Murder of Danielle Jones

Murder of Danielle Jones
Danielle Sarah Jones

Danielle Jones
Born 16 October 1985(1985-10-16)
East Tilbury, Essex, England
Died c. 18 June 2001(2001-06-18) (aged 15)
Height 1.73 metres (5.7 ft)
Parents Anthony and Linda Jones
Stuart James Campbell

Stuart Campbell
Born 21 February 1958 (1958-02-21) (age 53)
Maldon, Essex, England
Conviction(s) Abduction and Murder
Penalty 10 years and Life (min. 20 years)
Status Convicted
Occupation Builder
Spouse Debbie Jones
Children 2

The murder of Danielle Jones was an English murder case where no body was found and the conviction relied upon forensic authorship analysis of text messages sent on the victim's mobile phone. Danielle Sarah Jones,[1] (16 October 1985 - c. 18 June 2001), was last seen alive on 18 June 2001; her body has never been found.

Jones' uncle Stuart Campbell, a builder, was convicted of abduction and murder on 19 December 2002. Campbell was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder as well as 10 years for abduction.

After the trial, controversy arose when it was revealed Campbell had prior convictions for indecent assault on other girls of similar ages.[2] The use of forensic authorship analysis of text messages in the case provoked research into its use in other cases.[3]


Disappearance and investigation

Jones was last seen near her home in East Tilbury, Essex, on the morning of 18 June 2001, while walking to a bus stop.

Suspicion fell on Campbell almost immediately and he was first arrested on 23 June 2001, five days after Jones went missing.[4] Detectives had delayed his arrest while weighing the possibility of endangering Jones's life, on the presumption she was still alive and being held against her will, against the possibility of Campbell leading the police to her.[5] During police interviews Campbell was described as "unco-operative". In one 20-minute interview with the police, Campbell refused to comment on 50 questions.[6][not in citation given]

The investigation included several appeals to the public for information, including a reconstruction on the BBC television programme Crimewatch. During the investigation, over 900 police officers and support staff searched over 1500 locations for Jones' body.[7][8]

Murder trial

The police who investigated Jones's disappearance were convinced within two months of her disappearance that she had been murdered, as on 17 August 2001 they had re-arrested Campbell on suspicion of murder, after finding "significant evidence" - an unusual step to take in the case of someone whose body has not been found.[9]

A police superintendent said to the BBC that Campbell "developed a relationship with Danielle that was certainly inappropriate and probably unlawful." Jones apparently tried to disengage, but Campbell resisted. By 14 November 2001, the Crown Prosecution Service decided that the police had enough evidence to prosecute Campbell for murder even though it would be harder to secure a conviction without a body.[5][8]

On 14 October 2002, Campbell went on trial for abduction and murder, having spent 11 months on remand. The trial was unusual in the UK as prosecutions for murder without a body are rare[citation needed]. The Crown's case rested upon several pieces of evidence. Jones had disappeared without contacting her parents and had been seen talking to a man in a blue Ford Transit van resembling Campbell's on the morning of her disappearance. The testing of blood-stained stockings discovered in the loft of Campbell's house found DNA matching both himself and his niece; lip gloss used by Jones was also found in Campbell's home. A diary kept by Campbell revealed an obsession with teenage girls, with testimonies that Campbell had manipulated young girls into posing for topless photographs.


The text message that Campbell claimed Jones had sent to him. This message is in all-capitals. Danielle habitually sent messages in lowercase.[5]

Mobile Switching Center records demonstrated that Campbell's alibi of being at a D-I-Y store half an hour away in Rayleigh was false, and that Campbell's and Jones's mobile phones had been within the range of a single mobile phone mast at the time that a text message had allegedly been sent by Jones to Campbell. This along with forensic authorship analysis indicated that Campbell had written the message, not Jones, implying that Campbell had sent the message to himself using Jones's phone to make it appear that she was still alive.[5][8]

