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Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

manhunt the phantom cop killer 2023

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What happened to Barry Prudom? How the ‘Phantom of the Forest’ murderer was tracked down by police in manhunt

Barry prudom killed a police officer and the events that followed sparked a massive manhunt — the largest in the uk at the time — during which two other people were killed..

Armed British police officers searching fields during the manhunt for fugitive triple murderer Barry Prudom, Malton, North Yorkshire, June 28, 1982. Prudom was wanted in connection with a series of shootings, including the killing of Police sergeant David Winter. (Photo by Bryn Colton/Getty Images)

In 1982, Barry Prudom was subject to what was the biggest manhunt in British history at that time.

On 17 June of that year, he killed a police officer and went on the run for 18 days, during which he killed another officer and a civilian. By 4 July he was dead, having committed suicide as police closed in on him.

The ordeal, which led to Mr Prudom being dubbed the ‘Phantom of the Forest’, is now the focus of a documentary , ‘ Manhunt: Search For the Cop Killer’ , set to air on Channel 5 at 9pm on 25 July.

An armed plain clothes British police officer searching fields during the manhunt for fugitive triple murderer Barry Prudom, Malton, North Yorkshire, June 28, 1982. (Photo by Bryn Colton/Getty Images)

Who was Barry Prudom?

Mr Prudom was born in Leeds on 18 October 1944.

As an adult, he trained to be an electrician. He also had two children, in 1966 and 1970, with his wife, who he’d married in 1965.

In 1969 he joined special forces through the army’s volunteer Territorial force. He was in its B Squadron, 23 Special Air Service (V), which was based in Leeds. However, as reported by The Northern Echo , Mr Prudom was ultimately rejected from the force, apparently because of his dislike of discipline.

But skills he learnt did come into play during his manhunt.

By 1977 he was working in Saudi Arabia and his wife separated from him. He worked overseas on oil rigs in the US and Canada, but was back in the UK in January 1982. That month he was in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, when he was arrested for a violent assault, and an arrest warrant was later issued when he failed to answer bail at the Leeds Crown Court.

A group of armed British police officers during the manhunt for fugitive triple murderer Barry Prudom, Malton, North Yorkshire, June 28, 1982. Prudom was wanted in connection with a series of shootings, including the killing of Police sergeant David Winter. (Photo by Bryn Colton/Getty Images)

The manhunt for the ‘Phantom of the Forest’

Half a year later, on 17 June, police officer David Haigh was found dead, with a single shot to the head, next to his patrol car and a murder investigation was launched.

Three days later he broke into an elderly woman’s home, tied her up, and stole £4.50 from her.

Mr Prudom broke into another home three days later again (23 June) and tied up the occupants – 52-year-old George Luckett and his wife, Sylvia, 50. He shot them both once in the head, with Mr Luckett dying and Ms Luckett crawling for help once Mr Prudom had left.

Armed British Police search fields during the hunt for Barry Prudom, wanted in connection with a series of shootings including the killing of a Police sergeant David Winter, on June 28, 1982. The search for Prudom was the largest armed Police operation Britain had seen in Old Malton, North Yorkshire, U.K, on Tuesday, June 29, 1982. (Photo by Bryn Colton/Getty Images)

After this incident, North Yorkshire Police had established the murders and break-ins were conducted by the same person.

During a routine vehicle check on 24 June, Mr Prudom shot officer Ken Oliver in the face, but he managed to escape alive after a police dog began attacking Mr Prudom. The manhunt for him started after this event, by which stage Mr Prudom had gone to ground in the area forest.

He was identified by police in coming days after they searched the address Mr Haigh had written on a clipboard.

On 28 June, Mr Prudom shot police officer David Winter three times, killing him, and then escaping again. Mr Winter had received information about a suspicious man seen in Old Malton, in North Yorkshire.

On 30 June, former special forces instructor and survival specialist Eddie McGee, and a colleague, joined the manhunt. McGee was known for his tracking skills and officers had found a copy of his survival technique book, No Need to Die , at Mr Prudom’s address. The manhunt soon after narrowed down their search area to the township, and nearby countryside, of Malton.

A group of armed British police officers during the manhunt for fugitive triple murderer Barry Prudom, Malton, North Yorkshire, June 28, 1982. Prudom was wanted in connection with a series of shootings, including the killing of Police sergeant David Winter. (Photo by Bryn Colton/Getty Images)

On 3 July, Mr Prudom broke into the Johnson family home and held them hostage, tying them up and hiding out in the house for 11 hours.

By the next day, the Johnsons had freed themselves and called the police. From their house, Mr McGee managed to find Mr Prudom’s trail and ultimately his hideout.

As police closed in, Mr Prudom killed himself. However, before police found him in the hideout, they had opened fire. A postmortem showed 21 shotgun wounds to his body, but a self-inflicted wound to the head was ruled the cause of death.

