Peter Bleksley on Hunting Wanted Murderer – Kevin Parle
Written by Alex Smith
“There’s only two things that will stop me … Parle’s capture or my death – that’s it.” - Peter Bleksley
Former detective and undercover cop, Peter Bleksley, is best known for catching pretend fugitives on Channel 4’s Hunted. Since leaving the show, Bleksley has decided to chase a real one.
The fugitive he’s chosen is alleged double murderer, Kevin Parle – a man who has been on the run for over 15 years.
Parle is wanted for the killing of sixteen-year-old boy, Liam Kelly, in Liverpool on 19th June 2004. He is also wanted for murdering twenty-two-year-old, mother of three, Lucy Hargreaves. This was also in Liverpool on 3rd August 2005.
The hunter tracking him down - Peter Bleksley
Credit - @PeterBleksley on Twitter
Liam Kelly died as a result of two shotgun wounds. It’s believed Liam lent a man £200 and when this money wasn’t returned to him he went to the man’s home to get it. This led to Liam throwing a bicycle through the man’s window. He was then called to a something known as a ‘straightener’: where criminals meet to resolve an issue. It was there he was killed.
Six-foot-six inches with ginger hair; Parle was arrested along with a number of other suspects. A woman gave an alibi for Parle and he was later released on bail. Anthony Campbell has since been given life imprisonment for murder for his part of the crime. Meanwhile, Peter Sinclair received an eight-year sentence for assisting the crime and the woman who provided an alibi for Parle was given a short jail term for perverting the course of justice after it was later deemed false.
A wanted poster used by Bleksley to help find Parle.
Lucy’s murder was perhaps even more grim. Three masked men broke into her home and shot her three times on the sofa. Upstairs were one of Lucy’s children and her partner, Gary Campbell. After the shooting, the house was set on fire but her partner and child both escaped jumping out of a window.
Anthony Downes and Kirk Bradley stood trial but due to there not being enough evidence they were freed. Twelve years before Lucy’s murder, Gary Campbell was a passenger in a stolen car. This car crashed into pedestrians, killing four-year-old Kevin Downes, Anthony’s brother. Downes is rumoured to have wanted revenge for what happened and brought Parle in to help assist him with the crime.
Who is Kevin Parle?
Parle does not have a typical criminal’s background of “social deprivation or being raised surrounded by crime” said Bleksley. He is from the South of Liverpool and Bleksley describes Parle’s upbringing as “semi detached” adding: “he did not come from the tough side of the street.” Parle went to Liverpool College, a fee-paying school and he’s been described as smart and intelligent. Despite his size people say in his early days he wasn’t a “typical hard nut”, Bleksley tells me that Parle supports Liverpool FC and joined a football ‘hooligan firm’ called the Urchins in his younger years. People who knew him at the time told Bleksley he was “a bit of a clown, the designated driver - who would hire the mini-bus and drive them to away games.”
Kevin Parle's Police Mugshot (enhanced by John Moore's University)
What we do know is that Kevin Parle was always determined to make money. He had funds stashed away in different locations and had invested heavily in a business before he went on the run, according to Bleksley’s investigations. We also know in the early days of Parle’s life in criminal organisations he was only trusted to “run the kids” in the words of Bleksley. “I’m told he wanted to prove himself to be the big notorious gangsters of Liverpool. Trust didn’t come because of his upbringing. It might not be beyond the realms of possibility proving himself - heavily played a factor in Liam’s ghastly murder but he’s not convicted so we’ve got to be careful” as he hypothesises further possible motives.
Why hasn’t Kevin Parle been found?
To be able to remain on the run for such a long time Kevin Parle must have a network harbouring and funding him.
Peter Bleksley spent over 10 years an undercover cop. He negotiated with criminals all over the world pretending to be a South London gangster. He was responsible for bringing in what was at the time the largest quantity of heroin ever imported into the UK in an undercover operation. It was in this operation, in which terrorist organisations were involved, the criminals found out he was a cop when he didn’t appear in court with them. The FBI discovered there was a plot to kill him under the idea that if they kill him they kill the evidence. He was then put into witness protection after any threat to him was over he began his media career.
