The quintessential brief for a criminal case is to catch the offender and shut the case as soon as possible. A law enforcement officer can go to any lengths to conclude his responsibilities. But are those lengths favorable for a commoner whose life can get ruined in such an imposition? Niall MacCormick’s Mini-Series, Deceit (also titled My Name is Lizzie) records one such real event to hunt down a psycho serial killer roaming on the streets of South London.
‘Deceit’ Plot Summary
Set in 1992, Deceit begins with its protagonist, Sadie Byrne (Niamh Algar), an undercover cop who busts a drug smuggling syndicate, TMC, through her flair of disguise. However, even after putting her life at risk, the head officer showers all the credit on the operation-in-charge officer, Mark De Costa (El Anthony). Sadie feels cheated and is burning with a desire to prove her mettle, and heaven hears the call.
The opportunity strikes as Sadie Byrne is called to southwest London to investigate the brutal murder of young mother Rachel Nickell. In a ferocious attack by her offender, Rachel was sexually assaulted and stabbed 49 times in the open fields of Wimbledon Common. When her body was found, her two-year-old son was clinging to her body. The murder sent shockwaves through the country.
At the Wimbledon Police Station, Sadie meets the SIO Keith Pedder (Harry Treadaway), who informs her about the reports made by English profiler Professor Paul Britton (Eddie Marsan). The criminal profilers examined the evidence and the crime scene. Both came back with virtually identical profiles for the killer that led the Police to a 29-year-old, Colin Francis Stagg. However, they had nothing but circumstantial evidence against Stagg and thus need Sadie’s help to participate in an undercover op, Operation Edzell, designed by Professor Paul. For the pursuit, Sadie will have to build a relationship with Stagg and become a part of his world to investigate his involvement in the murder. The operation will either eliminate Stagg from the inquiry or implicate him further. Is Sadie ready for the riskiest but rewarding case of her career?
Sadie Byrne in Colin Stagg’s World as Lizzie James
Based on Colin Stagg’s analysis of the murderous deviant, Professor Britton transformed Sadie Byrne into Lizzie James. Lizzie entered Stagg’s world as Tracy Hynes’ friend, to whom Stagg wrote a disgusting letter filled with his fantasies. Britton gave Lizzie a fictional murder story that would compel or influence Stagg to share his own sins with Lizzie. Stagg took the bait and confessed to strangling a little girl in the woods with his cousin when he was 12 years old to impress Lizzie. However, Police failed to find any match for the murder Stagg described, and it was a fictional made up to lure Lizzie.
Dealing with Colin Stagg and all the investigation involved in the case worsened Sadie’s mental stability. She started hallucinating about Stagg murdering her because she constantly met dead ends while trying to explore Stagg’s mind. Lizzie played all her cards on their third date, forcing Stagg to weave stories around Rachel Nickell’s murder. Colin got carried away and described Rachel’s body posture after the murder. SIO Keith used Colin’s description of Rachel’s body posture to build a case and arrested him soon after. Sadie knew that Colin was innocent but held back her impulse in her greed to achieve recognition from the case.
The fate of Colin Francis Stagg
When Colin was in jail waiting for his court trial, another double murder took place in Plumstead, South London. A young mother, Samantha Bisset, and her daughter, Jazmine, were killed in their house. SIO Keith and Professor Britton contacted the investigating officer of Samantha’s murder case. After an investigation, Britton assured the department that the killers of Rachel and Samantha are two different identities. While Rachel’s killer spared the child, Samantha’s murderer suffocated her daughter to death. Yet, Britton’s profile of the two murderers was very much alike, and Sadie consciously noted it down. She shared her doubt with Keith, but he was relying prominently on Britton’s advice and chose to ignore Sadie’s claims.
Hopefully, the court saw Police’s deceptive attempt to frame Colin Stagg. Colin indicated that the victim’s hands were as if in prayer. But according to the Judge’s examination of the photograph, the victim’s hands were not palmed. The arms were crossed at the wrist so that the hands barely touched. The revelation completely undermined the Police’s whole thesis who constructed their case around that tiny piece of evidence. Colin Stagg was found not guilty but spent a proportion of his life labelled as a killer by society.
Who killed Rachel Nickell, Samantha Bisset & Many Others?
The investigating officer of Samantha Bisset’s double murder case found fingerprints on the crime scene that led them to an actual nasty offender, Robert Clive Napper. Robert was convicted for the crimes, but Professor Britton didn’t verify his association with Rachel’s murder at that time.
Fourteen years later, after Rachel’s case was shut down, Schizophrenic Robert Napper pleaded guilty to killing Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common.
‘Deceit’ Ending Explained
The promising career of Lizzie James was over by the age of 33, who took early retirement as a result of the damaging psychological impact the investigation had on her. Keith Pedder also retired soon after the collapse of Colin Stagg’s trial, suffering from stress and depression.
For 16 years, Colin Stagg lived a vilified life for the crimes he didn’t commit. In 2008, after Robert’s confession, Colin received a public apology from the Metropolitan police and 700,000 euro in compensation for his wrongful arrest and prosecution. He finally found happiness with his long-term partner, whom he first met as a teenager.
Later, Professor Britton claimed that he had told the Police that the murders of Rachel, Samantha, and Jazmine were linked. However, Police rejected his claims. Due to the Police’s catalog of mistakes, they missed numerous opportunities to identify and arrest Robert Napper. As a result of their failures, Napper committed more than 100 brutal crimes and attacks on women as far back as 1989. These tragedies could have been avoided if Napper had been taken off the streets before he went on to murder Rachel, Samantha, and Jazmine.
Deceit ends with Sadie Byrne looking over Colin Stagg after she found that he was innocent. He was in love with Lizzie and did all to impress her, and Sadie knew it all from the beginning. Yet, for a promising career, she remained silent and let Stagg suffer for 16 years. The lengths one can go to achieve fame, success, and recognition.
Deceit (also titled My Name is Lizzie) is a 2021 Crime Thriller Mini-Series created by Niall MacCormick. It is based on the real-life events following the investigation of Colin Stagg and serial killer Robert Napper.