Entertainment

Crimewatch: Three decades of catching Britain's most wanted

A string of high-profile murder and rape investigations have been helped with the public's assistance after featuring on Crimewatch.

The BBC has said it is calling time on Crimewatch after 33 years of being a staple on the schedules.

Since it was first broadcast in 1984, the programme has carried hundreds of appeals for information and reconstructed crimes with the aim of catching those responsible.

Here are some of the high-profile crimes which have been solved with the help of the public after being featured on the show:

:: One of the more shocking crimes shown on the programme was the abduction and murder of two-year-old James Bulger. Crimewatch broadcast the grainy CCTV footage of two 10-year-old boys with the toddler at a shopping centre in Bootle. After the show, two witnesses rang in and confirmed they had seen Robert Thompson and Jon Venables with James.

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Jon Venables (left) and Robert Thompson.

:: A 45-year-old woman, her two daughters and dog were tied up and beaten with a hammer in a savage attack in Chillenden, Kent, in July 1996. Lin Russell and her six-year-old daughter Megan both died. Nine-year-old Sophie miraculously recovered from the ordeal. The Crimewatch reconstruction featured a description of the attacker and they were identified as Michael Stone after a tip-off from a psychiatrist. Stone was sentenced to at least 25 years in prison.

Michael Stone appeal
Michael Stone (PA archive)

:: Estate agent Stephanie Slater was kidnapped in January 1992 after meeting a prospective house buyer in Great Barr, Birmingham. She was tied up and taken to a warehouse where her kidnapper demanded a ransom. She was later released, but the tape was played on Crimewatch and was recognised by a woman who used to be married to the culprit, Michael Sams.

Stephanie Slater and Michael Sams
Stephanie Slater and Michael Sams (PA file)

:: Joel Smith was turned in after a Crimewatch appeal and is serving at least 40 years in prison for the murders of Bertram Byfield and Toni-Ann Byfield. Smith shot Bertram Byfield three times in his living room and then shot seven-year-old Toni-Ann in the back as she attempted to flee.

Joel Smith
Joel smith (Metropolitan Police/PA)

:: Antoni Imiela was identified by a neighbour after an appeal to trace a man who had attacked 10 women in a year. The attacks were dubbed the M25 rapes as they were committed in areas close to the motorway and Imiela was given a life sentence.

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