Robert Napper

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Robert Napper
Robert Clive Napper

(1966-02-25) 25 February 1966 (age 53)
Other namesThe Green Chain Rapist
The Plumstead Ripper
Span of crimes
15 July 1992–November 1993
CountryUnited Kingdom
Date apprehended
May 1994

Robert Clive Napper (born 25 February 1966) is a British serial murderer. He has been convicted of two murders, one manslaughter, two rapes and two attempted rapes. He was remanded in Broadmoor Hospital indefinitely on 18 December 2008 for the manslaughter of Rachel Nickell on 15 July 1992. He was previously convicted of the 1993 double murder of Samantha Bisset and her daughter Jazmine.[1]

Napper has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia as well as Asperger's syndrome.[1]

Early life[edit]

Robert Napper is the eldest child of Brian Napper, a driving instructor, and his wife Pauline.[1] Born in Erith, southeast London, Napper was brought up in nearby Plumstead. His background was troubled and dysfunctional. The marriage of his parents was violent and Napper witnessed violent attacks on his mother. His parents divorced when he was 9 and he and his siblings (two brothers and a sister) were placed in foster care and underwent psychiatric treatment.[2] The psychiatric counselling Napper had at the Maudsley Hospital in Camberwell lasted for six years.

At age 13, Napper underwent a personality change after a family friend sexually assaulted him on a camping holiday. The offender was jailed,[3] but Napper became introverted, obsessively tidy and reclusive, according to his mother.[2] He also bullied his siblings and spied on his sister while she was naked.

Criminal activities[edit]

In 1986, Napper first came to police attention after being convicted of an offence with an airgun.[2] In October 1989,[4] police had rejected information conveyed in a phonecall from Napper's mother that her son had admitted to perpetrating a rape on Plumstead Common. No case apparently matched the evidence. However, it emerged at the time of Napper's second conviction, that a rape of a 30-year-old woman, in front of her children, eight weeks earlier, had been reported to have occurred in a house which backed on to Plumstead Common. At this point, Pauline Napper broke off all contact with her son.[2]

On 15 July 1992 on Wimbledon Common, Napper stabbed the young mother Rachel Nickell forty-nine times in front of her son Alex, then aged two, who clung on to his mother's body begging her to wake up. Napper was questioned about unsolved attacks on other women during the year, but was eliminated from inquiries.[5]

In November 1993, in the Bisset home in Plumstead, Napper stabbed 27-year-old Samantha Bisset in her neck and chest, killing her, and then sexually assaulted[6] and smothered her four-year-old daughter, Jazmine Jemima Bisset.[4][7] In her sitting room, Napper mutilated Samantha's body, taking away parts of her body as a trophy. The crime scene was reportedly so grisly that the police photographer assigned to the case was forced to take two years' leave after witnessing it.[4]

After a fingerprint belonging to Napper was recovered from Samantha's flat, he was arrested, and charged with the murders of Samantha and Jazmine Bisset, in May 1994. Napper was convicted at the Old Bailey in October 1995. He also admitted two rapes and two attempted rapes at this time.[8] From the time of the first Old Bailey trial, he has been held at Broadmoor. In December 1995 he was questioned about Nickell's death but denied any involvement.[5]

Napper is also believed to be the "Green Chain Rapist", who carried out at least 70 savage attacks across south-east London over a four-year period ending in 1994. The earliest of the 'Green Chain' rapes have been linked to Napper, and were those he admitted to in 1995.[2] Napper is known to have kept detailed records of the sites of potential and actual attacks on women.[9] During the investigation into the rapes, Napper had been eliminated due to his 6' 2" height, as detectives had decided to exclude anyone over 6' based on the description of a 5' 7" rapist. However there are conflicting witness reports of the rapist's height and Napper walked with a stoop. [10] [11]