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manhunt the phantom cop killer 2023

I hunted psycho cop killer Barry Prudom through the wilderness for 17 days – his chilling last act will haunt me forever

  • Mike Ridley
  • Published : 8:57 ET, Jul 25 2023
  • Updated : 16:07 ET, Jul 25 2023
  • Published : Invalid Date,

SEARCHING through thick foliage at a tennis club in Malton, Yorkshire, survival expert Eddie McKee spotted a twitching foot and fell backwards in shock.

For Detective Sergeant Jim Kilmartin, standing next to him, it was the culmination of a 17-day manhunt for a "psychotic" killer, who left two cops and a farmer dead on a murderous rampage.

Cop killer Barry Prudom was dubbed the 'Phantom of the Forest'

Seconds later Barry Prudom , dubbed the Phantom of the Forest, was dead - after putting a bullet through his own head.

The ex-special forces soldier and survival expert had been the run across the north of England for over a fortnight, in the summer of 1982, pursued by 4,000 police, many of them armed.

The incredible story of Prudom’s trail of destruction, 40 years ago, is told in a new TV Channel 5 documentary, Manhunt: Search for the Cop Killer, which airs tonight.

“There has never been a manhunt like it since," Jim tells The Sun. "Only the search for Raoul Moat comes close.”

Cold-blooded murder of PC

Britain’s largest-ever manhunt began on June 17, 1982, when PC David Haigh went to deliver a court summons to a poacher in North Yorkshire's Washburn Valley. 

When he didn't return, his colleagues went in search of him and found the police car with its doors open. PC Haigh lay dead beside it. He had been shot in the forehead.

Having cleared the poacher of suspicion, police had only one clue to the killer’s identity.

Written on a clipboard found under his body, PC Haigh had written down a date of birth, a name and a car registration number. 

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The name was false and the car was found abandoned three days later 25 miles away. 

More than 5,000 people had that same date of birth – October 18, 1944. Using the fledgling national computer police trawled everyone born that day. 

Double shooting

In the meantime, the gunman fled to Lincolnshire where on the fifth day of the police hunt, he broke into the home of civilians Sylvia and George Luckett, shooting both in the head before escaping in their car. 

George died instantly but his wife survived. Covered in blood from a bullet wound in her head, Sylvia managed to crawl to a neighbour’s home to raise the alarm.

Around 5:30pm on Thursday, June 24, dog handler PC Ken Oliver was on patrol in Bickley near Dalby Forest on the outskirts of Scarborough when he spotted the Lucketts' brown Rover. 

PC David Haigh Death was Prudom's first victim

As he asked the driver to get out of the car, PC Oliver saw a small handgun pointing at him, followed by a puff of smoke and he felt a bullet nick the bridge of his nose.

Jim, a colleague of PC Oliver, said: “The man just reached across with a pistol and fired straight at his face. Ken then turned and the man chased him round and round the van.

“Ken managed to get the back door of the van open and let his dog out. But unfortunately, the devil looks after his own. 

“The dog went towards him but the man fired at it."

PC Oliver was hit by a total of seven bullets and the dog was shot twice, and also survived.

The wounded constable ran to a house 200 yards away. A man and two small children were outside and he got them inside to safety. 

"That Ken survived was miraculous," says Jim. "There's no other word to describe it."

“The gun that had been used on PC David Haigh was the same one that had been used on Mr Luckett."

Killer identified

After the shooting the gunman drove into Dalby Forest, where he set fire to his car.

Within hours, police marksmen, helicopters and one thousand police officers on foot were deployed to the forest, which was cordoned off.

Jim, who served 32 years with North Yorks police, told the documentary: “Forest rangers in Dalby Forest had noticed smoke. It was the brown Rover (on fire).

“The dog had a good scent and took us into the forest. After following him for a while I was convinced that this guy was a man who knew how to survive in the woods.”

Then came a breakthrough. Cross-referencing the date of birth on David Haigh's clipboard with police records came up with the name ‘Barry Edwards’, wanted for wounding after a road rage attack.

His real name was Barry Prudom, a keep-fit fanatic, obsessed with weapons and the military. 

In his flat police found a manual on survival techniques written by Eddie McGee, a former paratrooper and experienced tracker. 

Electrician Prudom, a Territorial with 27 SAS, had attended one of his survival courses. PC Ken Oliver identified Prudom from a photo. 

Armed police join what became the UK's biggest ever manhunt

The 'Phantom' had vanished, so police called in survival expert McGee to track down the killer who had now been on the run for ten days.

Two days later Prudom walked into the centre of the market town of Malton, where Sergeant David Winter and Constable Mick Wood were on patrol.

