Madeleine – Colin Sutton on the 10th anniversary

Colin Sutton is an ex-SIO with the Met, and is to appear in at least 3 forthcoming specials around Madeleine’s 10 anniversary, and he has popped up in Mail Online today.

This article explains his experience and capability.

Ex-Senior Investigating Officer for the Met Police Murder Squad who led the investigations to convict Levi Bellfield and Delroy Grant.

Colin Sutton spent the last nine years of his police career as Senior Investigating Officer for the Met Police’s Murder Squad. Among the dozens of investigations he led, the most notable was perhaps the operation which convicted the serial killer Levi Bellfield. He then took over and reinvigorated the ‘Night Stalker’ investigation in 2009, which quickly led to the arrest and conviction of Delroy Grant for a long series of rapes on the elderly. He was also responsible for the re-investigation of the Deepcut Barracks deaths.

Colin retired with 30 years service in the police and he now advises and provides commentary and insight around crime and criminal justice issues for both the written and broadcast media. In addition to his investigative work Colin has significant experience of managing volume crime, covert law enforcement techniques, informant handling and technical surveillance. Colin has a degree in law and studied Criminal Justice post-graduation. He maintains a great interest in, and has forthright opinions on the criminal justice system and policing, from the commission of offences right through to the sentencing of offenders and the prison system.

The Delroy Grant case was a long standing case – what methods did you use to solve this case in such a relatively short amount of time and what was the most significant breakthrough?

The focus was switched from trying to identify the offender by DNA – mass-swabbing of a huge number of potential suspects – to a proactive operation, using 75 officers and technical surveillance in an area identified by analysis of his ‘favourite’ target area. He then, after 17 days, committed a burglary in the area, was observed and arrested.

Levi Bellfield remains one of the UK’s most infamous serial killers – what clues ultimately led to his conviction?

Ultimately it was thorough and painstaking analysis of CCTV images and then mobile phone records. But even though that was what made us suspect Bellfield, the complete lack of scientific evidence meant that there followed more than 3 years of patient case-building, old-fashioned detective work unearthing small pieces of circumstantial evidence which, when added together, formed the compelling case which convicted him.

When you approach a case like Bellfield or Grant as an Investigating Officer what do you look for first?

Most cases of murder and serious crime are spontaneous, so that a quick and large-scale response will often bring quick results. But men like Bellfield and Grant are more cunning, they plan their crimes and try their best to avoid leaving forensic evidence. These are the hardest cases to solve. Ultimately both were caught because they continued to offend and gave me renewed opportunities to identify them. In such cases the SIO has to be patient, not to jump to conclusions or swift action but to consider all the possibilities. The more planning the criminal employs the more we must use against them.

How have advancements in forensics and psychology changed police investigations?

There is no doubt that DNA, and the ever-increasing sensitivity of tests for it, have made most serious crimes easier to solve. In many cases it will give irrefutable proof of presence, and therefore of guilt. But it has made some detectives over-reliant upon it, and this was very evident in Delroy Grant’s case. Psychology has helped interviewing officers, and an understanding of the criminal to a degree. However offender profiling is very rarely as successful or impactful in reality as it is portrayed in fiction.

Why do you think it is important for the public to understand what happens in these horrific crimes?

First it is necessary to enlist the public as our eyes and ears. The worse the crime the more likely the public are to come forward with information. Secondly it is necessary to reinforce the message for the public to take care, to try to minimise the risk to them of becoming victims. Thirdly, it is part of the entire criminal justice process – the public must know why society is incarcerating these criminals for so long, and also be reassured that the police and the system actually does work for them in making the community safer.

What makes killers like Grant and Bellfield get so much press attention compared to others?

Thankfully, it is because they are so rare, and therefore unusual. Their crimes are just so far beyond the comprehension of normal people that they are truly shocking, and as such there will always be a demand for their stories to be told. It is, I suppose, the same reason that they are given so much police attention too.

