London Street Gangs: Daniel Morgan murder (Untouchables: Dirty Cops, Bent Justice and Racism in Scotland Yard)
Death of an expert witness
The elimination of private detective Daniel Morgan was planned with unusual care. At around 9pm on 10 March 1987 he left a meeting in the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south-east London, and walked into the rear car park. As he unlocked the door of his BMW, someone wielding a huge axe attacked him from behind.
The assailant felled Daniel with four ferocious blows to the head. He was already on his back when the crowning blow struck. It was inflicted with specially concentrated venom – in all probability to ensure that if Daniel was found before his final breath, he could speak no whisper and leave no clue. As the private detective’s lifeblood drained into the tarmac, the murderer slipped away, leaving the axe in his face.
Daniel Morgan was just thirty-seven years old and a father of two very young children.
The next day, before the pathologist began the autopsy he required considerable assistance just to extract the murder weapon. It had been fused with Danny’s cheekbone. Preliminary analysis made it pretty clear this was a professional hit. The 14-inch wooden axe handle had been shrewdly modified. It was expertly wound with Elastoplast to prevent slippage and allow the killer to boost directional control.
At the inquest it was suggested that the location for the killing was specially chosen to fall within the area of Catford police station. The apparent purpose of this particular piece of strategic planning was as sinister as it was simple – to contaminate the murder investigation from the inside, restraining and frustrating the gathering of evidence while keeping well ahead of any honest cop who might be assigned to the murder inquiry. With the integrity of the investigative process subverted, the murder would become what the police call “a sticker” and conveniently remain unsolved.
Today this is precisely the position. The murderer and his co-conspirators remain at large. Bust so does a pungent aura of police corruption. Significantly, the Daniel Morgan murder came just days after the private detective began taking steps to expose that corruption. Because of this, the killing still stalks Scotland Yard, a ghost unexorcised.