Wood saw his colleague challenge a man. One gunshot rang out and Sgt Winter fell down dead just 200 yards from the police station. He had been shot point-blank in the chest.

Jim says: “The population were absolutely terrified. The place was locked down. The movement of people was being inhibited. There were swarms of police about.”

Phantom of the Forest

Prudom lay low for four more days, until July 3, when he walked into the home of pensioner Maurice Johnson and held him, wife Bessie and their son Brian hostage for 11 hours before fleeing.

After he had gone, Maurice Johnson called the police. 

Jim accompanied unarmed tracker Eddie as he followed the killer's trail to a nearby tennis club.

Cop killer Prudom was hiding behind a panel of fencing leaning against a stone wall.

Jim says: “Eddie was looking for things that had been disturbed, where the spiders' webs had been broken.

"There was a patch of sand and in it was the exact footprint of a trainer shoe. Eddie was convinced that it was a new track. 

“I was standing by his shoulder. He was down on his hands and knees, lifting the foliage up. He came across the edge of a very blue polythene sheet, which was slightly out of place with the rest of it. 

“He was still probing when suddenly he did a backwards roll and an immediate reaction. He shouted, ‘Jim, Jim, he’s here’, suddenly a foot moved.” 

The firearms squad was swift on the scene and stun grenades were thrown into the hideout.

But before the police marksmen opened fire, a gunshot rang out – triple murderer Prudom had killed himself.

It is not clear what the killer's motive was, but police would later speculate that his life had been sent into a downward spiral five years earlier.

While w he was working on an oil rig in Saudi Arabia, his wife back home in Leeds had sent him a letter saying she had fallen in love with another man.

Jim says: “I think the man was a psychopath. He shot people in the back and if they had been tied up. 

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“When people were at his mercy he was kingpin. But when he was at somebody else's mercy it was different."

Manhunt: Search for the Cop Killer is on Channel 5 tonight at 9pm.

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This feature-length documentary by ITN Productions for Channel 5 & Paramount + tells the story of the police operation to capture Barry Prudom aka The Phantom who in the summer of 1982 was the most wanted man in Britain. Featuring interviews with first-hand contributors alongside evocative archive and stylised drama reconstruction, this programme takes a definitive look at Prudom's crimes, the impact on his victims and the unprecedented manhunt of a dangerous armed killer on the run.

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manhunt the phantom cop killer 2023

I hunted psycho cop killer Barry Prudom through the wilderness for 17 days – his chilling last act will haunt me forever

  • Mike Ridley
  • Published : 13:57, 25 Jul 2023
  • Updated : 15:41, 25 Jul 2023
  • Published : Invalid Date,

SEARCHING through thick foliage at a tennis club in Malton, Yorkshire, survival expert Eddie McKee spotted a twitching foot and fell backwards in shock.

For Detective Sergeant Jim Kilmartin, standing next to him, it was the culmination of a 17-day manhunt for a "psychotic" killer, who left two cops and a farmer dead on a murderous rampage.

Cop killer Barry Prudom was dubbed the 'Phantom of the Forest'

Seconds later Barry Prudom , dubbed the Phantom of the Forest, was dead - after putting a bullet through his own head.

The ex-special forces soldier and survival expert had been the run across the north of England for over a fortnight, in the summer of 1982, pursued by 4,000 police, many of them armed.

The incredible story of Prudom’s trail of destruction, 40 years ago, is told in a new TV Channel 5 documentary, Manhunt: Search for the Cop Killer, which airs tonight.

“There has never been a manhunt like it since," Jim tells The Sun. "Only the search for Raoul Moat comes close.”

Cold-blooded murder of PC

Britain’s largest-ever manhunt began on June 17, 1982, when PC David Haigh went to deliver a court summons to a poacher in North Yorkshire's Washburn Valley. 

When he didn't return, his colleagues went in search of him and found the police car with its doors open. PC Haigh lay dead beside it. He had been shot in the forehead.

Having cleared the poacher of suspicion, police had only one clue to the killer’s identity.

Written on a clipboard found under his body, PC Haigh had written down a date of birth, a name and a car registration number. 

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The name was false and the car was found abandoned three days later 25 miles away. 

More than 5,000 people had that same date of birth – October 18, 1944. Using the fledgling national computer police trawled everyone born that day. 

Double shooting

In the meantime, the gunman fled to Lincolnshire where on the fifth day of the police hunt, he broke into the home of civilians Sylvia and George Luckett, shooting both in the head before escaping in their car. 

George died instantly but his wife survived. Covered in blood from a bullet wound in her head, Sylvia managed to crawl to a neighbour’s home to raise the alarm.

Around 5:30pm on Thursday, June 24, dog handler PC Ken Oliver was on patrol in Bickley near Dalby Forest on the outskirts of Scarborough when he spotted the Lucketts' brown Rover. 

