GMP: Rumour of Manchester canal ‘Pusher’ serial killer ‘hurtful’ to victims’ families

Police in Manchester have insisted that a serial killer dubbed ‘the Pusher’ does not exist despite a top professor raising concerns about the high number of deaths in the city’s canals in recent years.

Professor Craig Jackson of Birmingham University said it was ‘highly unlikely’ for 61 people all to die from accidents or suicides in Greater Manchester canal’s since 2008.

He said: “There’s clearly something going on here that’s beyond the realm of accident or happenstance and I think it needs to be investigated more closely.”

But calling a press conference today, Detective Chief Superintendent Russ Jackson of Greater Manchester Police was quick to quash the theory and said it was causing unnecessary upset to the families of the deceased.

He added that the full data – which came from an FOI request submitted by a national newspaper – showed there were actually 85 deaths in Greater Manchester since 2008 in the city’s rivers, ponds and canals.

But he confirmed that only 11 people had died in canals in Manchester city centre. He added that the rest of the deaths were from across Greater Manchester. Many of the reported deaths have resulted in ‘open’ verdicts following inquests – leading many to guess that something is amiss.

He said: “Manchester is 500 square miles, there are 2.7million people and an incredibly high number of waterways. Sadly people die in all manner of different circumstance every single day and this is over a seven year period.

“If you then research people who die in the bath, for instance, there would be quite a number. The amount of tragedies I have been to when a person has died in the bath – but that would also be a drowning. Many open verdicts have clear causes. Each of the cases have been investigated by detectives.”

The officer met with Prof Jackson and senior coroner for the area of south Manchester Joanne Kearsley to discuss the professor’s media comments.

He is alleged to have said he was misrepresented and didn’t have all of the data in front of him to form a clear view.

However, when he was asked to clarify his comments for a national newspaper, he reiterated the ‘serial killer’ theory.

Today, when asked whether DCS Jackson refused to say whether Prof Jackson had apologised for his comments.

He said: “I met with Professor Jackson because in my judgement it was his responsibility to do so in case he had another angle but I can say in absolute confidence that is not the case. He had commented upon initial data. His widely reported comments are misrepresented. There is no evidence of a serial killer in Manchester or elsewhere.

“I’m very concerned around the effects speculation may have with families still trying to come to terms with the terrible loss of a loved one in very difficult circumstances. I believe as the press you are entitled to make FOI requests and probe the police and that, to some extent, is what has taken place. On the other hand the speculation has been unhelpful and people may search for further answers that may not exist.

“Not every death is entirely explicable, whether in waterways or elsewhere. I have seen people die in circumstances that are really really odd from a layman’s perspective.

“There haven’t been any concerns raised to us from families of the deceased. Professor Jackson has spoken to some of the families. We are not working with Professor Jackson on any new angle.”

Story via Cavendish Press.

Image courtesy of Pimlico Badger, with thanks.

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