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The Police Investigation

All of the factual information provided here has been taken solely from the summing up by the trial judge Mr Justice Hidden made between 27th October and 2nd November 2000. It was apparent that Mr Justice Hidden was quite unwell and he made many factual errors in his summing up which is almost certain to have affected the juries view of the case. We make no apology for the content of the following text as it was what the jury were given before considering their verdict. Any comments or opinions are entirely those of David Ferguson and his campaign team.

Kent police's investigation into the murder of Susan Kent was named Operation Latvia. At present we have no access to the police's actual investigation log but it became clear that the first thing they did was to appeal for friends, or anyone who knew Susan Kent to come forward to help them with their enquiries. The CCTV footage that showed Susan Kent visiting and then leaving Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre at 10:42am captured Susan's last known sighting. Those that knew her were duly interviewed and a fairly consistent picture of Susan's last movements built up as we have already seen.

Dave's family had gotten wind of the police's appeal on the Friday and knowing that he was at the Medway Cycle Centre, in the High Street in Chatham, telephoned him there. Dave's lodger Paul Smith worked at the shop and took the call and immediately passed the phone over to Dave. Dave wasn't sure who he first spoke to, it may have been his mother or his sister Julia. They told Dave that they had heard that Susan Kent, the lady Dave knew from the Hempstead Valley area, had died. When he realised Susan had died he was gobsmacked and according to those in the shop he went into shock.

His sister Julia told him that the police wanted anyone who knew Susan to come forward and help with the enquiries. Dave telephoned the police from the cycle shop. The police investigation was being run out of Maidstone and the police asked if the shop was private enough for them to speak to him. Dave said it wasn't and arranged for them to meet him later at 106 Port Rise. Dave made no move to hide any of the pornographic material he had in the house.

DC Keith Howland along with DC Hobbs attended 106 Port Rise at 14:35 to meet Dave as arranged. Dave was accompanied by his sister Julia. DC Howland's statement reports that during this interview Dave asked if it was true that Susan had been stabbed. DC Howland was unaware if this had been made public and DC Hobbs fetched a newspaper from his car, with a report on the murder in it, for Dave to read. It is still unclear whether or not the fact that Susan had been stabbed had been made public but in subsequent interviews no facts about Susan's death were disclosed to Dave. Dave signed his statement as being true and gave his understanding that a DNA sample may be required to be given. DC Howland didn't find it surprising that Dave should have asked him if Susan had been stabbed and remarked that if he had felt it significant he would have consulted fellow officers, which he did not.

On the following Wednesday, police staged a complete reconstruction of Susan's movements that day. DS Caroline Nyman took the part of Susan and walked the route to the school taken by Susan and her daughter Jessica and then drove Susan's car to Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre. Despite extensive door to door enquiries and a search of the local area, the murder weapon had still not been recovered.

Dave was asked to attend Chatham Police Station on 12th December 1999 which he did. He was interviewed by DC Phillip Causer from 9:30 until 15:30 when a second statement was completed. Some fifteen minutes later Dave gave a buccal (inner cheek) swab for DNA purposes. Quite astonishingly, and completely against all rules for the protection of evidence integrity, DC Causer put the sample in his jacket pocket and took it home. On the next morning the sample was placed in the fridge of a police station, the name of which was inaudible to the stenographer at the trial. A hair sample was also taken.

That afternoon, whilst Dave was at Chatham police station, DC Richard Tolhurst and DC Cowen were at Port Rise searching the room of Paul Smith. Mr Smith volunteered his fingerprints and gave permission for the search of his room. Mr Smith indicated to police officer's which of the objects were his possessions and which were Dave's. Among items the policemen found were Dave's erotic drawings, books and magazines.

At around 16:15 DC Causer arrived at Port Rise with Dave and DS Bolton in attendance. Dave agreed to the search and at that time was not under arrest. At 16:55, DS Bolton arrested David Ferguson. He said due to my knowledge of the murder of Susan Kent and what I have found in your house I am arresting you on suspicion of the murder of Susan Kent on 24th November 1999. Dave, when cautioned and asked if he understood said this; Yes, I do, but let's be honest why would I have come forward first? Surely if I had done it all I would have to do is get rid of it. Dave was taken to Chatham Police Station arriving at 17:20. DC Tolhurst remained behind and among other things checked that the time on Mr Smiths' alarm clock was correct.

Among the items taken from his possession included a red pendant on a lace chain, a durex from his wallet, his watch and his trainers. Over the next 2 days Dave was subjected to a total of 8 separate interviews with DC's Causer and Tolhurst. His solicitor, Christopher Simpson was present during all of them and Dave was cautioned before each one. Each interview was taped using both audio and video recording machinery. DS Bolton, along with DC Tolhurst, then held a further 8 interviews with Dave during the following 2 days.

DC Causer went to several shops and purchased a pair of handcuffs which became exhibit 13E and 2 sheathed survival type knives, exhibits 4B and 4E.

In the 6 days following Dave's arrest the police removed a number of items from his house. These included a pair of 10 denier black stockings, a knife from a holdall in the kitchen, a scabbard from the kitchen bin, a pair of Cat boots, a contract of possession between Katriona and Dave, various photos on the subject of bondage and a large number of pornographic magazines.

Two days after the murder on 26th November, Tracy King telephoned the police and told them about the stalking incident some 6 or 7 weeks earlier. The police interviewed Ms King and took a statement from her. They took this incident quite seriously and recorded that it could undermine the prosecution case. The incident happened at the same shopping centre. Ms King is similar in appearance to Susan. The prosecution feared that the defence could allege that the man described by Ms King, who looked nothing like Dave, could be the murderer of Susan Kent.

Following Ms King's call, the police became aware of reports of a man with a briefcase trying to get into the cars of women at shopping centres or supermarkets. They issued a plea to all neighbouring forces and eventually got replies from forces as far afield as Newcastle. These reports were followed up and nothing appeared to come of them. Kent police dismissed the reports as an "urban myth".

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