Press Centre

Code of a Killer

  • Episode: 

    1 of 2

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Mon 06 Apr 2015
  • TX Confirmed: 

    Yes
  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.30pm
  • Week: 

    Week 15 2015 : Sat 04 Apr - Fri 10 Apr
  • Channel: 

    ITV
  • Status: 

    New
The information contained herein is strictly embargoed from all press, online and social media use, non-commercial publication, or syndication until Thursday 26 March 2015.
 
Series overview
 
Two of the UK’s most renowned actors, David Threlfall and John Simm, join forces in new ITV drama Code of a Killer, produced by World Productions.
 
Code of a Killer is based on the extraordinary true story of Alec Jeffreys’ discovery of DNA fingerprinting and its first use by Detective Chief Superintendent David Baker in catching a double murderer.  
 
The drama focuses on how Jeffreys’ science and Baker’s investigative vision created the single biggest leap in the history of criminal investigation. 
 
David Threlfall takes the role of David Baker who between 1983 and 1987 headed up the investigation into the brutal murders of two Leicestershire schoolgirls, Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth.
 
Only a few miles away, Dr Alec Jeffreys, played by John Simm, was a scientist at Leicester University who, on 10 September 1984, invented a remarkable technique to read each individual's unique DNA fingerprint. 
 
Episode 1
 
In 1983, in a small village outside Leicester, 15-year-old Lynda Mann is found by a footpath, raped and strangled to death. A year on, after an exhaustive but fruitless search for the killer, Detective Chief Superintendent David Baker is forced to scale down the investigation.
 
Meanwhile, just a few miles up the road at the University of Leicester, scientist Dr Alec Jeffreys invents a remarkable technique to read DNA – the unique genetic fingerprint of every individual – something never previously achieved despite decades of research across the globe. His discovery is first put to use in an immigration case, proving the parentage of a young Ghanaian boy and preventing his deportation. The acceptance of Jeffreys’ findings in a court of law opens the door to DNA testing and he and his university laboratory are swamped by paternity and immigration cases.
 
Summer 1986, and 15-year-old Dawn Ashworth goes missing – last seen just a hundred yards from where Lynda's body was discovered. Dawn’s body is found two days later, she has been strangled and hidden in undergrowth near a footpath shortcut. DCS Baker is back on the case – convinced the same culprit has struck again. This time the investigation bears fruit when a young man from the area is seen acting suspiciously at the time of Dawn’s murder, confesses to her killing. However, he refuses to admit he had anything to do with the death of Lynda Mann.
 
Reading about Jeffreys’ work in a local paper, Baker approaches him at the university – perhaps the DNA test can prove the teenagers involvement in Lynda’s death? Jeffreys is hesitant – the DNA sample from the murder scene is nearly three years old, and the technique was not intended or designed for criminal investigation. Furthermore, having only been used in paternity and immigration cases, would the findings be accepted in a criminal court?
 
But Jeffreys is able to obtain a clear genetic fingerprint of the murderer from a sample and it proves that the teenager did not kill Lynda Mann... could the murders have been committed by two different men, or is he innocent?