RICKIE Tregaskis was finally convicted of the Le Geyt estate stabbings thanks to evidence from four old faces who came forward to ensure justice was done.
The now 53-year-old thought he had got away with the murder of Barbara Griffin and attempted murder of her aunt Emma Anton, when he walked free from the Royal Court in 1991 in the knowledge that a defendant could not be tried for the same offence twice.
But a change in double jeopardy laws many years later – and his habit of boasting about carrying out the horrific attack in the early hours of 2 August 1990 – would prove to be his downfall.
The four – Tregaskis’s half-sister Diane Harvey, and his former criminal associates Darren Hare, Terry Chapman and Marie Dean – all told the authorities that the Islander had confessed to them, and what’s more, they were prepared to give evidence if the case came to court again.
The origins of the States police’s cold-case review of the Le Geyt stabbings can be traced back to 2009, when the force began re-analysing the most serious outstanding cases, including two murders and a number of sexual assaults and missing persons inquiries.
Three years later, then Detective Chief Inspector Lee Turner was asked to carry out a more thorough review of both murders – the Le Geyt case and the notorious unsolved murder of Finnish au pair Tuula Hoeoek in 1966.
Det Chief Insp Turner decided that the Le Geyt case had the potential to be taken forward, and the cold-case investigation was launched in earnest in 2018.
‘We set about trying to find people who were known to Tregaskis,’ said Mr Turner, who retired in 2019 and is now a senior civilian investigator with the States police.
‘Through that investigative avenue we identified four people to whom he appears to have made confessions.’
From the outset, the force knew they already had one piece of confession evidence.
In 1998, Diane Harvey, then known as Diane Dixon, approached the authorities to say that Tregaskis, her half-brother, had confessed to her about killing Michael Josey in the Cornish fishing village of Mevagissey the previous year.
During the same conversation, he also admitted being the man behind the Le Geyt attacks.
Her evidence would prove crucial to the Josey case – ultimately leading to Tregaskis being convicted of murder and sentenced to life in jail.
But in 1998, the authorities were unable to use the apparent confession to reignite the Jersey case, as Tregaskis had already been acquitted and could not be retried for the same offence.
The retrial was made possible by the scrapping of the UK’s double jeopardy laws in 2005, which now enables prosecutors to bring a new case forward if they have new and compelling evidence.
As the cold-case review progressed, Marie Dean came forward to report that her former friend Tregaskis had also confessed to her.
At the time of the offence in 1990, she was known as Dean Marie – a name that would become synonymous with the first trial as she refused to appear as a prosecution witness and fled to the UK.
In a surprise twist midway through the original trial, Tregaskis dramatically attempted to point the finger at his former friend, telling the judge: ‘I think he done it, sir.’
But by 2010, Ms Marie was ready to talk to the police, and would tell them that Tregaskis confessed to her twice – first on the morning of the murder, and again when he was acquitted in 1991.
Investigators then approached Mr Hare, who would tell them that Tregaskis had confessed to him in La Moye prison in August 1990, while on remand for the Le Geyt killing.
The fourth new witness, Mr Chapman, would say that Tregaskis confessed to him in the summer of 1997.
‘All three of them [Dean, Hare and Chapman] had been carrying burdens of guilt for not coming forward before and my belief is that they felt relieved to be able to talk about it,’ said Mr Turner.
‘Before our approaches they probably thought he couldn’t be tried again anyway, so they probably thought there was no point coming forward.
‘They have all expressed feelings of guilt for not coming forward, particularly in respect of Darren Hare and Marie Dean, who both expressed guilt that if they had come forward when they first heard about it, Mr Josey’s death may have been averted.
‘They now carry that sense of responsibility.’
With no forensic evidence, no murder weapon and no clear motive, the new trial hinged on the four new witnesses and their stories of confessions.
Despite three of the four previously declining to come forward, Mr Turner was confident that they would all see the case through and take to the witness stand.
‘Marie Dean and Darren Hare, by their own admission, have got extensive criminal backgrounds but they will both say that what Rickie Tregaskis had admitted to doing that night had overstepped the mark and they felt an obligation to do the right thing.
‘That moral fortitude and the guilt they felt made us confident they would see this through.’
In November last year, the Court of Appeal formally quashed Tregaskis’s not guilty verdicts and ordered a retail. He was then transferred from prison in the UK to La Moye.
Although the case against Tregaskis was strong, it is still not known why he attacked Mrs Griffin and Miss Anton that night.
Evidence at the latest trial suggests it could have been a burglary which turned horribly violent. But unless Tregaskis comes forward with a full confession, the truth will never be known.
However, his list of criminal convictions show a clear pattern of a man who is prone to what Mr Turner describes as ‘random, unprovoked, vicious’ assaults.
In March of 1990 – five months before the murder – Tregaskis was released from a prison sentence for attacking a man in the street in the Springfield area.
He soon got a girlfriend and a job at Le Riches cash and carry – the same company Mrs Griffin had worked for, although there is no evidence they knew each other.
The relationship broke down in April and he lost his job in July. Two weeks later, he attacked 85-year-old Miss Anton in her bed before fatally stabbing 59-year-old Mrs Griffin.
Tregaskis, who had a long history of committing break-ins and theft in his teenage years, seemingly kept out of trouble for many months after being cleared of the Le Geyt attacks in the autumn of 1991.
But he resurfaced in October 1993 when he stabbed a doorman at Raffles Nightclub, and he was later jailed for six-and-a-half years for the grave and criminal assault and a number of other offences he had admitted to committing the previous year.
After serving most of the sentence in the UK, he was released on licence, on the condition that he lived with his father in Mevagissey. Less than five weeks later, he kicked Mr Josey to death because he thought the 54-year-old had looked at him the wrong way.
Later, as the police continued to investigate the killing, Tregaskis moved to Guernsey before savagely assaulting a rough sleeper in Patriotic Street car park just hours after returning to Jersey.
Prosecutors later agreed to drop the case in order to allow Tregaskis to be sent to the UK for the Mevagissey murder – a case which rested on the confession evidence provided by his half-sister.
He was convicted in 1999 and jailed for life with a minimum tariff of 20 years. Although the tariff expired in 2019, Tregaskis, who now suffers from multiple sclerosis and is largely confined to a wheelchair, is still believed to be too dangerous for release.
‘For Emma Anton to wake up to find herself being attacked must have been her worst nightmare,’ said Mr Turner.
‘It must have been terrifying. And for Barbara who, it appears, heard her screams and was attacked somewhere in the doorway of Emma’s bedroom or in the hallway just outside.
‘He was prone to random violence then and the assessment is that he is still a danger to the public today,’ said Mr Turner.
Despite her ordeal, Miss Anton, who was born in Guernsey and had worked as a chef in Paris, lived a long life, passing away in 2007 at the age of 103.