Bleksley explained, using his vast experience of dealing with people in high-level criminality, why Parle is such an asset to them.
"When you've got a 6ft 6in man wanted in connection with two murders, and you make no secret of that, next to you - it’s a very sobering thought for the people you're negotiating with."
- Peter Bleksley
“Now picture the scene, somebody is negotiating to buy an enormous quantity of Class A drugs, when I was undercover sometimes I would want a ‘minder’, who I would ask for from the undercover register” he explains. “The biggest ugliest bloke that we had, because when I was negotiating with criminals you would say with your brute looking muscular thug stood next to you, you would say - now you’re not going to supply me with sub standard drugs are you? And you're not going to try and rip me off; rob me for my money are you?” he continued.
“Because if you do my mate here is going to get rather upset. And of course when you've got a 6ft 6in man wanted in connection with two murders, and you make no secret of that, next to you - it’s a very sobering thought for the people you're negotiating with. That’s why he's an asset.”
It’s now Bleksley’s desire to try to turn Parle from an asset to a liability. He wants him to become, “too hot to handle. If I achieve that then I feel organised crime will give him up or cut him loose.”
Never Going to Stop
Bleksley describes his hunt for Parle as “my life’s work” and he vows not to stop until he is found, he’s now been searching for the fugitive for 19 months.
There was a rumour circulating that Kevin Parle could be dead, but recent evidence disproves this claim. In the early stages of the hunt, a lot of people told Bleksley “‘you're wasting your time, you'll need a deep sea diving suit, he's in the bottom of the Mersey’”. Bleksley, however, is far from convinced who describes it as “an urban myth.” “It’s a very convenient rumour if you’re Kevin Parle because it will demotivate people but I know he is out there, I know he is alive.” To the people that promote Parle’s death, Peter Bleksley has always said one thing, “prove it.”
"I know he is out there, I know he is alive"
- Peter Bleksley
In another attempt by certain people to try to stop Peter Bleksley continuing his investigation he has been the victim of intimidating messages and posts. “I have had pictures of my house posted on the Internet twice, once with an accurate description of the bedroom I sleep in: it's pretty close to home. None of it will ever dissuade or stop me. There’s only two things that will stop me, two things only, number one is Parle’s capture and number two is my death – that’s it.”
Bleksley says his family are fully supportive of what he is doing, he jokes, “I went shopping with my wife the other day. She said can we have one day where you don’t talk about Kevin bloody Parle. Then a few minutes later the phone rang and boom I was off again – sorry darling no we can’t,” he laughs.
To help raise the profile of the crimes Parle is wanted for, the BBC commissioned a podcast series, Manhunt, which has so far amassed 2.5 million downloads and there are more episodes to come. Bleksley has also written a book of the same title that he jokes is “the longest wanted poster written in the history of mankind”, as well as appearing as a guest on many popular podcasts on radio shows to discuss his search but Bleksley intentions remain clear. The hunt is “not really even about Kevin Parle believe it or not, it’s most certainly not about me, it’s about Liam and Lucy - that is my motivation. That’s who I’m doing it for.”
He makes his intentions clear, “at the time of writing the book I had earned £8,000 from the podcast and book advance, I have not put one single carrot on my family’s dining room table, it’s all been ploughed into the hunt.” His search has taken him multiple times to Liverpool, where the crimes were committed and is Parle’s hometown and as far as Spain to follow a potential leads. All expenses have to be paid for and he repeats a phrase coined while he was a guest on popular podcast Jaackmaate’s Happy Hour, “Parle not profit.”
Front cover of the book, Manhunt, written by Peter Bleksley.
"It's about Liam and Lucy - that is my motivation"
- Peter Bleksley
Dear Parle, …
I asked Peter Bleksley what his message to Kevin Parle would be. It was simply: “I'm going to find you.”
“It might take a week, a month, another year, or a decade. Law enforcement have been looking for him for over 16 years and I've been looking for him for 19 months so I've still got a long way to go before I am anywhere near as unsuccessful as they are. So I'm never going to stop, quite simple.”