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In his 30 years on one of Europe’s biggest police forces, former Met police detective Steven Keogh estimates he has seen more than a hundred dead bodies.
As a murder investigator, it is something you get used to. But, in a job that he says gave him regular violent nightmares, the one thing he never got used to was the sight of dead children, something which he says reminded him of the evil that exists in the world.
Steve, 50, has shared his experience as a detective for the Met in a new book published just a week after he stepped down from the force.
The book – Murder Investigation Team: How Scotland Yard Really Catches a Killer – is a forensic look at the steps Met detectives take to solve the most serious crimes.
The former Detective Inspector worked on investigations which included the 7/7 bombings and some of the most horrific murders the capital has seen in the last decade such as the murder of three-year-old Daniel Evbuomwan who was killed by his uncle Ben Igbinedion for wetting the bed in 2013.
Here, he speaks to MailOnline about what it was really like to investigate murders for Scotland Yard and how it’s nothing like you see on TV…
An ex-Met detective who spent 30 years on the force and investigated some of London’s most high-profile crimes, including the 7/7 bombings (pictured), has written a book which draws on his most memorable investigations to share what it was like
Former Met Police murder detective Steven Keogh (left, when he joined the force in 1992 and, right, now) has written a book detailing his time on the force and shedding light on what a real murder investigation involved for the teams at Scotland Yard
One of the more recent murders investigated by DI Keogh was the death of Ayub Hassan, 17, who was fatally knifed in the heart behind a Waitrose supermarket in Kensington, in 2019. A 15-year-old was found guilty of the drug gang-related murder
‘Gang crime has always plagued London but the victims are getting younger’
‘It was one of the most horrific crime scenes I had ever seen’
Pictured: Killers Claudio Lamponi (L) and Massimo Manai (R)
Throughout his book, Steve uses anonymised case files – he did not want to be seen profiting off victims – to exemplify how detectives approach murder investigations.
To show how open-minded detectives must be when they first arrive at a crime scene, Steve talks about a double murder at a flat in West Norwood, south London, in October 2009.
The details relate to the killings of Donald MacPherson, 60, and flatmate Luciano Schiano, 49, who between them suffered more than 100 stab wounds in what Steve describes as ‘one of the most horrific crime scenes’ he has ever seen.
The former detective recalls the questions that ran through his head as he arrived at the flat where the bodies were found.
‘I always tries to put myself into the position of he victim,’ he writes. ‘It helped me get a better understanding of the scene. A picture of their last moments. I found this scene chilling.’
Mr MacPherson, originally from Scotland, suffered 80 stab wounds and had his face smashed with an iron as he fought back.
Mr Schiano, 49, suffered 26 knife wounds and blood evidence showed he had tried to pull himself along the floor before succumbing to his injuries.
Steve takes readers through the varying hypotheses detectives had to consider with little physical evidence of the attackers immediately available at the scene.
Detectives discovered Mr Schiano had had a falling out with friends earlier that year after he made a pass at one of their girlfriends – a motive which became the focus of the investigation.
Mr MacPherson was an innocent victim who had not been known to the killers.
Naples-born Claudio Lamponi, 30, of Norwood, and Massimo Manai, 41, of no fixed address but originally from Cagliari, Sardinia, were found guilty of the murders at the Old Bailey in 2010.
‘This was achieved by firstly following broad hypotheses while the information was limited and then becoming more specific as more details came to light,’ Steve writes.
During his time investigating murders, Keogh, who held the rank of Detective Inspector, said that gang crime made up the majority of his cases but that while victims were typically men in their late teens and 20s at the start of his career, in the past few years, they seem to be getting younger.
He told MailOnline: ‘Certainly the types of murders I dealt with the most had some kind of link to gang crime. It might not necessarily be gang on gang but related to the drugs they were using.
‘There is a lot of gang crime [in London] and I always found it quite scary – just the level of violence, for no reason, I can just never get my head around that – how they can do what they can do. Life just seems so cheap sometimes.’
Steve said that although much is made about the rise in violence in the capital, to him it feels as though it has always been prevalent.
He added: ‘I was in south London [when I started], in Lewisham.
