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?My last murder case made me delay retirement by 18 months?

Reflections of SIO who held off leaving the service to see child killers behind bars
Published - 13/03/2019 By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle

A senior investigating officer is taking his leave of policing after more than three decades of dedicated service with a “pride” he has achieved his long-term goal of “making a difference” and a resolve to see serious offenders pay for their crimes in time behind bars.

That determination to see justice for Britain’s killers has meant Detective Chief Inspector Steve Whittaker delaying his own retirement to conclude one last case.

Last month the South Yorkshire officer attended Sheffield Crown Court to witness 20-year-old Martin Johnson found guilty of murder and Section 18 wounding of a toddler and jailed for life with a minimum term of 19 years in prison.

Having reached his 30-years’ service landmark in September 2017, he didn’t feel the time was right for him to go because of unfinished business for which he felt responsible.

He admittted: “It’s been an incredibly difficult decision for me to retire from South Yorkshire, because I really don’t want to go in some ways. It is with a heavy heart that I am going.

“I had one final case to see to its conclusion, an investigation into the death of a toddler in Sheffield in May 2018.

“I couldn’t bring myself to retire while that investigation remained ongoing. Now that that case is over, the time is right for me to go.”

By staying on in the service the DCI in “extra time” he can now reflect that in 2018 alone, the murder cases he worked on saw offenders jailed for a total of more than 140 years.

  • Young PC Steve Whittaker

So where did it all begin? Rewind to September 1987 and a fresh-faced 20-year-old who had “always thought about being a policeman” was accepted into the ranks at Leicestershire Police.

He began as a response officer at Loughborough station with a first-ever night duty “baptism of fire” attending the Kegworth air disaster.

DCI Whittaker made his final force move in 1991 to South Yorkshire, first pounding the beat as PC in Rotherham. He switched to Sheffield CID at Attercliffe police station, working on the Manor team which, looking back, is “probably my best time in the police service”.

Fast forward to December 2002 for his most celebrated case – the murder of Gerald Smith in the Spital Hill area of Sheffield that sent shockwaves through the community.

Steve Whittaker recalls: “That case made legal history, because we ended up convicting nine men for his murder.

“It was the first case of its kind, where so many people were found guilty and sent to prison for life for a man’s death. All the men were convicted of murder through joint enterprise.

“That was one of the first cases I can recall in my career where analysis of mobile photo data (including where their phones were and when) was really important.

“Nowadays, the technology and capabilities available to us are amazing, but back then it was totally innovative.

“After that case concluded in mid-2004, I was assigned to work on a proactive operation specifically tasked with disrupting organised criminals and investigating firearms-related crime.”

Promotion tom DS followed and a move to the Major Incident Team covering South Yorkshire.

He added: “While I was there I worked as OIC on several murder investigations, including one that particularly sticks in my mind – the murder of Nawajid Khan in Sheffield in January 2008.

“This was an interesting case that ended up attracting national media attention, because his wife paid a local rap band to kill him. They were unsuccessful in the murder attempt, so she took it upon herself to run

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