PC David Haigh Death was Prudom's first victim

As he asked the driver to get out of the car, PC Oliver saw a small handgun pointing at him, followed by a puff of smoke and he felt a bullet nick the bridge of his nose.

Jim, a colleague of PC Oliver, said: “The man just reached across with a pistol and fired straight at his face. Ken then turned and the man chased him round and round the van.

“Ken managed to get the back door of the van open and let his dog out. But unfortunately, the devil looks after his own. 

“The dog went towards him but the man fired at it."

PC Oliver was hit by a total of seven bullets and the dog was shot twice, and also survived.

The wounded constable ran to a house 200 yards away. A man and two small children were outside and he got them inside to safety. 

"That Ken survived was miraculous," says Jim. "There's no other word to describe it."

“The gun that had been used on PC David Haigh was the same one that had been used on Mr Luckett."

Killer identified

After the shooting the gunman drove into Dalby Forest, where he set fire to his car.

Within hours, police marksmen, helicopters and one thousand police officers on foot were deployed to the forest, which was cordoned off.

Jim, who served 32 years with North Yorks police, told the documentary: “Forest rangers in Dalby Forest had noticed smoke. It was the brown Rover (on fire).

“The dog had a good scent and took us into the forest. After following him for a while I was convinced that this guy was a man who knew how to survive in the woods.”

Then came a breakthrough. Cross-referencing the date of birth on David Haigh's clipboard with police records came up with the name ‘Barry Edwards’, wanted for wounding after a road rage attack.

His real name was Barry Prudom, a keep-fit fanatic, obsessed with weapons and the military. 

In his flat police found a manual on survival techniques written by Eddie McGee, a former paratrooper and experienced tracker. 

Electrician Prudom, a Territorial with 27 SAS, had attended one of his survival courses. PC Ken Oliver identified Prudom from a photo. 

Armed police join what became the UK's biggest ever manhunt

The 'Phantom' had vanished, so police called in survival expert McGee to track down the killer who had now been on the run for ten days.

Two days later Prudom walked into the centre of the market town of Malton, where Sergeant David Winter and Constable Mick Wood were on patrol.

Wood saw his colleague challenge a man. One gunshot rang out and Sgt Winter fell down dead just 200 yards from the police station. He had been shot point-blank in the chest.

Jim says: “The population were absolutely terrified. The place was locked down. The movement of people was being inhibited. There were swarms of police about.”

Phantom of the Forest

Prudom lay low for four more days, until July 3, when he walked into the home of pensioner Maurice Johnson and held him, wife Bessie and their son Brian hostage for 11 hours before fleeing.

After he had gone, Maurice Johnson called the police. 

Jim accompanied unarmed tracker Eddie as he followed the killer's trail to a nearby tennis club.

Cop killer Prudom was hiding behind a panel of fencing leaning against a stone wall.

Jim says: “Eddie was looking for things that had been disturbed, where the spiders' webs had been broken.

"There was a patch of sand and in it was the exact footprint of a trainer shoe. Eddie was convinced that it was a new track. 

“I was standing by his shoulder. He was down on his hands and knees, lifting the foliage up. He came across the edge of a very blue polythene sheet, which was slightly out of place with the rest of it. 

“He was still probing when suddenly he did a backwards roll and an immediate reaction. He shouted, ‘Jim, Jim, he’s here’, suddenly a foot moved.” 

The firearms squad was swift on the scene and stun grenades were thrown into the hideout.

But before the police marksmen opened fire, a gunshot rang out – triple murderer Prudom had killed himself.

It is not clear what the killer's motive was, but police would later speculate that his life had been sent into a downward spiral five years earlier.

While w he was working on an oil rig in Saudi Arabia, his wife back home in Leeds had sent him a letter saying she had fallen in love with another man.

Jim says: “I think the man was a psychopath. He shot people in the back and if they had been tied up. 

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“When people were at his mercy he was kingpin. But when he was at somebody else's mercy it was different."

Manhunt: Search for the Cop Killer is on Channel 5 tonight at 9pm.

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Martin Clunes in Manhunt (2019)

Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton tracks down a serial killer. Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton tracks down a serial killer. Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton tracks down a serial killer.

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Series 2: The Night Stalker - Official Trailer

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After committing their crimes, some murderers behave in an eerily normal way – going shopping, ordering a takeaway, hanging out with friends and family, all while the corpse of their victims go cold. But in some cases, things escalate very quickly, with the desperate culprit going on the run.

In What the Killer Did Next , host Philip Glenister looks into one example of a murder which triggered a manhunt: the sorry case of John Heald, who booked a room in a Bridlington guest house in 2015, only to turn on the owner, Bei Carter. The murder was sudden, swift and seemingly without motive, and Heald was soon the subject of a massive police search. As it turned out, Heald had already been a fugitive from justice, facing rape charges from less than a week prior to the Bei Carter killing.