‘There’s always been beef between gangs in Southwark and gangs in Lambeth and that’s been going on for years. And all that’s happened is the younger ones that are coming through are just continuing the same. It’s a never-ending cycle.
‘It’s often tied to drug dealing and there’s a lot of money in drug dealing. So where there’s a lot of money, there’s a lot of violence because they’re protecting their interests and that’s not going to go away any time soon.
‘It’s been going on for generations. It will continue to go on and I don’t know what the answer is.’
One thing Steve feels has changed is the age of the victims involved, with boys as young as 14 having lost their lives to knife violence this year, something which he says is the hardest part of the job as a murder detective.
‘If I think back to when I was first dealing with gang members, they seemed to be in their late teens and 20s but now you’re looking at 14-year-olds.
‘I suppose it’s natural that if knife culture is so prevalent now, the kids are going to start seeing it and they will start getting younger and younger. I don’t remember in the past kids this young going round stabbing each other.’
He added: ‘I will never get used to seeing dead children. That’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. I’ve probably seen 100 plus dead bodies and it’s always the children I can remember.
‘It was comforting to know that I’m not that dehumanised that I can just watch anybody’s death and not be affected by it because I was affected by the death of children – without a doubt.
‘I can still see their bodies if I was to close my eyes and think about it. I don’t think it’s an unhealthy way to carry it – it’s just a reminder of the evil people can do and I’m glad that it did affect me. I’d be worried about myself if it didn’t.’
Steve’s gut feeling that those involved in violent crime in London are getting younger is in line with the latest statistics which show the capital is on track to see the highest number of teenage killings on record.
So far this year, 28 teenagers have been killed as a result of violent crime in London and the city is in danger of equalling the record 29 young lives lost to violent crime in 2008.
The highest total in recent years was 27 deaths in 2017 and Scotland Yard has warned this year’s total could surpass 30 for the first time as it urged young people to put down their knives.
Ayub Hassan, known as A1, was fatally knifed in the heart behind a Waitrose supermarket in Kensington, west London, in 2019
One of the most high profile murders investigated by DI Keogh was the deaths of Sian Blake and her two sons who were killed by Arthur Simpson-Kent in December 2015. Pictured: Forensic officers on scene at their home where they were found buried
In his book, Steve describes discovering evidence of extreme violence at Sian Blake’s home in Erith after she was killed with her two sons by Simpson-Kent. He was handed a whole life sentence after being extradited from Ghana where he had fled
‘Luther is the worst show on television when it comes to murder investigations’
One of the biggest motivating factors pushing Steve to write his book was to dispel the clichés that surround police detective work and are perpetuated on some of the country’s most popular TV shows.
Some of the misconceptions he dismisses in his book include the fact that senior detectives are the ones running round in the field and the use of giant notice boards to map out investigations.
How police used phone evidence to catch a killer on the run in Ghana
Arthur Simpson-Kent brutally murdered his girlfriend – EastEnders actress Sian Blake – and sons, Zachary, eight, and Amon, four, (pictured) before burying the bodies in the garden
Throughout his book, Steve takes readers through the different types of evidence which help detectives establish what has happened.
Discussing how phone evidence can be crucial to an investigation, Steve shares details of a violent triple murder in December 2015.
Arthur Simpson-Kent brutally murdered his girlfriend – EastEnders actress Sian Blake – and sons, Zachary, eight, and Amon, four, before burying the bodies in the garden of their home in Erith, Kent, and fleeing to Ghana.
The victims were reported missing by worried family members and before he fled the country, Simpson-Kent told police she had take their sons to stay with a friend.
As part of the probe, police searched the home and made a shocking discovery under the freshly painted walls.
‘Blood, a lot of blood. It was in the kitchen and, most distressingly, in the children’s bedroom. I can’t think of anything worse than that scene,’ Steve writes.
‘Two young boys in the place they should feel most safe. In their beds, surrounded by their toys, with the people they trusted most in the world. But that trust was shattered by their father.’
Detectives soon found the three victims in a shallow grave at the back of the house with horrific injuries that ‘painted a picture of the most violent ending’ and a manhunt was launched to find Simpson-Kent.
