What Makes a Murderer – C4

John Massey What Makes a Murderer
(Image credit: Channel 4)

Experts set out to discover if murderers are born or made in C4’s new three-part documentary series What Makes a Murderer

On 24 September 1975, career criminal John Massey shot pub bouncer Charlie Higgins at point-blank range with a sawn-off shotgun at the Cricketers bar in Hackney, East London. He served 43 years for his crime before being released last year and is the first subject in C4’s new three-part series What Makes a Murderer.

Professor Adrian Raine and Dr Vicky Thakordas-Desai aim to uncover sociological, biological and psychological factors that may have set Massey on a path to murder.

Vicky finds out John (pictured above with Adrian and Vicky) was abandoned aged three and spent most of his childhood in care, and Adrian scans his brain and makes some remarkable discoveries, including some indicators of psychopathic traits.

‘We were on a pub crawl and in the blink of an eye it’s kicked off,’ reveals John, now 71.

‘With the anger and rage at its peak we decided to arm ourselves and go back.

‘We wanted to hurt them.

‘The bouncer came to the door and I thought he was going to throw a punch.

‘Because the gun was levelled at his chest that’s where he got hit.’

Professor Adrian Raine and Dr Vicky Thakordas-Desai What Makes a Murderer

Professor Adrian Raine and Dr Vicky Thakordas-Desai will investigate more killers in C4’s What Makes a Murderer

But do the findings mean Massey was predisposed to kill? 

‘To me it all makes sense,’ says John.

‘It was just the wrong combination that evening, which I thoroughly regret.

‘A man lost his life and I was responsible.’

For full listings, see our TV Guide.

TV Times rating: ****