Monday, 5 April 2010

Noel Edmonds Hailed as Norfolk Knobber

Norwich Police have reopened the file on the spate of unsolved indecent exposures in the Norfolk area in the 1980s, with new DNA evidence pointing towards entertainer Noel Edmonds as the perpetrator.

Dubbed the Norfolk Knobber by the local press, the flasher was first spotted in late 1985, when several schoolchildren reported seeing a masked man exposing his genitals outside their school gate. When a teacher was summoned, the man fled.

The masked flasher was seen a further 45 times over the next four years, leaving parents fearing for their children’s safety. The Norwich Police were roundly criticised for their inability to apprehend the perpetrator and hysteria reached a fever pitch when a local man was beaten to death in a local shopping mall when shoppers mistook surreptitious crotch scratching for the beginnings of indecent exposure.

Descriptions of the flasher varied, but most children reported that the man was wearing a Noel Edmonds mask. The television entertainer was gaining fame as the host of Noel’s Telly Addicts during this period, and at the time was quoted as being “shocked and appalled” at the Norfolk Knobber’s exploits.

In 1989 the flasher exposed himself to 17 toddlers at Pertwee Preschool. A number of parents witnessed the incident and took chase. In his haste to escape, the flasher dropped his mask. It was to be the last flashing incident and a year later, Norwich Police closed the case.

In 2008, flashing victim Sue Conrad began a campaign to have the case reopened, insisting that DNA testing be carried out upon the mask, which had languished for almost 20 years in a police evidence lock up. The campaign grew in momentum, with a number of celebrity parents such as Victoria Beckham, Katie Price and Ronan Keating lending their voices to the emotional cause.

Norwich Police finally conceded, and several hairs found in the mask were sent away for analysis and entered into the National DNA Database. The results, which pointed to the DNA in the mask being 99.997 per cent identical to that of Noel Edmonds, have shocked the nation.

In an official statement from Norwich Police, Detective Rob Manson said the police would take this new evidence very seriously.

“The DNA evidence is certainly compelling, and Norwich Police will be looking into this further, in order to bring some closure to the Norfolk Knobber’s many victims.”

Manson said the police are “flabbergasted” by the use of the Noel Edmonds mask. “He must have seen [use of the mask] as an elaborate double bluff,” he said.

Twenty-eight-year-old Victim Sue Conrad said she was shocked and angry that the man she watched on television every weekend in Noel’s Telly Addicts could behave so indecently towards children.

“He needs to be strung up by his bollocks,” she said. “His exposure has affected my whole life; I’ve never had a boyfriend, never had a proper relationship, and cannot pass a school, park, playground or sweet shop without breaking down. Deal or No Deal was my favourite thing on TV and learning Edmonds may be the Norfolk Knobber has been like being abused all over again.”

Edmonds’ agent Jane Clifton has refused to comment, and the entertainer, said to be struggling financially since the cancellation of his show Noel’s HQ, is reported to be consulting a lawyer.

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