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  1. ITV Report

Exclusive interview with lead investigator in Melanie Hall murder

Michael Britton has been working on the Melanie Hall murder inquiry since day one.

He was a Detective Sergeant working out of Bath police station when in June 1996 a worried mother came in to report her daughter missing.

'Melanie Hall' was the name of her daughter who had vanished.

The report was passed to D S Britton who escalated it up.

It has been a decade since Melanie's remains were discovered

"Melanie was very close to her family, it was clear she hadn't disappeared on her own accord. Within about three days a detective superintendent was appointed and it became a full-fledged inquiry - a missing person inquiry, yes, but it was run as a murder inquiry very early on."

Little did the Det Sgt know that he would be still working the inquiry nearly a quarter of a century later, even retiring and returning as a civilian officer and being the so-called 'custodian' of the case.

Eleven people have been arrested over the case and Mr Britton believes he has already been in contact with Melanie's murderer.

Investigator Michael Britton believes police have already spoken to Melanie's killer Credit: ITV News

"You can't help but get your hopes up when new lines of investigation come in which look promising. I would be lying if I didn't say you become frustrated that those lines of investigation don't achieve the final result that you want.

"I'm confident the answer is within our database. I think the person has been spoken to at some time in the investigation, but we still need members of the public to give us that final bit of information that will secure a conviction."

Mr Britton was due to retire in October 2009. He had plans for a month off work before returning as a civilian investigator. But days before he was due to retire, a workman found Melanie's remains by the M5.

Melanie vanished 23 years ago

Any plans he had for sunshine and beaches were shelved as the case gained a new lead detective and Det Sgt Britton's encyclopaedic knowledge of the case was called on.

"It does get under your skin. I've been on the inquiry since day one. I have two in-trays on my desk. When members of the public call, that will filter through to me and we will action it.

"It would be an immense triumph to have this case closed. Having been linked to it for 23 years, I've lived with it, we've seen lots of changes over the years, forensic techniques, one of the things that hasn't changed in the resolve and determination of Melanie's family to seek justice for Melanie."