The dark, doomed saga of John Heald gripped the local headlines, recalling previous manhunts that galvanized police forces in Britain. Here are three of the most shocking.

Wakefield-born Mark Hobson was an ordinary, happy child who grew up to become an ordinary, seemingly happy family man – until the day he abruptly left his wife and went down a spiral of drink and drugs. It was a bizarre switch in personality that became progressively worse when he hooked up with new partner Claire Sanderson and moved to the village of Camblesforth near Selby. Mark’s rages were violent and horrifying. He poured bleach over Claire, he hit her with a wine bottle, and a friend once had to stop him attacking her with a dumbbell.

But that was all a prelude to the true horror to come. In July 2004, he murdered Claire with a hammer and lured her twin sister Diane to the flat. Once the unsuspecting Diane arrived, Hobson tortured and sexually assaulted her before killing her too. Hobson’s savage frenzy continued 25 miles away in Strensall, where he burst into the home of an elderly couple, James and Joan Britton, and slaughtered them

Having apparently exhausted his rabid impulses, Hobson basically spent the following days living in a ditch. Meanwhile, North Yorkshire police worked alongside no fewer than eight other forces in an epic effort to track down the deranged murderer. In daily press conferences, detectives asked people in the region to be vigilant in pubs and off-licenses.

The media barrage worked: the scruffy, bleary Hobson was recognized when he went to buy cigarette papers from a garage, and police swooped in. He is now in prison and will likely never be released.

A CGI graphic showing police tape in front of a road bridge at Rothbury, Northumberland

Raoul Moat: The story behind Britain's biggest manhunt

In 2010, police in Northumberland and Tyne and Wear were embroiled in one of the most sensational manhunts in British history. The fugitive was Raoul Moat , a former bouncer who’d embarked on a series of shootings just hours after being released from a short spell in prison.

He wasn’t some random spree killer, though. Moat was crazed by bitterness and a need for revenge, after his girlfriend Samantha Stobbart told him she’d left him for a police officer called Chris Brown. Actually, Brown wasn’t a copper at all – she’d just said that to keep Moat off her back. It was a catastrophic miscalculation. Moat attacked the couple with a shotgun: Samantha was injured, Brown was killed.

The public need not fear me, but the police should as I won't stop till I am dead.

On the run and fuelled by a hatred for the law, Moat then shot at police officer David Rathband, who thankfully survived but was permanently blinded. Helicopters, sniper teams and anti-terror vehicles from Northern Ireland were brought in to sweep through the region in the following days. Police even enlisted the help of survival expert Ray Mears in a bid to follow Moat’s movements.

'The public need not fear me, but the police should as I won't stop till I am dead,' Moat wrote in a letter that was given to the cops by a friend. But the public was terrified when police imposed an exclusion zone around a village in Northumberland, believing Moat was somewhere in the countryside. A stand-off soon ensued with the armed and desperate Moat, and things became farcical when football legend Paul Gascoigne turned up at the scene, saying he was friends with the fugitive and offering to bring 'Moaty' some lager and chicken. Gazza’s intervention aside, the saga had an ugly end, with Moat committing suicide.

Some killers are remembered not just for the savagery of their crimes, but for the immense, desperate effort to hunt them down…

4 manhunts that gripped the media

Barry prudom.

The Moat manhunt brought a sense of déjà vu to those who remembered the desperate quest to find Barry Prudom, an embittered cop-killer who went on the run in 1982 in North Yorkshire. Dubbed the 'Phantom of the Forest; for the way he vanished into the rural surroundings, Prudom had the significant advantage of having had SAS training.

Prudom, an oil rig worker whose life had started going off the rails when his wife left him for another man, had gone on the run after being charged with an assault on a motorist. It was a serious crime that was immediately dwarfed when Prudom shot and killed PC David Haigh at a picnic spot near Harrogate.

Days later, he broke into a house in Nottinghamshire, killing George Luckett and seriously injuring his wife Sylvia. Three different police forces started working together, but Prudom’s spree was far from over: he shot and almost killed PC Ken Oliver when the latter stopped him for a routine check outside Scarborough, and murdered Sergeant David Winter when the latter tried to apprehend him in a North Yorkshire village.

Hundreds of officers were on the elusive Prudom’s tail. They had, in the words of one senior officer, 'the largest arsenal of weapons ever issued to a British police force'. They also with SAS legend Eddie McGee, who’d written the definitive book on survival training, called No Need to Die. Prudom himself did die. After a bizarre interlude, in which he invaded a house and kept the family hostage, even having an affable dinner with them and giving them a gift of a US paratrooper’s ring, Prudom was cornered in a makeshift shelter near a tennis club, where he committed suicide.