The investigation to find Nickell's murderer resulted in the attempted prosecution of an innocent man, Colin Stagg, until, in 2004, advances in DNA profiling revealed Napper's connection to the case. On 18 December 2008, Napper was convicted of the manslaughter of Nickell on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He also admitted to four other attacks on women.[8] Napper was sentenced to be incarcerated indefinitely at Broadmoor Hospital for the criminally insane. In his summing up at the Old Bailey, Mr Justice Griffiths Williams said to Napper: "You are on any view a very dangerous man".[12]


  1. ^ a b c Sean O'Neill and Adam Fresco "Inside the mind of Robert Napper", The Times, 18 December 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e Sandra Laville "Nickell murder: Missed clues that allowed Napper to kill again", The Guardian, 18 December 2008.
  3. ^ Richard Edwards, Murray Wardrop and David Millward "Rachel Nickell: Profile of killer Robert Napper", Daily Telegraph, 18 December 2008.
  4. ^ a b c Shenai Raif "Rachel's killer caught by new DNA techniques", Press Association report reproduced on The Independent website, 18 December 2008
  5. ^ a b "Rachel Nickell's killer finally brought to justice", The Independent, 18 December 2008
  6. ^ Richard Edwards Rachel Nickell: Mistakes allowed Robert Napper to kill Samantha and Jazmine Bisset", Daily Telegraph, 18 December 2008.
  7. ^ Births and Deaths England and Wales 1984-2006
  8. ^ a b Sarah White "Killer who slipped through the net", BBC News, 18 December 2008.
  9. ^ Richard Edwards, et al. "Rachel Nickell: Profile of killer Robert Napper", The Telegraph, 18 December 2008
  10. ^ Edwards, Richard (18 Dec 2008). "Rachel Nickell: The missed opportunities to catch killer Robert Napper". The Telgraph. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  11. ^ Laville, Sandra (18 December 2008). "Rachel Nickell case: Missed clues that allowed Robert Napper to kill again". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  12. ^ Sandra Laville, et al. "Rachel Nickell killing: Serial rapist Robert Napper pleads guilty", The Guardian, 18 December 2008

Further reading[edit]

  • Laurence J. Alison, Marie Eyre: Killer in the Shadows: The Monstrous Crimes of Robert Napper. Pennant Books 2009, ISBN 978-1-906015-49-7.
  • Kevin Brewer: Psychology and Crime. Heinemann Educational Publishers 2000, ISBN 978-0-435-80653-8.
  • Paul Britton: The Jigsaw Man. Corgi Books 1998, ISBN 978-0-552-14493-3.
  • Colin Evans: A Question of Evidence: The Casebook of Great Forensic Controversies, from Napoleon to O.J. Wiley 2002, ISBN 978-0-471-44014-7.
  • Mike Fielder: The Murder of Rachel Nickell. John Blake 2000, ISBN 978-1-85782-338-7.
  • Alex Handscombe: Letting Go: A true story of murder, loss and survival by Rachel Nickell’s son. Harper Element 2017, ISBN 978-0008144296.
  • André Handscombe: The Last Thursday in July. Century 1996 / Arrow 1997, ISBN 978-0-09-917512-4.
  • David Kessler: Rachel Nickell, House of Solomon Ltd, 2001, ISBN 978-1-904037-03-3.
  • Keith Pedder: The Rachel Files, John Blake 2002, ISBN 978-1-904034-30-8.
  • Keith Pedder: Murder on the Common: The Secret Story of the Murder That Shocked a Nation. John Blake 2003, ISBN 978-1-84454-057-0.
  • Colin Stagg, David Kessler: Who Really Killed Rachel? Greenzone Publishing 1999, ISBN 978-0-9582027-2-5.
  • Colin Stagg, David Kessler: The Lizzie James Conspiracy. House of Solomon 2001, ISBN 978-1-904037-00-2.
  • Colin Stagg, Ted Hynds: Pariah: Colin Stagg. Pennant Publishing 2007, ISBN 978-1-906015-10-7.
  • Brent E. Turvey: Criminal Profiling: An Introduction to Behavioral Evidence Analysis Academic Press 2002, ISBN 978-0-12-705041-6.

External links[edit]