‘I won’t be a scapegoat for paper boy’s murder’, says Spencer

Bert Spencer shows one of his antique radios to Lincolnshire Free Press reporter Winston Brown at an Armed Forces Celebration Day in Fleet.  Photo (TIM WILSON): SG040716-160TW.
Bert Spencer shows one of his antique radios to Lincolnshire Free Press reporter Winston Brown at an Armed Forces Celebration Day in Fleet. Photo (TIM WILSON): SG040716-160TW.
  • Former ambulanceman living in south Lincolnshire protests innocence over 1978 child killing
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A former ambulanceman now living in south Lincolnshire has denied any involvement in one of Britain’s most infamous unsolved murder cases.

In an exclusive interview with the Lincolnshire Free Press, Bert Spencer (76) protested his innocence of killing newspaper boy Carl Bridgewater (13) who was gunned down at a farm in the West Midlands in September 1978.

Spencer, jailed for life for shooting dead farmer Hubert Wilkes (70) at another farm in the West Midlands in December 1979, was the subject of a documentary broadcast on Channel Four last Sunday in which criminologist Professor David Wilson painted him as “callous, cold-blooded and manipulative”.

THE INTERVIEW

Speaking to the Free Press exactly a week after the programme, Interview with a Murderer, was aired, Spencer said: “We filmed for eight months, in all different locations, and the programme was supposed to be basically about my life.

“It had to include both crimes (the Carl Bridgewater and Hubert Wilkes murders) and it was meant, as far as I knew, to launch the book (Scapegoat for Murder).

I’m happy to serve time for something I did do, but I’m not serving a punishment for something I didn’t do

Bert Spencer about whom the book, Scapegoat for Murder, was written

“But when we finished it all, it seemed to me that Wilson was allowed by Channel Four to preside over the documentary in his own brand of kangaroo court where he presented his farcical allegations.

“It is time the public knew the truth and for people to stop deceiving them by giving the public half-truths.

“After 36 years, I still haven’t had the right of reply which was what the film was supposed to be.

“I had nothing to do with Carl Bridgewater’s death and I put my hands up to the man I was guilty of killing.”

Spencer served a 15-year jail term for killing Mr Wilkes with a sawn-off shotgun during a drunken rage at a farm near to where Carl Bridgewater was murdered in 1978.

“I was drunk at the time through whisky and it will never happen again,” Spencer said.

“I don’t mind my punishment, he (Mr Wilkes) didn’t deserve it but while I was drunk, I thought the wrong thoughts and lost control.

“I’m happy to serve time for something I did do, but I’m not serving a punishment for something I didn’t do.”

A Channel Four spokesman said: “Bert Spencer approached Professor Wilson through his biographer and asked him to interview him and challenge him.

“Spencer willingly agreed for these interviews to be filmed and he was given the opportunity to respond to historical and new accusations made against him. These responses were shown in the film which presented important new testimony and allegations that Staffordshire Police have decided deserve further scrutiny.

“The film was commissioned as a documentary capturing a series of encounters between the man widely suspected of child murder and one of Britain’s leading criminologists, but we could not have foreseen the startling new revelations which have unfolded in the making of this film.

“Professor Wilson has worked with violent offenders, including murderers and serial murderers, for more than 30 years. He is used by police forces across the country to get inside the minds of murderers, as he holds an academic post at Birmingham City University, and helped design and manage the two units housing the 12 most violent men in the country.”

Meanwhile, Detective Chief Superintendent Laurie Whitby-Smith of Staffordshire Police said: “As with all unsolved murder cases, Staffordshire Police conducts periodic reviews to ascertain if there is any new evidence available to take cases forward. This could be new evidence or revisiting existing evidence which may be subject to review based on advancing forensic science.

“Over many years, the Carl Bridgewater case has been the subject of periodic reviews and Staffordshire Police is both aware of, and has seen, the recent documentary which aired on Channel 4.

“We are now considering the content of the documentary to ascertain whether new information is available beyond what we already know.

“This process will inform what, if any, action is to be taken in the future.”