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The hunt for the fugitive who had shot dead two police officers and a local pensioner.

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Manhunt: Catch Me If You Can

From docuwiki, [ edit ] general information.

Sociopolitical Documentary hosted by Jason Done , published by Channel 5 in 2019 - English narration

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Image: Manhunt-Catch-Me-If-You-Can-Cover.jpg

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Follows a 10-strong tactical unit from Kent Police dedicated to hunting suspects on the run. The team's work sees them tackling everything from criminals who have breached the terms of their probation, to potentially high-risk offenders suspected of violence and people thought to be involved in serious crimes while out on licence from prison.

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  • Video Codec: x265 CABAC Main@L4
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  • Video Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Frame Rate: 25 FPS
  • Audio Codec: AAC-LC
  • Audio Bitrate: q82 VBR 48KHz (~128Kbps)
  • Audio Channels: 2
  • Run-Time: 86 mins
  • Number Of Parts: 1
  • Part Size: 1.39 GB
  • Source: HDTV
  • Encoded by: JungleBoy

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  • MVGroup.org (torrent)

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  • Manhunt: The Phantom Cop Killer
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  • Secrets of a Police Marksman
  • Undercover Police: Hunting Paedophiles
  • The Force: The Story of Scotland's Police
  • Science of Interrogation

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Categories : Sociopolitical | Jason Done | Channel 5 | 2019 | English | Name Jason Done Language > English Name Publisher > Channel 5 Subject > Sociopolitical Year > 2019

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Real story behind ITV Manhunt series as detective drama returns

Martin Clunes stars as a Metropolitan Police detective brought in to track a brutal killer

  • 20:45, 7 JUN 2023
  • Updated 18:50, 8 JUN 2023

Levi Bellfield

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ITV is bringing its Manhunt series back to our screens this week. The detective drama is coming back for three nights starting on June 7.

Martin Clunes stars as DCI Colin Sutton of the Metropolitan Police. And now the first series is returning for a new run this week, focusing on the search for a serial killer in London.

Manhunt begins with police looking into the death of French student Amelie Delagrange. The Metropolitan Police assign Detective Chief Inspector Sutton to lead a large task force, which eventually leads to the arrest of a man called Levi Bellfield .

The drama is based on the memoirs of the real Colin Sutton in a book he wrote about how he caught the serial killer. So what is the real story behind the Manhunt TV series?

READ MORE: BBC1 Annika filming locations including major change from original story

What's the true story of the Levi Bellfield killings?

DCI Colin Sutton was brought in to look at the murder of 22-year-old French student Amelie Delagrange, who was found on Twickenham Green in August 2004, with serious head injuries. Amelie died in hospital the same night.

He soon came to the conclusion she might have been killed by the same person who had murdered Marsha McDonnell 18 months earlier. Marsha, who was 19, was beaten over the head in February 2003 after she got off a bus, and died in hospital two days later.

A possible suspect, Levi Bellfield , was put under surveillance and seen driving around in a white van, talking to young women at bus stops. He was arrested at his home on suspicion of the murder of Amelie.

At a trial in 2008, Bellfield was convicted of the murders of Amelie Delagrange and Marsha McDonnell and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy, 18, who was run over as she crossed a road. He was sentenced to life.

And then, in 2011, the man a judge described as a "cruel and pitiless killer" was linked to the death of Milly Dowler and convicted of her murder. Bellfield was given another life term, becoming the only serial killer to have been given two whole life sentences.

Milly had gone missing in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, in 2002, as she walked home from school. Her body was found in Yateley, Hampshire, six months later. Police found evidence that she had last been seen walking past Bellfield's flat.

At the time of his conviction, detectives said they believed Bellfield was responsible for a further 20 attacks on women that had remained unsolved. He was said to have admitted his involvement in 2015, while in prison, but co-ordinated investigations across multiple police forces did not find any proof linking him to the other killings.

In a statement in 2016, the Metropolitan Police said: "All lines of inquiry have now been exhausted and the decision has been taken to close this investigation as there is no evidence to link the individual to any case for which he has not already been convicted."

  • Manhunt series 1 returned on Wednesday, June 7, at 9pm on ITV1. The two remaining episodes air at the same time on Thursday, June 8, and Friday, June 9.
  • Channel 5 For Her Sins - full cast, storyline, episodes and when to watch

ITV Unforgotten's new top cop Sinead Keenan is related to famous Bond girl

  • ITV Coronation Street star Julie Goodyear in 'heartbreaking diagnosis'
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manhunt the phantom cop killer 2023

I hunted psycho cop killer Barry Prudom through the wilderness for 17 days – his chilling last act will haunt me forever

  • Mike Ridley
  • Published : 13:57, 25 Jul 2023
  • Updated : 15:40, 25 Jul 2023
  • Published : Invalid Date,

SEARCHING through thick foliage at a tennis club in Malton, Yorkshire, survival expert Eddie McKee spotted a twitching foot and fell backwards in shock.

