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Manhunt: Episode 3 (S2EP3 ITV Wed 22 Sep 2021)

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The mood in the team is expectant that they might actually catch Minstead Man with this new plan. Everyone has a part to play: they are energised; they’re aiming high; but they might just get their target.

They are brought back down to earth by the news of a new and very vicious attack on an elderly lady which makes them all the more determined to catch their prey. Colin talks to the lady’s daughter, who feels helpless as she lives in New Zealand.

Colin is notified that the Force Tasking Group have a slot for him in two hours to consider his application for funding. It is now or never, and any delay could result in more attacks. So Colin has to approach one of the biggest meetings of his career with very little preparation. He doesn’t have a slick power-point presentation which the other applicants have, only the scribbled notes that he has been able to jot down in the car whilst being driven to the meeting by DS Neville Hylton (Sule Rimi).

Colin tries to outline his plan as best he can, but he realises that he is coming across as a bit dry and numbers-based, by talking about the ages and quantity of the victims, so he decides to ditch his script and appeal to the Force Tasking Group’s better judgement. He talks about the victims, what they have gone through, and how this perpetrator has marked their lives forever with his terrifying assaults. He is very relieved when they agree to fund his plan: they are going proactive.

With painstaking attention to detail and with the new manpower in place, Colin designs a human dragnet, deploying these officers to invisibly saturate the target area on a nightly basis.

Every day that they have this surveillance in place is costing huge sums of money, and they are being carefully scrutinised by the most senior officers of the Metropolitan Police.

On the first night of the surveillance, Colin watches all the cameras and observation points that they have set up to try and catch the Night Stalker, at the impressive high-tech Central 3000 in Vauxhall. But he doesn’t appear. Working around the clock, the next morning when he arrives back in Lewisham, he hears the devastating news: the Night Stalker did attack last night, but just outside of their target area, so just out of their reach. So close and yet so far.

They realise that because of the distance between the attacks, the Night Stalker must have been travelling in a vehicle – and he must have passed through their target area – so they will have him on camera. They manage to narrow the time frame down, and with the help of the vehicles expert that Colin used to identify Levi Bellfield’s van, they are told that the Night Stalker drives a particular model of Vauxhall Zafira.

On the second night, again, just outside their plot, a 999 call is received from an elderly victim – who has managed to call whilst the Night Stalker is still in her house. As the man approaches her he sees she is on the phone and makes a run for it. A uniformed police officer chases the suspect for more than two miles, which Colin closely follows from Central 3000. Despite his best efforts the PC loses the suspect.

Famous for going quiet for long periods of time between attacks, and having survived such a near miss, everyone fears that the Night Stalker will go underground again, and they won’t be able to keep their now massively expensive surveillance operation going for long enough to wait for him to attack again.

On their way to the airport to greet the elderly lady’s daughter who is just arriving from New Zealand to see her mother, Colin and DC Patricia Henry (Diveen Henry) receive the devastating news that the victim has died in hospital. Her daughter is beside herself that she never made it over in time before her mother died. She thinks that if they catch the Night Stalker, he should be tried for murder. Though Colin privately agrees, unfortunately it would not be murder in the eyes of the CPS. Colin is more determined than ever to end the Night Stalker’s reign of terror.

The executive producer: is Philippa Braithwaite, the producer is Jo Willett, the co-producer is Evie Bergson-Korn, the director is Marc Evans. The writer is Ed Whitmore, who is also an executive producer. The series was devised by Ed Whitmore and Colin Sutton.

Airdate: Wed 22 Sep 2021 at 21:00 on ITV

Season 2 Episode 3

Fact-based drama looking at the work of Colin Sutton, the Senior Investigating Officer in the hunt for Levi Bellfield, who was the killer of at least three women.