The Pusher? Police quash rumours that ‘serial killer’ stalks Manchester canals

The Manchester canal serial killer theory, also known as ‘The Pusher’ after more than 60 bodies were pulled from the region’s waterways, has been quashed by police.

National newspapers including The Daily Express, Mirror and Independent, this week suggested a possible link between the 61 bodies pulled out of the city’s canals during the last six years.

Detective Chief Superintendent Russ Jackson, head of GMP’s Serious Crime Division, has today spoken out to set the record straight and put an end to the fear-mongering.

He said: “There has been much publicity today over the deaths in canals in the city centre. We understand this began following a Freedom of Information request by a national newspaper.

“The Freedom of Information request provided to the national newspaper by Greater Manchester Police detailed 60 deaths in the canals and waterways of Greater Manchester since February 2008.

“This relates to the whole of the Greater Manchester area and not just the city centre area.

“What is very important to bear in mind in all these cases is that they have been subject to separate investigations and there is no evidence at all to suggest these deaths are linked or were suspicious.

“On some occasions, people have been charged with offences relevant to that particular investigation. Whilst in other cases, it remains uncertain how people came to be in the water, in many other cases the circumstances have been established following thorough investigations.

“The last thing we want is to cause further suffering and upset to grieving families, who may be falsely led to believe from media reporting that there is a linked series of attacks, or to cause unnecessary worries to people especially those who live in or frequent Manchester City Centre.”

To support claims of a potential serial killer ‘on the prowl’ in the city, the national paper approached Professor Craig Jackson of Birmingham University, who commented that on the basis of the number of deaths he could not rule out foul play.

“Today I have spoken with Professor Jackson who informed me that he had stated to the newspaper that he could not rule out foul play based on the number of deaths which have occurred,” DCS Jackson added.

“I understand his comments went no further than that at that stage and Professor Jackson has limited access to individual case material.

“Professor Jackson had not, I understand, contacted Greater Manchester Police prior to speaking with journalists.”

While the professor may not have been able to rule out foul play, DCS Jackson wanted to ensure the public that GMP had followed all the correct procedure in order to do so.

He said: “These cases have then been presented at inquests before Her Majesty’s Coroners, and it is for the coroner to determine the exact cause of death. Absolutely no evidence whatsoever of foul play has been established.

“It should also be stressed that coroners do have the power to refer any deaths back to police if they suspect foul play and that has not happened.

“We are determined to understand the circumstances by which a death has occurred on every occasion and I have asked Professor Jackson to travel to Manchester to discuss his findings and any information he may be able to add to our enquiries.

“Hopefully senior detectives will meet him early next week.”

GMP are also working closely with Manchester City Council to try to limit the number of people losing their lives in the city centre canals and waterways.

“In relation to the city centre, we have worked with Manchester City Council and other partner agencies to try and understand factors which might contribute to people losing their lives in the water in the city centre,” said DCS Jackson.

“Matters which we have previously discussed have involved lighting, safety barriers as well as in some cases alcohol consumption.”

Some articles on the supposed serial killer also stated that 27 bodies discovered are still unidentified – GMP described this statistic as ‘misleading and inaccurate’.

In fact, the figure referred to the number of bodies whose gender had not been established at the time the incident had initially been reported to the police call handler.

Subsequent inquiries have since been carried out and the gender of those bodies has been established – only one body remains unidentified.

Image courtesy of Mikey, with thanks.

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