In his book, Steve says detectives first looked at financial records and saw he had withdrawn £400 suggesting he had gone on the run and it was his phone records which set them ‘on the path to finding him’.
Police could see the killer had called a friend who, enquiries revealed, had booked a flight to Ghana for him.
Working with authorities in Ghana, Simpson-Kent was eventually found and extradited back to the UK where he was handed a whole life sentence for his crimes after telling a psychiatrist ‘something just snapped’ when he learned of Ms Blake’s plans to leave with the children.
He said: ‘Most people get that TV shows are supposed to be entertainment – I don’t think it’s unhelpful [to what we do].
‘The reality is if you were to have a television programme that looked at how murders were really investigated, it would be the most boring show on TV.
‘Luther is the worst programme I’ve seen in relation to murder investigations because you’ve got a DCI running around.
‘The DCIs in reality never leave their office. They might go and visit the scene once but that’s about it. Murders are solved by being methodical, thorough, lots of people doing lots of work that’s all pulled together at the end.
‘It’s not exciting. People love murder and they want to be entertained but the reality wouldn’t be entertaining for people.
‘If there’s an area where people’s expectations really don’t meet the reality I would say it was around forensics.’
Steve got the idea to create the book because he wanted to launch a consultancy company, sharing how skills and techniques used to solve London’s murders could be useful in business but he realised there was very little out there which detailed just exactly how detectives went about solving murders.
‘I suddenly realised that it’s going to be true crime fans who would want to read how it was done. There are books that look at specific cases and how they were solved but not a general look at how they work each time.
‘There were two things that were really important for me – the first was the families. I don’t refer to any names. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t seen to be exploiting them.
‘That was really important to me so whatever I said in the book has been reported in court. I wasn’t betraying a confidence or going behind people’s back.
‘The other thing was I didn’t want to be seen to be turning on the police in any way so it was a balancing act between giving people an insight into what we do but not overstepping any marks.’
Asked about the cliché of ‘the one that got away’ that often haunts fictional murder detectives, Steve said for him that stems from how close detectives get to the victims’ families.
Stressing that it was rare murders went uncleared, he said: ‘You’re with the family from the beginning, you’re sharing in their grief right the way from the start all the way through to the trial and if you get to the trial and someone is found not guilty, that always sits with me.
In his book, Steve talks about a murder investigation where they were unable to secure a conviction against a defendant suspected of killing a 17-year-old boy.
The teenager was killed in a gang execution organised by 22-year-old Ola Apena from his prison cell.
Anonymised in the book, Steve recalls the difficulties following the murder of 17-year-old Samuel Ogunro who was executed with a shot to the back of the head before the car he was in was set alight in June 2010.
Gang members believed Samuel was going to snitch during a firearms trial and Ola Apena, of south London, arranged Samuel’s murder from within an Oxfordshire prison using illicit mobile phones.
Apena, 22 at the time, was found guilty of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. He was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 32 years. No one was ever convicted of pulling the trigger.
‘When you’re with the family after, that’s hard because you want to do the best by them,’ he added.
‘Even though it wasn’t my fault, we’d done an awful lot to get the evidence, for that to come back not guilty really does stick with you.
‘I write about it in the book where his father turned up at Lewisham police station with a Christmas present. We convicted the person who organised the murder from prison but the man that pulled the trigger and killed his son is still out there. Mostly it sits with me because of how close I felt with the family at the time.’
In 2011, Detective Keogh was part of the team brought in to investigate the murder of Sally Hodkin in Bexleyheath by mental health patient Nicola Edgington. Pictured: Officers work to preserve the scene near a shopping centre in south east London
Paranoid schizophrenic Nicola Edgington, then 31, virtually decapitated grandmother Sally Hodkin, 58, with a butcher’s knife in a random attack six years after killing her own mother. Pictured: floral tributes were left at the scene in south east London
‘The motive behind murder can usually be boiled down to one of three factors’
During the research for his book, one of the biggest questions people wanted answered was why killers decide to take a life and Steve, lays out his theory in the book formed over years on the job, which he calls push and pull factors.
He told MailOnline: ‘I’m quite analytical in how I look at things – it was such a big thing people wanted to know about and I’ve always been interested in it but have never really written down my thoughts. I put an awful lot of effort into it.
