Murder of Colette Aram

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Colette Aram
Born(1967-02-03)3 February 1967
Died30 October 1983(1983-10-30) (aged 16)
Keyworth, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom
Cause of deathStrangulation
OccupationTrainee hairdresser

Colette Aram (3 February 1967 – 30 October 1983) was a 16-year-old British trainee hairdresser who was abducted, raped and strangled as she walked from her home to her boyfriend's house in Keyworth, Nottinghamshire, on 30 October 1983. The murder was the first case to be featured on the BBC television series Crimewatch when it began in June 1984.[1] However, despite receiving over 400 calls as a result of the programme, Nottinghamshire Police were unable to catch the killer, and it was not until 2008 and following advances in forensic technology that police were able to develop a DNA profile of the suspect. Paul Stewart Hutchinson was finally charged with the murder in April 2009.[2] He initially pleaded not guilty, but changed his plea to guilty on 21 December 2009 and was sentenced to life imprisonment on 25 January 2010.[3] Following his sentencing, Crimewatch ran a recap of the murder and investigation on BBC TV on 27 January 2010 exposing several inaccuracies reported in the press about his background, notably a lie about being a psychology graduate.[4]

Disappearance and investigation[edit]

Colette Aram left her home in Normanton Lane, Keyworth, shortly after 8:00 p.m. on 30 October 1983 to walk the 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to her boyfriend's house. She was usually collected by her boyfriend, but his car was off the road. She was last seen at about 8:10 p.m. turning into Nicker Hill where she stopped to talk to a group of friends, and witnesses reported hearing a woman screaming followed by a car driving off at speed shortly afterwards.[5] The alarm was raised when she did not arrive at her boyfriend's house, and after a series of frantic phone calls, police were called at 10:30 p.m. to help family and friends search for Aram. At 9:00 a.m. the following morning her naked body was found dumped in a field about a mile and a half from where she had been abducted. She had been raped and strangled.[6]

Police launched a murder investigation, and on 7 June 1984 the murder of Colette Aram was the first case to be featured on the newly launched BBC television series Crimewatch, a programme which reconstructs major unsolved crimes with a view to gaining information from members of the public. As a result of the appeal, police received 400 tip-offs and were able to eliminate 1,500 suspects from their enquiries. However, the killer remained at large. The case was featured for a second time on Crimewatch's 20th anniversary show in 2004.[7][8]

In 2008, advances in forensic technology allowed Nottinghamshire Police to put together a DNA profile of the killer,[1] and officers appealed for members of the public to come forward with the names of suspects who could then be DNA tested using a mouth swab. A similar appeal had been made in the hunt for the M25 rapist and had proved successful.[6] Police received more than 100 calls from members of the public.[7]

Arrest of suspect[edit]

In June 2008 a young man, Jean-Paul Hutchinson, was arrested on a motoring charge. DNA swabs are routinely taken from anyone who is arrested, and his DNA was a near identical match to the profile of the killer of Colette Aram. However, Jean-Paul was only 20 years old at the time of his arrest and DNA swab, so he had not been born at the time of the murder. The match provided the police with the breakthrough needed to solve the case.[9]

Paul Stewart Hutchinson, father of Jean-Paul and then aged 50, was arrested and charged with the murder in April 2009. Initially, Hutchinson tried to blame the murder on his late brother Gerhard (or Gerard), who had died in January 2008 and been cremated,[10] but DNA tests ruled Gerhard (or Gerard) out, as his DNA was held on an hospital blood sample and didn't match that left at the scene.[11][12] Hutchinson was held on remand after his arrest and entered a plea of not guilty on 5 October,[13] but changed his plea to guilty at a pre-trial hearing on 21 December 2009.[14]

Sentencing and death[edit]

On 25 January 2010, Hutchinson was sentenced to life with a minimum of 25 years at Nottingham Crown Court for the murder of Colette Aram. Aram's mother, Jacqui Kirkby, said Hutchinson's sentencing brought some relief, but the family next needed to know why she was murdered – a question Hutchinson refused to answer.[3]

At 8:00 a.m. on 10 October 2010, 9 months after his sentencing and after 18 months in custody, Hutchinson was found unconscious in his cell at Nottingham Prison. Paramedics were called and tried to resuscitate him.[15] He died at 9:58 a.m. in an ambulance on the way to hospital. It is believed he took an overdose of medication, but a post mortem examination was inconclusive. Hutchinson's daughter told the inquest he had asked his wife to come and meet him in prison the day before he died, but she did not attend the meeting.[16]

See also[edit]

UK cold cases where the offender's DNA is known:


  1. ^ a b Hughes, Mark (30 October 2008). "DNA profile may solve 25-year-old murder case". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 24 December 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  2. ^ "Man remanded in 1983 death case". BBC News. 9 April 2009. Archived from the original on 11 April 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  3. ^ a b "Man sentenced to life for 1983 murder of Colette Aram". BBC News. 25 January 2010. Archived from the original on 28 January 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  4. ^ "How they caught Paul Hutchinson". BBC News. 27 January 2010. Archived from the original on 1 February 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  5. ^ "Torment of murdered girl's family". BBC News. 30 October 2008. Archived from the original on 11 April 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  6. ^ a b Hines, Nico (30 October 2008). "Breakthrough in 25-year-old hunt for Colette Aram killer". London: Times Online. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  7. ^ a b Brown, Jonathan (9 April 2009). "Man charged over first appeal on 'Crimewatch'". The Independent. London. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  8. ^ Quinn, Jennifer (21 June 2004). "Wanted posters for the TV generation". BBC News. Archived from the original on 17 July 2004. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  9. ^ Britten, Nick (25 January 2010). "Colette Aram's killer jailed for life 26 years after her murder". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 13 March 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  10. ^ "Killer of schoolgirl Colette Aram dies in custody". BBC News. 11 October 2010. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  11. ^ Chaytor, Rod (26 January 2010). "Murderer caught by his son's DNA... 26 years on". mirror. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  12. ^ "Man in court for 25-year-old murder". The Guardian. London. 23 April 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  13. ^ "Man denies 1983 teenager murder". BBC News. 5 October 2009. Archived from the original on 28 January 2010. Retrieved 16 December 2009.
  14. ^ "Man admits 1983 teenager murder". BBC News. 21 December 2009. Retrieved 16 December 2009.
  15. ^ "United Kingdom (England)". 25 June 2014. doi:10.1787/9789264196261-30-en. S2CID 149488994. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  16. ^ "Killer of schoolgirl Colette Aram dies in custody". BBC News. 11 October 2010. Archived from the original on 14 October 2010. Retrieved 26 October 2010.