October 2010

Child killer who became first wanted man to appear on Crimewatch found dead in his prison cell

Cowards way out: The rape and murder 16-year-old Colette Aram in 1983 was the first case to be shown on Crimewatch.  Paul Hutchinson was only caught last year after advances in DNA science finally linked him to the crime

A child murderer whose case was the first to be show on TV’s Crimewatch has died after being found unconscious in his cell, the Prison Service said today.

Paul Hutchinson, who in January was jailed for life after he raped and strangled Colette Aram in a country lane in 1983, was found unconscious in his cell at Nottingham Prison yesterday morning and could not be woken by staff.

Emergency services were called but 52-year-old Hutchinson died on the way to hospital.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: ‘HMP Nottingham prisoner Paul Hutchinson was found unconscious in his cell at 8am on Sunday.

It’s thought that he may have taken an overdose of tablets he had acquired in a secret stash.

‘Paramedics were called and tried to resuscitate him but he died at 9.58am while being taken to hospital in an ambulance.

‘As with all deaths in custody, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will conduct an investigation.’

Colette was 16 when she was murdered and sexually assaulted by Hutchinson in 1983.

Her body was found in a field the following day. 

The father of four later taunted police investigating the case by writing a bragging letter, claiming that he would never be caught as he’d hid his face under a Halloween mask.

But a breakthrough in DNA science meant that he was identified last year after a sample taken from a relative for a minor crime was found to mate the murder evidence. 

He was jailed for her murder in January, following a 26-year hunt by detectives.

The full crime 

Colette Aram (3 February 1967 – 30 October 1983) was a 16-year-old trainee hairdresser who was abducted, raped and strangled as she walked from her home to her boyfriend’s house in KeyworthNottinghamshire, on 30 October 1983. The murder was the first case to be featured on the BBC television series Crimewatch when it began in 1984. However, despite receiving over 400 calls as a result of the programme, Nottinghamshire Police were unable to catch the killer, and it was not until 2008 and following advances in forensic technology that police were able to develop a DNA profile of the suspect. Paul Stewart Hutchinson was finally charged with the murder in April 2009. He initially pleaded not guilty but changed his plea to guilty on 21 December 2009 and was sentenced to life imprisonment on 25 January 2010. Following his sentencing, Crimewatch ran a recap of the murder and investigation on BBC TV on 27 January 2010 exposing several inaccuracies reported in the press about his background, notably a lie about being a psychology graduate

Disappearance and investigation

Colette Aram left her home in Normanton Lane, Keyworth, shortly after 8pm on 30 October 1983 to walk the one and a half miles to her boyfriend’s house. She was usually collected by her boyfriend, but his car was off the road. She was last seen at about 8.10pm turning into Nicker Hill where she stopped to talk to a group of friends, and witnesses reported hearing a woman screaming followed by a car driving off at speed shortly afterwards. The alarm was raised when she did not arrive at her boyfriend’s house, and after a series of frantic phone calls, police were called at 10.30pm to help family and friends search for Colette. Her naked body was found dumped in a field about a mile and a half from where she had been abducted at 9am the following morning. She had been raped and strangled.

Police launched a murder investigation, and on 7 June 1984 the murder of Colette Aram was the first case to be featured on the newly launched BBC television series Crimewatch, a programme which reconstructs major unsolved crimes with a view to gaining information from members of the public. As a result of the appeal, police received 400 tip-offs and were able to eliminate 1,500 suspects from their enquiries. However, the killer remained at large. The case was featured for a second time on Crimewatch’s 20th anniversary show in 2004.

In 2008 advances in forensic technology allowed Nottinghamshire Police to put together a DNA profile of the killer,and officers appealed for members of the public to come forward with the names of suspects who could then be DNA tested using a mouth swab. A similar appeal had been made in the hunt for the M25 rapist and had proved successful. Police received more than 100 calls from members of the public.

Arrest of suspect

In June 2008 a young man, Jean-Paul Hutchinson, was arrested on a motoring charge. DNA swabs are routinely taken from anyone who is arrested, and his DNA was a near identical match to the profile of the killer of Colette Aram. However Hutchinson was only 20 at the time, so had not yet been born at the time of the murder. The match provided the police with the breakthrough needed to solve the case.

Paul Stewart Hutchinson, father of Jean-Paul and then aged 50, was arrested and charged with the murder in April 2009.Hutchinson entered a plea of not guilty on 5 October but changed his plea to guilty at a pre-trial hearing on 21 December 2009

Sentencing and death

On 25 January 2010, Hutchinson was jailed for life with a minimum of 25 years at Nottingham Crown Court for the murder of Colette Aram. Colette’s mother Jacqui Kirkby said Hutchinson’s sentencing brings some relief, but the family now need to know why Colette was killed – a question Hutchinson refused to answer. On 11 October 2010, Hutchinson was found unconscious in his cell at Nottingham Prison. He died in an ambulance on the way to hospital. It is believed he took an overdose of medication but a post mortem examination was inconclusive