How establishing motive can help identify the killer
Pictured: Shihabouddin Choudhury (left) and Akmol Miah who were convicted of murdering Maleha and Nabiha Masud
Establishing the motive behind a murder can be crucial to identifying a killer, Steve tells readers.
Such was the case in the murders of 15-year-old Maleha Masud and her sister Nabiha, 21, who died after someone poured petrol through their letter box and set their south London home ablaze in June 2009.
Describing the scene, Steve said: ‘Seeing that burned-out house brought home the horror of what that family went through. I can’t think of anything more terrifying than waking to find your house being on fire.’
With no obvious animosities towards the family, detectives initially considered mistaken identity.
But when a family liaison officer later informed detectives the ex-boyfriend of Maleha had been upset when she broke up with him, this became the focus of their investigation.
Steve writes: ‘However unlikely, it was the only lead we had with a possible motive and the decision was made to arrest the 14-year-old boy on suspicion of murder.’
After searching his home, IT techs discovered the 14-year-old had searched ‘how to burn someone’s house down’ the day before the fatal attack.
‘To say we were surprised is an understatement. Even though he was the only person with an apparent motive, he was still just a child,’ Steve said.
Akmol Miah, then 14, was found guilty of the attack which he carried out in revenge after Maleha ended their three-month relationship.
Miah and his cousin Shihabuddin Choudhury, 21, poured petrol through the front letterbox as the family slept at their home in Tooting, south London.
Maleha’s mother Rubina and older brother Zain managed to jump to safety from a window and brother Junaid was lucky to survive after being rescued by firefighters.
Both Maleha and her sister Nabiha, 21, were also pulled from the blaze but later died in hospital.
Miah was sentenced to a minimum of 23 years while his cousin was told he must serve 21 years in prison.
‘I believe human beings are driven to act by three things: how we feel, how we want to feel and the gain we’re going to get from doing it.
‘If you relate it to anything you do, like going to the gym. For whatever reason someone chooses to do exercise, it will always comes back to how people feel, how they want to feel or the benefit they’re going to get from it.
‘In the book, I look at it quite simply and it’s not something we’re taught as police officers. It’s my theory on why people kill.
‘Some might agree or disagree and say I’ve oversimplified it. But for me, apart from mental health, whatever you come back to is always linked to a triggered emotion, how they want to feel or the gain they will get from it.’
Where that went to a ‘scarier’ level was during his time as a member of SO13 – the Met’s Anti-Terrorism unit.
Steve said: ‘It was scarier, I’ve got to be honest. In my 12 years dealing with murders, I never ever felt uncomfortable arresting a murderer.
‘I never felt fear for my safety, I was never attacked or assaulted.
‘Very rarely, if ever, we would use armed police but terrorists were just different.
‘To them killing you would have added to their status and furthered their cause. That was the one difference in the terrorist branch that I found.’
He recounted how his team were one of the first in the country to be trained in specialist equipment to deal with dangerous hazards known as Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear (CBRN) materials.
Steve was one of the officers who discovered ricin at a property in Wood Green which was to be used as part of a terrorist plot targeting the London Underground in 2003.
He recalls how experts found traces of ricin on a pestle and mortar during their search.
Kamel Bourgass was convicted in connection to the plot and he was already serving a life sentence for killing special branch officer Stephen Noake in the course of his arrest during the investigation.
‘That kind of brought it home that these people are a different breed to the ones I was used to dealing with. We’ve got this ricin knocking around, that kind of hit home that I’m moving in different circles. We weren’t armed but they were scary people who wouldn’t have thought twice about doing something to you.’
Steve was officially commended for his role in investigating the 7/7 bombings in 2005 after he spent days crawling through the tunnels of the underground collecting body parts.
In his book, Steve details how he dealt with the trauma of being on the scene of the devastating attacks.
‘My colleague and I were the first anti-terrorist officers to arrive at one of the scenes. We didn’t leave there for two weeks. Most of it was spent on our hands and knees, crawling through a tunnel.
‘Our team was responsible for removing the dead victims, then conducting fingertip searches of the whole scene, collecting evidence. That included collection of all human remains. This was at the height of summer, in enclosed conditions.’
