Interview with a Murderer (Channel 4)
In this one-off documentary, criminologist Professor David Wilson conducts a series of revealing interviews with convicted murderer Bert Spencer, the man never charged with, yet widely suspected of killing paperboy Carl Bridgewater in 1978 – a crime he has always denied.
With a team of researchers from Birmingham City University, Professor Wilson re-examines the evidence surrounding both the murder Spencer was convicted for and the one he has never been charged with and always denied - challenging Spencer's account in direct and often fraught exchanges. He gathers testimony from some of those closest to Spencer in 1978 which Professor Wilson believes cast doubt on his alibi on 19 September 1978, the day Carl died.
Carl was shot in the head at point-blank range whilst visiting a farm on his round. The police believe he unwittingly disturbed a burglary and as an eye-witness to a crime was executed. The biggest police manhunt for a child killer seen since the Moors Murders ensued. The crime is one of Britain’s most infamous unsolved murder cases, not only because it involved the brutal cold-blooded killing of a young boy but because the case became embroiled in controversy when the four armed robbers who had been sent to prison for Carl’s murder, the ‘Bridgewater Four’ had their convictions overturned some twenty years later when it was uncovered that one of their confessions had been forged by the police.
Attention returned to the man many had previously believed to be a suspect – local ambulance driver Hubert ‘Bert’ Spencer – whose car matched the description of a car seen near the property where Carl was murdered, on the same day. Shortly after the Bridgewater Four were convicted, Spencer was convicted of murder for the shooting of his friend Hubert Wilkes at point-blank range at a neighbouring farm to the one at which Carl was murdered. This incident had several striking similarities to the murder of Carl.
He was released from prison in 1995 after serving 15 years for the Wilke’s murder but has always vociferously maintained his innocence in connection to Carl’s death. After collaborating with a crime writer on a new book about himself, Spencer chose to speak to Professor Wilson to address the suspicions that continue to surround him and to attempt to prove his innocence.
Professor Wilson, who has worked with the some of the most violent prisoners in the country presents his findings and his impressions of Spencer, following many hours in his company, directly to him which culminates in a blistering exchange at the end of the film.