scene of the crime, interviewing policemen, relatives of the victims and fellow experts to build up a picture of the perpetrator's modus operandi. And, to put it mildly, his director doesn't exactly strain to keep things clinical. Glenn Wilson, a psychologist, was interviewed about Wright's preference for strangulation in a disused factory, the setting given an extra gothic topspin with shock-edits and sudden close-ups of unsettling graffiti and wire nooses. Is this criminology or titillation? And couldn't you have matched Professor Wilson's expert analysis of the killer simply by watching enough Hollywood thrillers? "This is somebody who has power," he concluded after reviewing the ways in which the bodies had been dumped, "This is somebody who is playing games with the police."

It didn't seem entirely implausible that Wright might have killed earlier, and Wilson focused on one potential victim in Michelle Bettles, who was found dead in 2002. Wright was living in Norwich at the time and Bettles had told her parents about getting into a car with a cross-dressing man (Wright was also known to cross-dress). You might still want to proceed with caution though. As Wilson himself had reminded us, sex workers are "incredibly vulnerable to attack" and if you've killed someone in a provincial city it's not terribly unlikely that they will end up left in secluded woodland. Wilson, though, doesn't seem to have much time for reasonable doubt: "This is screaming out connection, connection, connection," he said excitedly. "One of the things I teach my students is that there's no such thing as coincidence when you're dealing with a serial killer." No such thing as coincidence? Do they have some kind of force-field that alters the universe around them?


Wilson eventually decided the matter by putting his findings in front of a jury of his own students. And before you object, he'd thought of that. "People might get the impression that somehow if you're presenting to your students they're simply going to agree with the professor. That's not the case at all". So that's alright then. Unsurprisingly, Wilson got a unanimous show of hands in favour of his "hunch" and finished with a plea to the police to look again at this case. He didn't mention that the police have already looked again at this case and presumably concluded that most of the evidence is circumstantial and wouldn't stand much of a chance in court.

Tesco's sales dipped in the first quarter, which may please those with a beef against the power of the big retailers. But even they might want to do their bit to improve sales of two new Tesco product lines, the free-range sausages and chicken kievs that Jimmy Doherty has persuaded them to put on the shelves. Jimmy and the Giant Supermarket has been following the process and it has been very interesting, an admirable primer in product development and the economics of mass-market food. Tesco would have been idiots to delist either item before this three-part advert aired. Now it's down to us.