Campbell was found guilty of both charges on 19 December 2002, and sentenced to life imprisonment for murder to run concurrently with a 10-year sentence for abduction. The High Court later ruled that Campbell should serve a minimum of 20 years before being considered for parole, meaning that he is set to remain imprisoned until at least November 2021 and the age of 63.[10]

Aftermath of the trial

After his trial, it was revealed that in 1989, Campbell received a 12-month suspended sentence for forcibly detaining a 14-year-old girl in his house and taking indecent photographs of her.[10]

The use of text messaging evidence in the trial inspired a group of researchers at the University of Leicester to begin studying text messaging styles, in the belief research into the forensic authorship analysis of such things would help with further criminal cases.[11][12][13]

In 2004, Campbell was granted leave to appeal his conviction on the grounds that evidence of his obsession with Jones, and of his interest in schoolgirls, should have been excluded at his trial, and on the further grounds that one of the jurors should have been discharged because they were the next door neighbour of a police officer involved in the case. The appeal was dismissed in 2005 by the Court of Appeal.[14][15]

On 28 July 2005, an inquest by the coroner was held into Jones' disappearance, returning a verdict of unlawful killing. Police interviews with Campbell in prison reported that Campbell had not had anything to say regarding the location of Jones's body.[16][17][18]

Other cases

Contrasts between this case and the murder of Hannah Williams have been drawn, citing the disparity in news media coverage of the two as an example of missing white woman syndrome.[19] Jewkes cites the media coverage of the Jones case as an example of the news media's eroticization of the victim in such cases, pointing to the news media's reports of the "inappropriate" (i.e. abusive) sexual relationship between victim and murderer, and the news media's publication of photographs of the victim's stockings.[20]


  1. ^ "High Court setting of minimum terms for mandatory life sentences under the Criminal Justice Act 2003". Her Majesty's Courts Service. December 9, 2005. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  2. ^ "'Give us Danielle's body' say parents". BBC news. December 19, 2002. Retrieved 2009-02-02. 
  3. ^ Summers, Chris (December 18, 2003). "Mobile phones – the new fingerprints". BBC news. Retrieved 2009-02-02. 
  4. ^ Danielle police question uncle BBC News
  5. ^ a b c d Peter Gould (2002-12-19). "Uncle with a secret obsession". BBC News (BBC). 
  6. ^ Jason Bennetto (2001-08-18). "Police arrest Danielle's uncle and hold him for questioning". The Independent (London: Independent News and Media Limited). 
  7. ^ "Crimewatch appeal for Danielle". BBC News (BBC). 2001-07-11. 
  8. ^ a b c Gould, Peter (2002-12-19). "Proving murder without a body". BBC News (BBC). Retrieved 2006-09-28. 
  9. ^ "Danielle police question uncle". BBC News. 2001-08-17. 
  10. ^ a b "Danielle's uncle jailed for murder". BBC News (BBC). 2002-12-19. Retrieved 2006-09-28. 
  11. ^ "Text messages could solve crimes". BBC News (BBC). 2006-08-10. 
  12. ^ Ian Wishart (2006-08-11). "We will cu in court". Leicester Mercury: pp. 21. 
  13. ^ "Texting study to catch criminals". BBC News (BBC). 2006-08-11. 
  14. ^ "Danielle murder leave to appeal". BBC News (BBC). 2004-04-23. 
  15. ^ "Danielle killer loses appeal bid". BBC News (BBC). 2005-01-21. 
  16. ^ "Police 'won't give up' search for body.". Western Mail. 2005-07-29. 
  17. ^ "Danielle inquest to be held four years after murder". The Daily Telegraph (London: Telegraph Media Group Limited). 2005-07-14. 
  18. ^ David Sapsted (2005-07-29). "Uncle refuses to reveal where Danielle's body can be found". The Daily Telegraph (London: Telegraph Media Group Limited). 
  19. ^ Fiona Brookman (2005). Understanding Homicide. Sage Publications. p. 257. ISBN 0-7619-4755-8. 
  20. ^ Yvonne Jewkes (2004). Media and Crime. Sage Publications. pp. 48–49. ISBN 0-7619-4765-5. 

Further reading

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