Meet The Team
Pip Watts started her broadcasting career aged just 16 in the 1980s at the BBC's Pebble Mill studios, answering phones and meeting all kinds of celebrities. But it was in the early ’90s when she became intrigued by true crime.
"Stephanie Slater was kidnapped by the killer Michael Sams just down the road from where I lived. The story of her capture and subsequent release by that evil monster was both bone-chilling and intriguing. I'd studied drama at University until that point. But Stephanie’s story stayed with me. It spurred me on to do a broadcast journalism postgraduate course. The rest is history."
Pip went on to work for commercial TV and BBC radio. One of her stand out-moments was covering the case of murdered Nottinghamshire jeweller, Marian Bates.
"I was in a muddy field reporting on a housing story when I got the call. Grandmother Marian was brutally gunned down in cold blood at her jewellery store. I was told to get to police HQ for a press conference as soon as possible. It was my first major crime story."
And it was a shocking tale, with murky connections to notorious gangsters.
"I got to cover the trial of one of Marian Bates's murderers, but they never found James Brodie, the man who actually pulled the trigger", continues Pip. "They thought his criminal bosses got to him before the police. Rumour had it his body was fed to pigs."
"Seeing the chilling stare of those psychopathic killers in the dock stays with you. What makes them sink to such depraved depths? I hope by looking back at some of these cases we can remember the victims, too."
Jacques Morrell joined the British police in 1985. It was a period of political unrest in the immediate aftermath of the bitter miners’ strike. Policing needed to modernise and police procedures and ethics were under scrutiny.
There had been several notorious cases where old-school investigations had struggled to catch the offender. The Black Panther and The Yorkshire Ripper cases had undermined the public’s confidence in the police. Forensic science was improving and the outdated Judges Rules were replaced by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act of 1984.
“It was the start of a new era, but the change didn’t happen overnight”, says Jacques. “Technology helped, but it was also a change in culture”
Jacques saw the passing of the old era and witnessed the dawn of the new. He soon became a detective and made the rank of Detective Sergeant, or as Jacques describes it, “the best job in policing”.
During his career DNA technology arrived and then NAFIS, the UK’s first national fingerprint database.
Jacques worked exclusively on homicide cases from 2003 and this included reviewing and reinvestigating some unsolved cases.
Despite retiring after 30 years on the force, he’s unable to hang up his boots. He’s fascinated by historic crimes and relishes examining them through a modern lens.
“I’ve always considered myself to be a ‘thinking man’s copper’. I enjoy working out what makes people tick”, says Jacques. “And I always smile when I recall my report from Detective Training School. It read that I had an ‘ability to assume the criminal mind’."
When he’s not podcasting, Jacques writes about policing and is working on his memoirs and a crime fiction novel. His first thriller, The Showman, was published in 2017.
Simon Ford’s journalism career began in commercial broadcasting and he was a BBC news editor before going freelance. He cut his teeth as a court reporter covering proceedings for local radio.
“All aspects of human experience – the triumphs and the tragedies – were played out in public court. My first ‘job’ was a murder and I was instantly hooked. Afterwards, I’d spend my days off in the public gallery soaking up the atmosphere.”
It wasn’t all scribbling on the press bench.
“I worked in some gritty places in Yorkshire and the Midlands. I grew up in a coal mining community so I was used to the rough stuff. But it didn’t shake my belief in the essential goodness of human nature.”
“Psychopaths fascinate me. They’re edge cases; a breed apart, like a sub-species. A psycho has no empathy, no conscience. They know the difference between right and wrong, but they don’t care. And they’re everywhere. We only hear about the ones who commit ghastly crimes.”
Now a part-time lecturer, podcasting gives Simon an outlet as a storyteller. “Writing for radio is about painting pictures with the spoken word. It’s the same challenge in one of our podcasts – stimulating the senses through the medium of sound – conjuring up images in the mind’s eye.”
It’s difficult for Simon to choose a favourite episode. “Favourite isn’t the word I’d use, but Linda Fleming’s murder made an impression. Her father brained her with a hammer, rolled her body in a carpet, dumped it, and then cooly drove to the cash-and-carry. A total psycho.”
“But if I could take one podcast to a desert island, it’d be Julie Dart’s story. I say story, not murder because I knew her mum, Lynne. She didn’t want Julie’s death to define her. Julie was only 18, made a few mistakes, met a monster and paid with her life. There but for the grace of God, eh? So, yes, Julie’s story is very important to me.”