Officer fell victim to robber with a hatred of police: Terry Kirby traces the violent career of a habitual criminal who realised his ambition to 'kill a cop'

Terry Kirby
Tuesday 08 December 1992 01:02

FROM THE moment Nicholas Vernage was released from prison last October, it was inevitable that his ambition to 'kill a cop' would be realised. It was the unfortunate fate of Sergeant Alan King to be the first officer he encountered.

Sgt King, 41, a patrolling officer from Chingford in north-east London, had confronted him, unaware of his hatred of police and the brief orgy of murder and burglary on which he had embarked.

Vernage stabbed the officer repeatedly in the head, neck and chest. As Sgt King crawled along the pavement, Vernage shouted: 'I am going to finish him off,' before plunging the knife in again.

Vernage, 27, of Hackney, east London, was a habitual criminal who specialised in violent robbery and burglaries, usually brandishing a knife, and had convictions for violence and robbery.

In July 1987, he was convicted of conspiring to rob and burgle north London pubs and sentenced to seven years; John Vernage, his elder brother, was jailed for 17 years for raping a publican's wife and a barmaid during their robberies. In prison, Vernage developed a hatred of police officers. It was said that if he saw a police programme on television he would shout obscenities and threats, and if he saw a photograph of a police officer in a newspaper he would thump down on it in a stabbing motion.

He allegedly told fellow inmates: 'All I want is to kill all coppers. Whatever police officer gets in my way they are going to get it. I'll put them to sleep, I want a right war with the police.'

Within days of his release last year, Vernage had burgled four houses, armed himself with a heavy lock-knife with a 3 1/2in blade and stolen a Ford Cortina. On 21 November, he burst into the home of Lorna Bogle, 21, a former girlfriend. After accusing her of deserting him because she had not visited him in prison, he stabbed her 16 times, killing her, and stole cash, jewellery and a passport.

Three days later, he burgled the home of Javaid Iqbal, 34, a mini- cab driver in Leytonstone, east London. when Mr Iqbal surprised him, Vernage stabbed him four times and stole cash and electrical equipment, before leaving him dying on his doorstep. At both scenes, Vernage left the prints of his training shoes in blood.

Vernage then teamed up with an old acquaintance, Peter Grenfell, 29, a petty crook and furniture shop assistant, and together they burgled another house.

On 28 November, the men were staying at the flat of a friend in Walthamstow. Vernage, worried that the stolen goods in the car outside would attract a 'light-fingered local' decided to bring them into the flat. He was spotted by Sgt King.

The officer boxed the Cortina in and approached Vernage, who turned on him and stabbed him four times in the front and four times in the back. Sgt King flagged down a passing motorist and was trying to get into the passenger seat when Vernage ran back down the road to stab the officer again. Sgt King died in hospital.

Grenfell told police that he watched Vernage stabbing Sgt King 'like a lunatic'. Grenfell said: 'He was laughing about it. He thought it was funny. I've had my own psychiatric problems but I couldn't make this madman out.'

The following morning they drove to south London, parked in a road in Thornton Heath and went to sleep in the car, packed with stolen property and with Vernage's jeans, soaked in Sgt King's blood, in the boot.

When two patrolling officers, Constables John Jenkinson, 26, and Simon Castrey, 27, checked the car, Vernage lashed out, stabbing PC Jenkinson in the neck and his colleague five times in the neck and face.

PC Jenkinson, believing he was dying from his wounds, hung on to Vernage's car keys, preventing his attacker's escape in the car.

Thirty minutes later, police dogs following a trail of blood found Vernage crouching in a garden shed, his knife raised and yelling 'You'll get some of this.' He was hit with a truncheon and disarmed.

While awaiting trial, Vernage pulled out the metal frame used to hold his injured arm in position and hid it as a possible weapon. Police believe he planned to use another piece of metal from the sole of his trainers to escape. He also covered his body in baby oil to make capture difficult.

After his arrest, Vernage scrawled on the cell wall at Edmonton Police station, where he was being held: 'Sgt King was killed, stabbed to death in red, boiling and unbearable blood.'

(Photograph omitted)

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