Teenager tagged at time of stabbing

Last updated at 17:26 05 August 2004

A 15-year-old who stabbed a jogger in a park was electronically tagged at the time, it has been revealed.

The teenager was fitted with the tag after being released from Feltham young offenders institution six weeks before the brutal attack.

He had been serving a sentence there for robbery and attempted robbery of two younger boys.

Despite being fitted with the tag he was able to go to Clissold Park in north London and stab jogger Monica Watts, a 39-year-old primary school teacher, on December 5, last year.

The tag made no difference to his eventually being caught and charged over the stabbing.

Tagging has become an increasingly important part of Home Secretary David Blunkett's armoury and in March last year the number of offenders tagged in England and Wales passed 100,000, making it the biggest scheme of its type in Europe.

Opponents of the system will highlight the Clissold Park case as showing that tagging does not stop criminals committing further crimes and will argue that it proves offenders whould serve more of their sentences in jail.

The teenager who carried out the stabbing was initially arrested by police on December 15 - 10 days after the attack - because he was the local "public enemy number one" but he was then released.

A month later he was arrested for a second time and charged after he confided details of the attack which were not public knowledge to a friend.

By that time he was back in Feltham on remand after being arrested in Stevenage for mobile phone robbery.

Detectives investigating the Clissold Park stabbing had to go to Feltham to see him.

17 previous convictions

Despite being only 15 and at liberty at the time of the attack the boy already had a long police record.

His nickname was "Slasher" because he was widely known to carry knives and he had 17 previous convictions comprising 26 offences, police sources said.

These included GBH, robbery, three counts of battery, ABH, possessing offensive weapons, theft, criminal damage, common assault, breaches of the peace and using threatening words and behaviour.

One of his violent attacks was on his own mother.

There were more than 180 intelligence reports where police had looked into him.

He was fitted with the tag on October 21 under an order made at Thames Juvenile court and following his release from Feltham.

Scrolling through murder rates at library

He was also ordered by a youth court to have supervised sessions with a Youth Offending Team.

An hour before the attack he was being supervised in a library not far from Clissold Park, police sources said.

One of the supervisors noticed he was looking at the Metropolitan Police website and was scrolling through the murder rates before shouting: "Yes!"

The supervisor asked him: "What do you mean by that?", and the youth replied: "Because Hackney are tops for murder."

He said he had been in Feltham where some boys from Haringey said their borough of London had more murders.

According to police sources he said: "Those boys from Haringey think they're tops - now we are."

Selected his victim

Police believe he then went and followed one woman in the park before selecting the victim.

They initially believed he could be a suspect for the knife murder of another jogger, American artist Margaret Muller, 27, in Victoria Park, Hackney, east London on February 3, last year.

But they later discovered that at the time of the

murder the teenager was in custody in Peterborough, having been arrested for yet another offence.

It was 9am when Ms Muller died and he had he had been so disruptive that at that precise moment he had someone sitting either side of him in Peterborough to keep him under control.

Before he was arrested for the second time over the Clissold Park attack the teenager managed to get rid of the rucksack and some of the clothes he had with him at the time, police sources said.

However, by chance, some time before the attack police had taken video footage inside his flat while investigating him over separate drug allegations.

On the footage was an open-bladed knife which would fit as the weapon used in Clissold Park, they said.