Unsolved Murders

Tracey Illman

Age: 19

Sex: female

Date: 24 Mar 1989

Place: Old Kent Road, Bermondsey, London

Source: www.truecrimelibrary.com

Tracey Illman was killed at her bedsit in Old Kent Road in London on 24 March 1989.

She had been stabbed 60 times.

A 29-year-old nanny and a 22-year-old hotel porter were convicted over her murder, the nanny being convicted of conspiracy to murder and the hotel porter being convicted of murder, but the hotel porter's conviction was later quashed on appeal after it was heard that his alibi was strong and that he had not motive whatever to murder her.

The nanny pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder and gave evidence for the prosecution at the hotel porter's murder trial.

It was heard that the hotel porter, who worked at the Chelsea Hotel, had lived with Tracey Illman for the previous two years in a bed sit in Old Kent Road, Bermondsey, and that they had a five-month-old son who was born in October 1988.

It was said that whilst they lived together, Tracey Illman had still been promiscuous.

However, at about the time that Tracey Illman gave birth to their son the hotel porter met the nanny in a local pub. She had just come down from Dailly near Ayr in Strathclyde, Scotland to work as a live-in nanny for a family that lived in Hans Crescent in Knightsbridge near Harrods.

It was claimed that shortly after meeting that they had started a close sexual relationship and would spend nights at a local hotel. It was claimed that the nanny had first thought that she was the only woman in the hotel porter's life and that when she found out about Tracey Illman just before Christmas in 1988 that she became furious and confronted him over it.

It was claimed then that the hotel porter had had expressed a wish to get rid of Tracey Illman and that they had then plotted various ways together of doing it. It was said that the nanny had even made notes about the various methods and schemes that they had devised, with the general idea being that they would do it in such a way as to make it look like an accident or suicide.

It was heard that in March 1989 that the nanny thought that she was pregnant and hired a private investigator for £150 to find out where the hotel porter was living, and that when she found out about the bedsit in Old Kent Road that she turned up on the doorstep and told the hotel porter that she was going to have his baby. The nanny claimed that the hotel porter's first reaction was to insist that she have an abortion, which she said she refused to do, and so she said that they agreed that they would set up house together and would later tell Tracey Illman.

The nanny said that as a result, on the morning of 24 March 1989 that the hotel porter drove her in a borrowed red Mercedes car to the bedsit with the intention of telling Tracey Illman about their affair and to collect his belongings.

However, the nanny said that when they got there that Tracey Illman look contemptuously at her and snapped, 'Who's she?'. She said that when Tracey Illman was told about their affair and that the hotel porter was going to leave her and move in with her, she said that Tracey Illman remarked that she didn't think that he had it in him and that a bitter row erupted.

She said then, however, that the hotel porter suddenly began lunging at Tracey Illman. She said that she was stunned and horrified and just thought that he was punching her but then realised that he had a knife and had been stabbing her repeatedly.

The nanny said that she then flung herself at the hotel porter and tried to drag him off her, but said that he hurled her away and that in the scuffle he cut her arms. The nanny said that after the hotel porter finished stabbing Tracey Illman that he stood over her body and shouted abuse at her.

It was noted that Tracey Illman had been stabbed repeatedly all over her body, suffering about 60 wounds and that she had been stabbed even after the major arteries in her neck had been severed.

The nanny said that after the hotel porter murdered Tracey Illman that he ordered her to tell absolutely no one and told her to burn her clothes. She said that she then immediately went back to her home in Knightsbridge and packed up her things and went back to her home in Main Street, Dailly, Scotland.

She said that after the murder that the hotel porter left the bedsit, leaving Tracey Illman in a pool of blood and his 5-month-old son alone with her and went back to work at the hotel. It was heard at the trial that he had explained his absence at that time by saying that he had been in the luggage room at the hotel.

It was also noted that the hotel porter had had a cut on his head at the time which was later said to have matched a ring that Tracey Illman had been wearing, which he had put down to him having cut it accidently.

The court heard that the hotel porter then spent the rest of the day working as normal and that afterwards he went out drinking, finally getting home to his bedsit at about 10.30pm to find Tracey Illman's body in the blood splattered room.

It was said then that the hotel porter called out for his neighbours in a state of high agitation and said, 'Someone has killed Tracey'. However, at the trial it was claimed that he had been pretending when he had found her body.

It was said then that when the police arrived they found the hotel porter to be unintelligible. However, it was noted that there was nothing to link him to the murder and after being questioned, the hotel porter was released.

It was said that the police had few leads to start off with until the private investigator, that the nanny had hired to trace where the hotel porter had been living, read about the murder in a newspaper and went to the police. When he gave the details of the nanny that had hired him to trace the hotel porter to the bedsit the police traced the nanny to Scotland where she was arrested and flown back to London.

It was said that during the flight back that she had 'spilled out the story'.

By that time the hotel porter had left London and returned to his family home in Britannia Court in Bosham near Chichester in Sussex.

It was said that he was quickly picked up, but that upon hearing that the nanny had been arrested that he had asked the police what the nanny had said.

The police later said that whilst questioning the hotel porter that he broke down and started sobbing and confessed a few times to having murdered her, but when he was later interviewed in the presence of his solicitor he denied having anything to do with her murder.

The trial at the Old Bailey lasted three weeks after which the nanny was sentenced to four years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to murder and the hotel porter was convicted of murder.

The nanny admitted that she had made out the death lists but said that she had had no part in the murder. She said that she had written out the ways of getting rid of Tracey Illman at the hotel porter's dictation, the methods including things like suffocation and electrocution.

The hotel porter denied murdering Tracey Illman and said that he had never had any intention of leaving Tracey Illman and had only wanted the nanny for sex. He accused the nanny of being the murderer.

However, the hotel porter appealed his conviction which was quashed on 21 May 1991.

It was heard that:

  1. The hotel porter's alibi was strong.
  2. That the hotel porter had 'no motive whatever' to murder Tracey Illman.
  3. That there was no evidence that the hotel porter had any great depth of feeling for the nanny.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.


see True Crime Library

see Herald Scotland

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Saturday 10 February 1990

see Newcastle Journal - Wednesday 22 May 1991