True-crime documentaries give you all the drama of a fictional detective series but with none of the clichéd characters. We do not learn that the police officers have a tragic past, drink problem or tricky relationship with an ex. The focus isn’t on a lead detective at all, but on the team and the case.
Code Blue: The Killing of June Fox-Roberts (ITV1) was a good example. It followed South Wales Police and their methodical, considered approach to a horrific murder. The facts of the case could easily be sensationalised. June Fox-Roberts, a 65-year-old great-grandmother, was murdered in her home.
Her decapitated, dismembered body was discovered by her daughter, Abi. There was no motive and no obvious suspect. The police located the victim’s missing head and torso; they were in bags placed around the house, but the forensic search was necessarily slow and careful.
We saw officers going house to house, trying to find CCTV or doorbell footage, but there was little of that in the quiet cul-de-sac where Mrs Fox-Roberts lived. There were clues inside the house – footprints, and hair dye in the bathroom sink. Eventually, a suspect emerged: a dishevelled man spotted living rough in a nearby tyre yard, who turned out to be wearing a jacket and top taken from the victim’s home.
The name of a second man was brought into the mix: Luke Deeley, a missing person in need of medication for mental health issues. The man from the tyre yard and Deeley were found to be one and the same but this part of the story could have been told with more clarity.
Two of Mrs Fox-Roberts’ children appeared throughout the programme. Awfully, one of them had been falsely named online as the murderer, seemingly for no other reason than the fact that they are trans. The other was the daughter who found her mother’s body – the programme began with her shocked 999 call. In the second of two episodes, both spoke eloquently about what a wonderful person their mother was, and how their lives have been forever changed by such a terrible crime.