NEWS
17/10/2017 11:50 BST

Crimewatch Helped Solve Some Of The UK's Most High-Profile Crimes

The show is being axed after 33 years.

The BBC has confirmed that Crimewatch has been axed, despite it being instrumental in solving a large number of offences over the last 33 years.

Even after being relaunched with Radio 2′s Jeremy Vine at the helm, Crimewatch struggled with ratings against ITV’s ‘Broadchurch’ and ‘Cold Feet’ in the TV schedules.

The BBC said it would now focus on two series a year of the daytime show, ‘Crimewatch Roadshow’.

On its 25th anniversary, the BBC revealed it had helped catch 57 murderers, 53 rapists and sex offenders and 18 paedophiles. 

Here are some of the most high profile catches:

Murder of Sarah Payne

Sarah Payne was just eight when she vanished on the evening of 1 July 2000 while walking along a country lane near her grandparents’ home at Kingston Gorse in West Sussex.

Some 16 days later her naked body was found by a farmhand in a shallow grave in a field 12 miles away.

Crimewatch showed two appeals related to the case - one which saw a number of callers name convicted paedophile Roy Whiting and another which helped identify a curtain (a fibre from which was found on Sarah’s shoe) from a van which a caller’s ex-partner had sold to Whiting.

Other forensic evidence added to the case for Whiting’s arrest and he was charged on 6 February.

Whiting was convicted of Sarah’s abduction and murder in December 2001. Although initially sentenced to a minimum of 50 years in prison, he appealed and had this reduced to 40 years. Whiting will remain in jail until at least 2041.

Murder of James Bulger

Perhaps some of the most infamous CCTV of all time was shown on Crimewatch following the murder of two-year-old James Bulger in Bootle, Merseyside.

The two-year-old was tortured and killed, before his body was left on the railway line, where it was struck by a train. It was found two days after his abduction on 12 February 1993.

Footage of the toddler being led away from the Strand Shopping Centre by two boys was shown days later on Crimewatch.

As a direct result of the appeal, 10-year-olds Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were identified and eventually convicted of James’ murder.

The judge took the usual step of naming the pair, as well as releasing images of them, saying he believed it was in the public interest.

Murders of Lin and Megan Russell

PA
Lin Russell and her six-year-old daughter Megan were beaten to death with a hammer

Crimewatch is known for its reconstruction section, something which proved crucial in the murder case of Lin and Megan Russell.

The mother and her six-year-old daughter, along with Megan’s sister Josie, nine, were walking in a country lane in Chillenden, Kent, when they were attacked by a man wielding a hammer.

Josie was severely injured but managed to survive the brutal assault.

More than 600 calls were made following the Crimewatch appeal, one of which led to the arrest of Michael Stone. He was convicted of murder and handed a life term.

The M25 rapist

PA
Antoni Imiela was caught thanks to a Crimewatch appeal

Antoni Imiela was caught and imprisoned for a string of horrific attacks around and within the M25 between 2001-2002.

An e-fit which was shown on Crimewatch led to 4,000 responses from the public. One anonymous caller gave Imiela’s home address, the Evening Standard reported at the time.

DNA linked him to the crimes and he was eventually convicted of seven rapes, kidnap, indecent assault and attempted rape.

Imiela was handed a life sentence for the crimes.

Murder of Julie Dart and kidnap of Stephanie Slater

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Michael Sams kept the two women imprisoned in 'coffins'

Michael Sams was caught after his ex-wife recognised his voice when it was played on crime watch.

His identification led to his conviction for murdering Julie Dart and kidnapping Stephanie Slater.

Dart, who had been working as a prostitute in Leeds, was snatched by Sams in July 1991 with the intention of exchanging her for a ransom. However, he went on to beat her to death with a hammer and dumped her body in a bin.

In 1992, Sams kidnaped Slater, an estate agent, when she showed him around a property in Birmingham. He attacked her and tied her up, before imprisoning her in a coffin-style container. She was released when the ransom he demanded was paid.

Sams was handed a life sentence, plus an additional eight years for attacking a probation officer with a metal spike.