Steve says family and friends were concerned with how he was coping and that he grew worried he wasn’t upset enough at what he had seen.
‘What I realised is that the way I deal with traumatic events is to not dwell on them. I compartmentalise. Anything that could be upsetting, I just shut away.’
Throughout his book, Steve sheds light on some of his most memorable cases to show readers how they were solved, taking them through each step of the investigation from arriving at the scene to the trial and verdict.
Akmol Miah, 14, and Shihabuddin Choudhury, 21, poured petrol through the front letterbox at the home of his ex-girlfriend Maleha as the family slept. The raging fire killed the 15-year-old and her 21-year-old sister Nabiha (pictured, right, together)
Pictured: Aldgate Station after the 7th July bombings in 2005 that killed 56 people and injured 784
Pictured is the inside of the tube at Edgware Road station on 7/7 after a bomb exploded on the train
‘In any murder detective’s career, there will be cases that stay with them,’ he writes and he opens the book with one of the most high profile cases he investigated – the case of Nicola Edgington and the murder of Sally Hodkin.
Edgington, then 31 and a diagnosed schizophrenic, virtually decapitated Sally Hodkin and attacked Kerry Clark during a rampage in Bexleyheath, south-east London, in October 2011, six years after killing her own mother Marion in 2005.
Describing the scene in an anonymised account, Steve says: ‘[An officer] pointed across the road to where I could see a body. There was also blood, lots of blood. He told us the lady had been killed by someone using a large knife.’
Steve was made aware of Edgington who was arrested for what ‘appeared to be a completely random’ killing.
‘I had to look again just to be sure of what I was seeing. What jumped out at me was how calm she looked, with a half-smile on her face.’
The book takes readers through Edington’s attempts to plead to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility and how prosecutors hired a top psychiatrist to prove she was aware of what she was doing, acting out of anger at her medical treatment at the time.
Nicola Edgington was convicted of the murder of Sally Hodkin, 58, the attempted murder of then 22-year-old Kerry Clark and was jailed for life with a minimum of 37 years in 2013.
‘From a personal point of view, I hope she is never released from prison. Having seen her behaviour before, during and after this incident, I’m not convinced she wouldn’t kill again,’ Steve concludes.
Steve received a Commissioner’s Commendation from Sir Ian Blair in 2006 for his role in the investigation into the 7/7 attack
Nicola Edgington (right) virtually decapitated Sally Hodkin (left) in a random attack six years after killing her own mother
The Metropolitan Police is in the midst of one of the most turbulent periods in recent history. In the past two years alone, it has faced crisis after crisis including scrutiny over Carl Beech and the bungled VIP paedophile ring inquiry, failings surrounding the murder of Sarah Everard and findings that its commissioner obstructed the panel investigating potential corruption in the Daniel Morgan murder investigation.
For former Met murder detective Keogh, who served on the force for 30 years, the biggest challenge it is facing is restoring the public’s confidence in its ability to serve and protect.
He said: ‘It’s going to be difficult to restore people’s faith in the force. When I’ve seen that women are now mistrusting the police as a whole to the point where some are saying they don’t feel they could call the police if something was to happen, it’s just heartbreaking because it’s them they should be calling.
‘And 99.9 per cent of police officers are decent people whose whole existence is to look after people and they’re the sort of people who would put their life on the line.
‘It’s a bit of a cliché but when something bad happens, it really is the police that run to it when everyone else is running away and it actually makes me quite sad that the comments are people no longer trust the police.
‘This is the institution I’ve been part of for such a long time and I was proud to be part of it. I always felt if I said I was a police officer, the reaction I got was oh that’s good. To think now people could say I don’t trust you, I find that really quite sad.
‘How we get over that, I hope it’s just time. What the police are doing I think is right and if we get over the initial pain, then in the long term hopefully people can get their trust back.’
Murder Investigation Team: How Scotland Yard Really Catches a Killer is available in paperback (£8.99) and Kindle format (£4.99).
Steve has also launched Murder Academy – the world’s first site bringing the truth of how murders are investigated to True Crime fans.
Source: DUK News