Hero Policeman Remembered
TEN years ago on Sunday, Chingford policeman Sgt Alan
King was brutally stabbed to death as he tackled two burglars. He is
thought to be the first and only police officer to be murdered on duty
in Waltham Forest in the 20th century.
The long-serving police officer, who had joined the
force in 1969, left behind a wife and four children. His murderer,
Nicholas Vernage, 26, was seen smiling and sneering in court as he
listened to the prosecution relay a shocking account of his month-long
spree of burglary and killing.
When the judge handed down five life sentences for
murder and other violent offences, the cop killer, who had previously
boasted of his war against the police, insouciantly wished him a "Merry
The killing of Sgt King sent shockwaves throughout
Waltham Forest. Members of the public stacked flowers outside Chingford
and Walthamstow police stations. Chief Superintendent Stainsby, who knew
Sgt King when he was a cadet, said: "When you look at his career profile,
it has the stamp of someone who always wanted to be a police officer. "Here
is a guy who could have turned his hand to anything, There is not a
thing he would not have measured himself up against. "The tragic
circumstances of his death sum up the man. "He saw something going on
and got out of his car to deal with it without a thought for anything
Vernage, of All Saints Tower, Leyton, first landed on
the wrong side of the law when he was arrested and imprisoned for a
series of robberies in 1987. People who came into contact with him
during this time say that he entered prison a tearaway, but left a
changed man with an obsessive hatred of the police.
He soon started a month-long crime spree that would
end with the killing of Sgt King. He burgled a house in Woodford Green
on October 28 and struck again in the same area on November 14.
A week later he went to the home of his girlfriend,
Lorna Bogle, in West Avenue Road, Walthamstow. Her "crime" was not
having written to him during his time in prison. Wearing a balaclava and
armed with a knife, Mr Vernage murdered his girlfriend by stabbing her
21 times in the hands, back and chest.
Three days later he struck again. Javaid Iqbal, 37, a
part-time mini-cab driver, of Napier Road, Leytonstone, arrived home
from work to find Mr Vernage burgling his flat. Mr Iqbal, a black belt
judo expert, made the fatal mistake of trying to tackle him. He died
from a single stab wound to the chest.
The killing spree ended with the murder of Sgt King.
Vernage was carrying out a burglary in Higham Hill Road, Walthamstow,
when he was disturbed by Sgt King. As the home beat officer tried to
investigate, he was stabbed eight times by Vernage and subsequently died.
Vernage, who kept a picture of police officers in his
house which he regularly attacked with a screwdriver, was arrested when
two other policemen spotted his car in Norwood, south London, on the
same day. They, too were stabbed, but survived.
Sgt King would have been 51 this year. After his
death his wife, Monica, paid a moving tribute. "He was a good copper and
a professional in everything he did. "He was a people's policeman and
loved being out in the community and not stuck behind a desk. "He died
doing the job he loved."
Widow says killer deserved execution: For one of
those bereaved, jailing Nicholas Vernage for life was not enough
By Terry Kirby - Independent.co.uk
Tuesday, 8 December
AS NICHOLAS VERNAGE last night
began a combined five life sentences for three murders and two attempted
murders, the widow of one of his victims, Sergeant Alan King, said she
believed he should have been executed.
Monica King, who attended every day
of Vernage's trial at the Old Bailey, told a press conference afterwards
that she would never be able to forgive her husband's killer. She said:
'He is still alive and my husband is dead.'
'I know that nothing can ever bring
Alan back but for me no sentence that our courts are allowed to impose
could ever be enough,' she added. Asked if she believed in capital
punishment, she replied 'Yes.' But Mrs King said she did not believe
police officers should be armed.
She believed Vernage was also
responsible for the deaths of both her parents. Her mother, 77, died in
May from a long-term illness and her father, aged 75, in September from
a heart attack. Mrs King said she was convinced their deaths were
brought about by the trauma of his murder.
Mrs King said she had clung to the
one positive outcome of her husband's murder. 'The one good thing is the
knowledge that so many members of the public are 100 per cent behind our
police and feel horror that this kind of thing can happen. All that any
of us can now do is to try and rebuild our lives as best we can and hope
that there proves to be some truth in the saying that time heals.'
Sgt King, 41, a policeman for 22
years, died when he confronted Vernage in Walthamstow, north- east
London, last October. The couple had been married for 19 months; both
had grown-up children from previous marriages.
Before attacking Sgt King, Vernage
had killed two other people the previous week; later the same day, he
stabbed two other police officers in south London, PCs John Jenkinson
and Simon Castrey. Both are still off work from their injuries.