For Detective Sergeant Jim Kilmartin, standing next to him, it was the culmination of a 17-day manhunt for a "psychotic" killer , who left two cops and a farmer dead on a murderous rampage.

Cop killer Barry Prudom was dubbed the 'Phantom of the Forest'

Seconds later Barry Prudom , dubbed the Phantom of the Forest, was dead - after putting a bullet through his own head.

The ex-special forces soldier and survival expert had been the run across the north of England for over a fortnight, in the summer of 1982, pursued by 4,000 police , many of them armed.

The incredible story of Prudom’s trail of destruction, 40 years ago, is told in a new TV Channel 5 documentary, Manhunt: Search for the Cop Killer, which airs tonight.

“There has never been a manhunt like it since," Jim tells The Sun. "Only the search for Raoul Moat comes close.”

READ MORE FEATURES

manhunt the phantom cop killer 2023

Inside the mystery of 'Turkey's Nicola Bulley' who vanished on dog walk

manhunt the phantom cop killer 2023

My wife was a millionaire & hid a scandalous secret… I was blamed for her murder

Cold-blooded murder of pc.

Britain’s largest-ever manhunt began on June 17, 1982, when PC David Haigh went to deliver a court summons to a poacher in North Yorkshire's Washburn Valley. 

When he didn't return, his colleagues went in search of him and found the police car with its doors open. PC Haigh lay dead beside it. He had been shot in the forehead.

Having cleared the poacher of suspicion, police had only one clue to the killer’s identity.

Written on a clipboard found under his body, PC Haigh had written down a date of birth, a name and a car registration number. 

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The name was false and the car was found abandoned three days later 25 miles away. 

More than 5,000 people had that same date of birth – October 18, 1944. Using the fledgling national computer police trawled everyone born that day. 

Double shooting

In the meantime, the gunman fled to Lincolnshire where on the fifth day of the police hunt, he broke into the home of civilians Sylvia and George Luckett, shooting both in the head before escaping in their car. 

George died instantly but his wife survived. Covered in blood from a bullet wound in her head, Sylvia managed to crawl to a neighbour’s home to raise the alarm.

Around 5:30pm on Thursday, June 24, dog handler PC Ken Oliver was on patrol in Bickley near Dalby Forest on the outskirts of Scarborough when he spotted the Lucketts' brown Rover. 

PC David Haigh Death was Prudom's first victim

As he asked the driver to get out of the car, PC Oliver saw a small handgun pointing at him, followed by a puff of smoke and he felt a bullet nick the bridge of his nose.

Jim, a colleague of PC Oliver, said: “The man just reached across with a pistol and fired straight at his face. Ken then turned and the man chased him round and round the van.

“Ken managed to get the back door of the van open and let his dog out. But unfortunately, the devil looks after his own. 

“The dog went towards him but the man fired at it."

PC Oliver was hit by a total of seven bullets and the dog was shot twice, and also survived.

The wounded constable ran to a house 200 yards away. A man and two small children were outside and he got them inside to safety. 

"That Ken survived was miraculous," says Jim. "There's no other word to describe it."

“The gun that had been used on PC David Haigh was the same one that had been used on Mr Luckett."

Killer identified

After the shooting the gunman drove into Dalby Forest, where he set fire to his car.

Within hours, police marksmen, helicopters and one thousand police officers on foot were deployed to the forest, which was cordoned off.

Jim, who served 32 years with North Yorks police, told the documentary: “Forest rangers in Dalby Forest had noticed smoke. It was the brown Rover (on fire).

“The dog had a good scent and took us into the forest. After following him for a while I was convinced that this guy was a man who knew how to survive in the woods.”

Then came a breakthrough. Cross-referencing the date of birth on David Haigh's clipboard with police records came up with the name ‘Barry Edwards’, wanted for wounding after a road rage attack.

His real name was Barry Prudom, a keep-fit fanatic, obsessed with weapons and the military. 

In his flat police found a manual on survival techniques written by Eddie McGee, a former paratrooper and experienced tracker. 

Electrician Prudom, a Territorial with 27 SAS, had attended one of his survival courses. PC Ken Oliver identified Prudom from a photo. 

Armed police join what became the UK's biggest ever manhunt

The 'Phantom' had vanished, so police called in survival expert McGee to track down the killer who had now been on the run for ten days.

Two days later Prudom walked into the centre of the market town of Malton, where Sergeant David Winter and Constable Mick Wood were on patrol.