Are there any unsolved cases across the world that you would be interested in tackling?

Not now, I am too happy being retired! But had the Madeline McCann review come my way before retirement I would have stayed to complete that; it is the greatest mystery of our generation, and despite its obvious difficulty I would have been unable to resist the opportunity to try to help solve it.

Which case from history would you like to work on?

I think some of the great mysteries – Jack the Ripper, Lord Lucan, that sort of case – might be quite easily solved in the modern era, but at the time the detectives never had the scientific help we enjoy these days. What I really would have liked was to have been in charge of the Delroy Grant case much earlier – I think I might have saved a lot of elderly people a lot of pain.


On CMoMM, Mr Sutton has made it clear that he is not in-depth expert on the Madeleine McCann case. However, that is not where his expertise is being deployed.

Here is today’s interview in the Mail Online

Did Madeleine McCann wander off and have an accident? Was she stolen to order? Or was it a burglary gone wrong? Detective lays out theories about her disappearance.

By Katie French

PUBLISHED: 22 April 2017

A former Scotland Yard detective believes he has come up with the five most plausible theories to explain the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

Murder detective Colin Sutton said a trafficking gang could have snatched her to replace a dead child or she could have been snatched by a paedophile. But he theorised the ‘most likely and credible scenario’ for Maddie’s disappearance was a targeted kidnap.

Speaking to The Mirror, he questioned why traffickers didn’t take one of Maddie’s twin baby siblings instead – who would have no memory of their previous life and less physical identity. As the 10th anniversary of Maddie’s disappearance approaches next month, the investigator has analysed multiple theories for a new book. Madeleine was just three went missing from Praia da Luz in Portugal in May 2007, almost a decade ago. He said those closest to Maddie, including her parents, would have been the first line of inquiry for police. But he added he believed Portuguese police appeared make this their only line of investigation early on in the probe.

He said: ‘By concentrating just on that scenario they may have missed tips or other lines that meant going down a completely different investigation route.’

He said: ‘A trafficking ring is more likely than a lone paedophile or paedophile ring.’But unless the order was specifically for a young blonde girl, why her and not one of the twins?

‘Has a young blonde girl died and their parents want to replace her? Or is there another reason for stealing to order?’

While cops initially believed Maddie could have wandered off and been killed, Sutton believes the tot would surely have taken her beloved toy ‘Cuddle Cat’ if she had walked out of the apartment.

He said: ‘Incidents of children wandering off are much more common than a targeted or non-targeted abduction.

‘However Cuddle Cat is a compelling fly in the ointment with this theory.’

He said it was highly unlikely that an opportunist had snatched her, saying that most predatory paedophiles are ‘not interested in pre-school age children’.

He said: ‘The chances of a predatory paedophile just happening across Madeleine and being able to abduct her without being detected are just so remote.

‘I don’t know of any other opportunistic abduction of a girl so young.’

And he also believes it is extremely unlikely that she was killed as part of a burglary gone wrong, as most burglars are drug addicts looking for something small they can easily sell.

He said: ‘Junkies don’t take three-year-old girls.’


3 thoughts on “Madeleine – Colin Sutton on the 10th anniversary

  1. Hi there

    Iv’e been following the case for years and will be in Portugal for the 10th anniversary. next week!

    Do you still show people around the town? Don’t want to be a goul but will come to luz if you are free!



  2. As far as I am concerned, the most important event on the 10th anniversary is happening in the UK. Please see BBC Panorama’s website, which is advertising a special to be broadcast on 3 May 2017.

    I dare say there will be media reporters in Luz on 3 May 2017, but the truth is that it will be a case of which empty can makes the most noise.

    There is not a lot that can be done on the ground here whilst there is an active investigation under way in Oporto. And London. If/when they shut down, the hunting season opens.

    If you decide you want a look around Luz, fine, it requires no more than the ability to walk up and down some hills. You need walking shoes, shorts and sunglasses. It is sun tan weather here. Get back to me if you fancy a day out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.