Alexandra Healy KC and Paul Sharkey

Alexandra Healy KC and Paul Sharkey prosecute cold case killing

Alexandra Healy KC and Paul Sharkey appeared for the Crown at the trial of John Apelgren at the Central Criminal Court.

On 16 June 2023 Mr Apelgren was unanimously convicted of one count of manslaughter, relating to the killing of  Eileen Cotter in 1974, and one count of indecent assault, relating to an assault on a guest at his own wedding in 1972.

At the time of her death, Miss Cotter was working as a sex worker in the Finsbury Park area of north London. She died by manual strangulation.

The prosecution of Mr Apelgren follows a cold case review in 2012 of samples taken from Miss Cotter’s body during the original investigation, which recovered the DNA of the likely perpetrator. At that time, Mr Apelgren’s DNA was not on the National DNA Database and so no-one could be linked to the offence. However, in 2019 Mr Apelgren was arrested for an assault on his wife, for which he received a police caution, and his DNA was taken. Mr Apelgren’s DNA was found to match the DNA recovered from Miss Cotter.

When interviewed by police, Mr Apelgren denied having ever knowingly been with a sex worker and denied any knowledge of the offence. He did not give evidence at trial.

The prosecution successfully applied to put before the jury evidence showing that, in the late 1970s, Mr Apelgren had assaulted his then wife by strangling her, which was of relevance given Miss Cotter’s manner of death.

The trial judge, Mrs Justice May is due to sentence Mr Apelgren for the offences of manslaughter and indecent assault on 23 June 2023.

Alexandra and Paul were instructed by Devi Kharran of the Crown Prosecution Service Homicide Team.