When one of the most respected Police Officers I know of recommends a true crime Podcast it has to be worth having a listen. So thank you Colin Sutton, I took heed, and this is why I think it’s the best podcast I’ve listened to.
Jane MacSorely is an award winning TV Producer who worked for the BBC, but is now a freelance investigative journalist based in Scotland.
This podcast follows her investigation into the case of a man facing extradition, from the UK back to the United States, where he is wanted by the police on Rape charges.
The problem is the man in the UK has a different name, and claims he is not the man wanted by the American Police.
MacSorely wants to get to the bottom of this. Is it a case of mistaken identity by the authorities, or is the man weaving an elaborate web of lies to escape justice?
A little more about the case shortly but first a bit about how it’s presented.
As well as being a true crime investigation it’s just as much about the investigator. Jane MacSorely takes us on a ride from the start of her intrigue into the case, all the way to her conclusion.
The podcast is presented in almost a diary form. Her recordings are amazing. We hear her change her mind, we hear her frustrations, she live records her reactions to breaking news, she tells us how she feels following interviews.
It is a real eye opener for those who have never been involved in an investigation.
Me. I am a Fire Investigator, I have been involved in quiet a few criminal investigations, and I can empathise with MacSorely’s feelings throughout this podcast. And I never thought I’d say that about a journalist.
As an investigator you constantly build hypothesis. You use the “scientific method” to test the hypothesis. If it’s robust you consider it. If it isn’t you disregard it. This might take seconds in your own head, or it might take days, or weeks, of research, but it has to be done, and it will, and should, lead to you changing your mind, until you reach the right conclusion.
MacSorely does this in public, out loud, in the nine episodes of this podcast. At times she believes the man is who he says he is, and at times she thinks he’s the man the Americans say he is. What she doesn’t do is let any cognitive bias she may develop, in either belief, get in the way of her finding the truth. As much as she may want him to be Nicholas, or as much as she may want him to be Arthur, what she really wants is to know the TRUTH.
So who is Nicholas, and who is Arthur.
Nicholas is an American man. When he was young he portrayed himself as being a high achiever in the political world, working for politicians from a ridiculously young age.
He was a child placed into care, where he alleges he was abused.
He is a massive self publicist and sees himself as an important person, seeking an almost celebrity status.
Then he is accused of abusing somebody and receives a criminal conviction.
Shortly after that he announces he has advanced cancer and disappears from public view until his death is reported and his and his “wife” starts to try and arrange a public memorial service for him.
The American Police say he has faked his own death and that he has fled the Country.
Arthur is an unwell man. He has suffered badly with Covid and presents as a weak individual confined to a wheelchair and constantly wearing an oxygen mask.
The first encounter with him is following his release from prison where he was being held as a suspected American fugitive awaiting deportation. It was this trial that first attracted Jane MacSorley to the case. He’s out of incarceration but still faces a court battle to prove he is Arthur and not Nicholas.
He is short tempered and manipulative. At times I believed his story, much like MacSorley, and again just like her, I swayed the other way.
There is evidence presented in this podcast that, at first I found spurious, but which later became relevant.
At best the evidence presented in the podcast, and from what I’ve read in the actual Court Trials, is circumstantial, but there’s a lot of it.
There are obvious questions I, and most people would want to ask, which don’t get asked.
Why was no DNA test made. If they don’t have Nicholas’s on file, which I presume they would have as he has convictions in the States, they have close relatives which could have provided samples for familial comparison.
Arthur was being held for deportation before his release on licence, surely his DNA is also on record.
There are numerous images and videos of Nicholas when he was active in America, and although Arthur disguises his face with the oxygen mask and a beard, comparisons could have been made. MacSorely comes close to this with a short glimpsed observation of him without his mask, but no official image comparisons are recorded.
I don’t recall MacSorely digging into the life history of Arthur in the Podcast. Birth Certificate, School records, employment history, even social media history could all have been looked for or into.
A man cannot just appear in 2020 with no past. Yes it’s relatively easy to create a new identity, but it wouldn’t pass a proper scrutiny. Maybe it was done but either didn’t show anything up or didn’t support the narrative, but it should have been mentioned.
Having said that she does an excellent job of finding out the truth. In fact she obtains a piece of evidence that I’m not sure the law agencies dealing with the case found.
The ninth episode brings us right up to date at the time the podcast was released. With the one of the latest court hearing and it’s findings. No spoilers but I was straight on to google to research the outcome and it’s ramifications.
Jane MacSorely has taken this story as far as it could go…….so far.
Why so far? I’ve just seen a few articles that have reported Nicholas/Arthur’s latest Court appearance in mid February 2023. Safe to say this story still has legs.
Available in 9 episodes of varying length.
Available on Audible
Commissioned by the BBC
Narrated by Jane MacSorely.