For more than 47 years, Dennis McGrory got away with murder. But last week justice was finally delivered: the pensioner was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing 15-year-old Jacqui Montgomery, in Islington, north London. His conviction was in large measure due to the work of Metropolitan police forensic scientists and detectives who never gave up on the case, which dates back to June 1975.
So it was with Zafar Iqbal, who strangled his wife, Naziat Khan, in front of their young daughters in Norbury, south-west London, in 2001. Iqbal fled to Pakistan but Scotland Yard, working with other law enforcement agencies, tracked him down and eventually brought him back to the UK. He was jailed in December.
This is the best of the Met: never letting up, pursuing criminals, using a range of techniques to solve the most complex of crimes. Over the years, I’ve met officers who’ve carried out investigations like these; their professionalism, dedication to duty and integrity have always stood out. Which is why I am struggling to understand how a police force which is capable of doing so much good can get it so catastrophically wrong, as it did with David Carrick: the police officer who has admitted dozens of rape and sexual offences against 12 women over two decades.
How could the Met have hired him, in 2001, given that it had investigated alleged offences against his ex-partner the previous year? Why did the force fail – repeatedly – to act on information that he was a domestic abuse perpetrator? What was the thinking behind the decision, just 18 months ago, not to suspend him when he was accused of rape?
Carrick’s is an appalling case; so many opportunities to stop him were missed.