12-8-2008 United Kingdom:
A convicted sex offender was stabbed to death and had his genitals mutilated during an attack in the caravan where he lived on an industrial estate in south London.
Andrew Cunningham, 52, died of multiple stab wounds to the head, neck and chest on Wednesday. Police confirmed he had previously been on the sex offenders register for an offence committed in 2000 but his name had been removed in March. He was convicted in 2001 and served a four-month prison sentence.
Detective chief inspector Nick Scola, the officer leading the investigation, said Cunningham had been the victim of a "vicious and brutal attack" and he had been stabbed in the groin. Reports that he had been killed by a vigilante mob were unfounded. It is understood that Cunningham had been convicted of having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old girl. Police said it was clearly possible that this was a motive for the murder.
Scola confirmed that the Wandsworth home where Cunningham had previously lived with his now-estranged family had been attacked five years ago but that the incident involved a binliner being set fire outside the door.
"The fact that his genitals were mutilated, and that there was damage to the groin, is one consideration, but it could have been done to confuse the investigation," Scola said. "People in the local area did know of his past. He had been living in that caravan for some months."
The Sun reported that Cunningham had been targeted by a mob of angry locals who chanted "die, paedo die" but officers have discovered no evidence that this was the case. The paper claimed that drinkers in a local pub accused him of fondling the landlady's two-year-old daughter.
"There are no reports whatsoever of a group of people being seen in the area, no reports of anyone chanting, shouting or unusual activity," said Scola.
Cunningham was last seen alive at 6.10pm on December 9 when he was seen in his caravan, which was parked on a private road. He was known to frequent pubs in the local area but yesterday local drinkers refused to talk about the case.
A lorry driver for a haulage company, Cunningham lived next to the yard from which he worked. Alan Hawkins, the owner of a neighbouring yard, said: "He was like your average bloke. I didn't know too much about his history but there were whispers."
Cunningham is known to have locked his caravan from the inside. Scola said: "There was no forced entry and he could well have invited his killer into the caravan."
He added that the killing could never be justified, in spite of Cunningham's history. Police had no reports of further sexual offences committed by him.
"Regardless of who he was or what he may have done, Andrew was the victim of a vicious assault which ended his life," said Scola. "This was a vicious and brutal attack on him and whoever did it is still out there and could easily attack someone else."
A father of five, Cunningham had separated from his family and it is believed that they declined to identify his body.
He was found by his employer when he failed to turn up for work on Wednesday morning.
Police are studying CCTV footage from cameras around the industrial estate which is sited next to Wimbledon dog track.
Scola said he was particularly keen to find out more about Cunningham's movements last Tuesday evening and aspects of his daily life.
He said: "It is vital we establish where he was and who he was with. Many people knew him and he used several pubs in the area."
Sara Payne, the campaigner whose daughter Sarah was murdered by a convicted paedophile in 2000, said the attacker or attackers were "no better" than the man they had killed and that his murder would set back her campaign for the names and addresses of sex offenders to be made available to the public. ..Source.. by Audrey Gillan