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.
Susan Kent married John Kent in 1987 and they had 2 children, Julian and Jessica born in 1989 and 1992 respectively. They moved into number 26 Birch Grove in March 1990. Susan did some part-time child minding and worked as a dinner lady at the nearby Hempstead Junior School. She had been divorced from John, but he kept in contact with the children.
Stephen Bittlestone, a former boyfriend, rang Susan Kent at around 7am on the morning of Wednesday 24th November 1999. He wanted to arrange to meet her for breakfast, at the Savacentre in Sainsbury's at the Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre at about 9:15am. The shopping centre was less than a half a mile away from Susan's home.
Before she left the house that morning she saw her son Julian into his taxi to take him to his special needs school in Gravesend. Lance Ridden was the regular driver and he arrived at 7:55am. He said Susan was wearing a tracksuit and a button up blouse. They chatted and he left with Julian and 2 other children.
She rang Fiona Ashdown at about 8:20am to confirm she would be at work that day. The postman personally delivered some letters to her at around 8:40 to 8:45am. He remembers her wearing olive green army trousers, a light cream coloured blouse and a light coloured cardigan. Susan rang her mother, Wendy Lamb at about 8:45am but spoke to her father instead. Susan would speak to her mother every morning so Mrs Lamb returned the call at around 11:30am. Since she got no reply she assumed that Susan was running late and had left for work.
The CCTV system at the shopping centre showed Susan's movements quite clearly that morning. She is seen arriving at 8:50 by car and crossing the car park. She bumped into Iris Spencer at 8:55 and they talked briefly about Christmas Shopping. Iris only knew her because her grand-daughter attended the same school as Susan's daughter Jessica. Susan bought some small Christmas items in Savacentre and was served by Lorraine Pemble. Her till receipt was time stamped at 9:17am
Susan and Stephen Bittlestone met and had breakfast. The receipt for the breakfast meals is timed at 9:24am. According to Mr Bittlestone he expected to see her the next day and that they were planning a future outing. They part after breakfast. Susan is caught on camera in various shops and is seen by Helen Elliott, a cashier at the Alliance and Leicester building society where Susan pays in a cheque for the sum of £46.75. Lorraine Watts, who also knew Susan from the school, saw in her Argos, where she worked, sometime between 10 and 11am. CCTV cameras show her car leaving the shopping centre at 10:42am and turning right to head home. This is the last known sighting of Susan Kent alive.
John Pullen lived diagonally opposite Susan Kent in Birch Grove and was awoken at 8am that day by the sounding of Lance Ridden's taxi horn when he arrived to take Julian to school. He looked out of the window and saw Susan and Lance talking. This was the last time that Mr Pullen saw her. Between 10:45 and 11:15am he took his car out of the garage and could not remember if any other car apart from Susan's was on her driveway; she drove a dark blue Vauxhall Corsa. When he got back between 12:20 and 12:50pm there was not any other car parked outside or on her driveway.
Another lady who knew Susan from the school was Elaine Marriott. She was a part-time dinner lady at Hempstead Infants School and would routinely walk past Susan's house on the way to work. If she saw her pass Susan would come out and talk to her. That morning she left home at about 11:40 to 11:45am and noticed Susan's car on the driveway and nothing out of the ordinary. After work Ms Marriott returned the same way at around 1:15pm but couldn't remember any cars parked outside Susan's house. She again left home at 3:55pm to pick her daughter Emma up from school and all seemed quiet in Birch Grove. Yet when she returned with her daughter Ms Marriott heard crying which she realised was Susan's children who were sitting in a red car talking to a young man squatting next to it. A black and white taxi was parked next to it. She saw a man and a woman come out and go to their car. Assuming nothing was out of the ordinary she continued on home. Andrew Pymm was a builder who was working on his cousins central heating system that day. He arrived at about 3pm and went to his car on maybe 3 occasions to fetch tools but saw nothing amiss at Susan's house opposite.
Whenever Susan was unable to pick Jessica up from school, Susanne Desson the school secretary would ring her mother in law Iris Kent. Ms Desson first rang Susan at 3:05pm and then again some 5 minutes later. She got no reply and the ansafone kicked in both times. Iris had spoken to Susan the day before, the Tuesday, and rang that Wednesday at about 2pm and left a message when the ansaphone came on. Iris Kent got the phone call from Ms Desson at 3:10. She then drove to Susan's house and knocked on the door several times without a reply. Everything appeared normal so she carried on, by foot, and picked Jessica up sometime between 3:45 and 3:55pm.
When Iris and Jessica returned they saw Lance Ridden's taxi with Julian in it parked behind her own car. Mr Ridden had arrived back between 3:55 and 4:05pm. It was getting dark and there were no lights on in the house. He knocked on the door and after getting no reply went back to his car and drove the route to the school which he had done on occasions when Susan wasn't in and she was walking Jessica back. He saw Iris and told her no one was in. They discovered the rear door open and went in. Lance Ridden followed Iris Kent upstairs. Iris entered Susan's bedroom first, turning on the light.
Susan Kent's body was lying, face down, on the bed. She was naked from the waist down except for a pair of black stockings. There was a lot of blood. Mr Ridden heard the children coming up the stairs and ushered them back down. On seeing Mr Ridden in such a flustered state Andrew Pymm came across to find out what was wrong. Lance Ridden asked Mr Pymm to call an ambulance and then asked the lady who lived next door to look after the children. After calling the ambulance, Mr Pymm, who had some first aid training, went upstairs. He felt Susan's heel, which was cold. He then felt for Susan's pulse, but to no avail. Her upper body was covered with a towel or dressing gown. He didn't touch anything else and soon after an ambulance woman arrived with the police.
The ambulance woman, Karen Singleton, arrived at 4:16pm and went upstairs to Susan's bedroom. The body was lying face down with her hands secured behind her back by handcuffs. There was no pulse and her hands were white. She ascertained that Susan had sustained cuts to her throat and chest which had left large areas of blood staining in those areas on the bed clothes. She and her colleagues cleared the house and the police cordoned off the area when they arrived. The first police officer on the scene was PC Miller who arrived just after 4:20pm. He began a scene log of the house. The SOCO Andrew Drewman arrived at the scene at 17:48pm.
Dr David Rouse, the pathologist, arrived at the scene at 11pm. He took a number of samples which he labelled and identified by the prefix DAR and a unique number in each case. Each of these was handed to Mr Drewman. Of most significance were the external anal and external vaginal swabs identified as DAR/6 and DAR/8. He began his post mortem examination at 0:35am the following morning, Thursday 25th at the Medway accident centre in Gillingham. Susan had had her throat cut and had suffered a total of 7 stab wounds to the chest. She had also incurred other injuries to her head, neck, nipples, right thigh and the openings of the anus and vagina caused by a blunt object. Dr Rouse said that any sharp blade with a serrated edge could have caused the injuries and that death was probably caused by the neck wounds and the severing of one of the jugular veins.