Wood saw his colleague challenge a man. One gunshot rang out and Sgt Winter fell down dead just 200 yards from the police station. He had been shot point-blank in the chest.

Jim says: “The population were absolutely terrified. The place was locked down. The movement of people was being inhibited. There were swarms of police about.”

Phantom of the Forest

Prudom lay low for four more days, until July 3, when he walked into the home of pensioner Maurice Johnson and held him, wife Bessie and their son Brian hostage for 11 hours before fleeing.

After he had gone, Maurice Johnson called the police. 

Jim accompanied unarmed tracker Eddie as he followed the killer's trail to a nearby tennis club.

Cop killer Prudom was hiding behind a panel of fencing leaning against a stone wall.

Jim says: “Eddie was looking for things that had been disturbed, where the spiders' webs had been broken.

"There was a patch of sand and in it was the exact footprint of a trainer shoe. Eddie was convinced that it was a new track. 

“I was standing by his shoulder. He was down on his hands and knees, lifting the foliage up. He came across the edge of a very blue polythene sheet, which was slightly out of place with the rest of it. 

“He was still probing when suddenly he did a backwards roll and an immediate reaction. He shouted, ‘Jim, Jim, he’s here’, suddenly a foot moved.” 

The firearms squad was swift on the scene and stun grenades were thrown into the hideout.

But before the police marksmen opened fire, a gunshot rang out – triple murderer Prudom had killed himself.

It is not clear what the killer's motive was, but police would later speculate that his life had been sent into a downward spiral five years earlier.

While w he was working on an oil rig in Saudi Arabia, his wife back home in Leeds had sent him a letter saying she had fallen in love with another man.

Jim says: “I think the man was a psychopath. He shot people in the back and if they had been tied up. 

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“When people were at his mercy he was kingpin. But when he was at somebody else's mercy it was different."

Manhunt: Search for the Cop Killer is on Channel 5 tonight at 9pm.

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manhunt the phantom cop killer 2023

IMAGES

  1. Video Manhunt Intensifies for Accused Cop Killer

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  3. CH5.

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  4. Video Manhunt for Accused Cop Killer Eric Frein has Residents on Edge

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  5. Manhunt: Phantom in the Forest

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  6. How Police Failed to Solve The Phantom Killer Murders

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VIDEO

  1. Manhunt Over

  2. The Phantom Killer /// Episode 1 /// Clip 1

  3. Phantom Cop Car !

  4. Manhunt 2 X Danny Phantom

  5. Phantom Killer of Texarkana 1946

  6. F4 Phantom ("MIG Killer")

COMMENTS

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    Alastair James July 25, 2023 Episodes Manhunt: Search For the Cop Killer airs Tuesday 25 July 2023 on Channel 5. What is this episode about During the summer of 1982, Barry Prudom spent 18 days as Britain's most wanted man. A father of two who turned murderer sparked the largest armed police manhunt in the country's history.

  2. What happened to Barry Prudom? How the 'Phantom of the Forest' murderer

    Freelance reporter July 25, 2023 5:42 pm (Updated 5:43 pm) In 1982, Barry Prudom was subject to what was the biggest manhunt in British history at that time. On 17 June of that year, he killed...

  3. Manhunt: The Phantom Cop Killer

    6.2Release Post 6.3Related Documentaries 6.4ed2k Links Sociopolitical Documentary hosted by Grant Armour, published by Channel 5 in 2023 - English narration The police manhunt to find Barry Prudom in 1982, who was the most wanted man in Britain for 18 days after he shot and killed two police officers on a terrifying spree of violence.

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  5. Barry Prudom

    Barry Prudom Barry Peter Prudom (born Barry Edwards; 18 October 1944 - 4 July 1982), dubbed the Phantom of the Forest, was an English electrician and multiple murderer who became the subject of what was, at the time, the largest manhunt in British history. [1] [2] [3] [4] Prudom became a fugitive after killing PC David Haigh on 17 June 1982.

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    Thousands of cops led a 17-day manhunt for the psychotic killer Credit: Rex Seconds later Barry Prudom, dubbed the Phantom of the Forest, was dead - after putting a bullet through his own head.

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    43 Photos Biography Crime Drama Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton tracks down a serial killer. Stars Martin Clunes Claudie Blakley Matthew Gravelle See production info at IMDbPro Add to Watchlist Added by 19.6K users 66 User reviews 12 Critic reviews Nominated for 1 BAFTA Award 2 wins & 3 nominations total Episodes 7

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    The Moat manhunt brought a sense of déjà vu to those who remembered the desperate quest to find Barry Prudom, an embittered cop-killer who went on the run in 1982 in North Yorkshire. Dubbed the 'Phantom of the Forest; for the way he vanished into the rural surroundings, Prudom had the significant advantage of having had SAS training.

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