Describing the stabbing yesterday,
PC Jenkinson said: 'I knew I was dying - quite simply from the wound
inflicted I knew unless I received hospital treatment very quickly I
would be dead.' If Vernage had not been caught 'heaven knows what he
would have carried on doing'.
Detective Superintendent Douglas
Harvey, who led the inquiry, said Vernage was one of 'the most
frightening and dangerous men I have come across'. He added: 'I don't
think he just wanted to kill police officers, he was anxious for
confrontation wherever he could find it. He wanted to become a lifer.'
Officer fell victim to robber
with a hatred of police: Terry Kirby traces the violent career of a
habitual criminal who realised his ambition to 'kill a cop'
By Terry Kirby - Independent.co.uk
Tuesday, 8 December
FROM THE moment Nicholas Vernage
was released from prison last October, it was inevitable that his
ambition to 'kill a cop' would be realised. It was the unfortunate fate
of Sergeant Alan King to be the first officer he encountered.
Sgt King, 41, a patrolling officer
from Chingford in north-east London, had confronted him, unaware of his
hatred of police and the brief orgy of murder and burglary on which he
Vernage stabbed the officer
repeatedly in the head, neck and chest. As Sgt King crawled along the
pavement, Vernage shouted: 'I am going to finish him off,' before
plunging the knife in again.
Vernage, 27, of Hackney, east
London, was a habitual criminal who specialised in violent robbery and
burglaries, usually brandishing a knife, and had convictions for
violence and robbery.
In July 1987, he was convicted of
conspiring to rob and burgle north London pubs and sentenced to seven
years; John Vernage, his elder brother, was jailed for 17 years for
raping a publican's wife and a barmaid during their robberies. In prison,
Vernage developed a hatred of police officers. It was said that if he
saw a police programme on television he would shout obscenities and
threats, and if he saw a photograph of a police officer in a newspaper
he would thump down on it in a stabbing motion.
He allegedly told fellow inmates: 'All
I want is to kill all coppers. Whatever police officer gets in my way
they are going to get it. I'll put them to sleep, I want a right war
with the police.'
Within days of his release last
year, Vernage had burgled four houses, armed himself with a heavy lock-knife
with a 3 1/2in blade and stolen a Ford Cortina. On 21 November, he burst
into the home of Lorna Bogle, 21, a former girlfriend. After accusing
her of deserting him because she had not visited him in prison, he
stabbed her 16 times, killing her, and stole cash, jewellery and a
Three days later, he burgled the
home of Javaid Iqbal, 34, a mini- cab driver in Leytonstone, east London.
when Mr Iqbal surprised him, Vernage stabbed him four times and stole
cash and electrical equipment, before leaving him dying on his doorstep.
At both scenes, Vernage left the prints of his training shoes in blood.
Vernage then teamed up with an old
acquaintance, Peter Grenfell, 29, a petty crook and furniture shop
assistant, and together they burgled another house.
On 28 November, the men were
staying at the flat of a friend in Walthamstow. Vernage, worried that
the stolen goods in the car outside would attract a 'light-fingered
local' decided to bring them into the flat. He was spotted by Sgt King.
The officer boxed the Cortina in
and approached Vernage, who turned on him and stabbed him four times in
the front and four times in the back. Sgt King flagged down a passing
motorist and was trying to get into the passenger seat when Vernage ran
back down the road to stab the officer again. Sgt King died in hospital.
Grenfell told police that he
watched Vernage stabbing Sgt King 'like a lunatic'. Grenfell said: 'He
was laughing about it. He thought it was funny. I've had my own
psychiatric problems but I couldn't make this madman out.'
The following morning they drove to
south London, parked in a road in Thornton Heath and went to sleep in
the car, packed with stolen property and with Vernage's jeans, soaked in
Sgt King's blood, in the boot.
When two patrolling officers,
Constables John Jenkinson, 26, and Simon Castrey, 27, checked the car,
Vernage lashed out, stabbing PC Jenkinson in the neck and his colleague
five times in the neck and face.
PC Jenkinson, believing he was
dying from his wounds, hung on to Vernage's car keys, preventing his
attacker's escape in the car.
Thirty minutes later, police dogs
following a trail of blood found Vernage crouching in a garden shed, his
knife raised and yelling 'You'll get some of this.' He was hit with a
truncheon and disarmed.
While awaiting trial, Vernage
pulled out the metal frame used to hold his injured arm in position and
hid it as a possible weapon. Police believe he planned to use another
piece of metal from the sole of his trainers to escape. He also covered
his body in baby oil to make capture difficult.
After his arrest, Vernage scrawled
on the cell wall at Edmonton Police station, where he was being held: 'Sgt
King was killed, stabbed to death in red, boiling and unbearable blood.'