FIVE murders, a handful of the usual suspects, one controversial theory. When it comes to solving one of history’s most enduring mysteries – who was Jack the Ripper? – the speculation is endless.

It seems every week a new book hits the shelves purporting to reveal the “true” identity of the killer once and for all.

Was this blood-thirsty fiend who preyed on prostitutes in the East End of London a frenzied woman hater, did he have specialist skill with a knife? What is the real story?

For Trevor Marriott, a former murder squad detective who has been probing the infamous Whitechapel Murders since 2002, the truth is out there – it’s just nobody wants to hear it.

“There was no Jack the Ripper, “ says Trevor. “He doesn’t exist.”

A contentious opinion?

Yes. A correct one? Who knows. That’s the thing with Jack the Ripper, we can’t ever know the truth.

Would we even want to if we could?

All these questions and more will be delved into by Trevor when he brings his one-man show to the Towngate Theatre, in Basildon, on Friday October 30.

Entitled Jack the Ripper- A 21st Century Investigation – based on a Trevor’s book by the same name – he will be revealing to the audience the results of his long and protracted cold case re-investigation into all aspects of a mystery that has kept the world gripped for 27 years.

And one which Trevor believes the results of which may cause many people to rethink their views and perceptions on the case.

Trevor’s investigation into the murders is complex. He has trawled Scotland Yard’s files and used modern-day police techniques backed up with state of the art forensic analysis to uncover the historical whodunnit.

The former murder detective with Bedfordshire Police has also been all over the world scouring documents in a bid to pinpoint who the culprit was. He certainly has the skills to carry out such a feat.

But his biggest gripe is what he believes are the lazy myths and manipulations spread by the media and movie producers over the years which he says have swayed the public into believing things that simply aren’t true about the case.

He said: “We hear it all the time. The same old suspects being wheeled out to be put under the spotlight. But the truth is for most of these so called suspects were never even considered to be the killer by police at the time – some were never on the radar while others were barely ‘persons of interest’.

“I understand that tourists want to go on these Ripper walks in London and be ‘entertained’ but my work is about uncovering the facts and making an analysis based on the evidence, nothing else.”

Among the suspects’ names we hear bounded about time and time again is a man with Essex connections – Sir William Gull. He was Queen Victoria’s private doctor.

Born in Colchester, he later lived in Thorpe-le-Soken. It was Gull who was unmasked as the Ripper in the 1988 TV movie Jack the Ripper starring Michael Caine.

But Trevor says: “There’s no way he was the Ripper. He was never a suspect. He was 70 at the time and had just suffered a stroke, he was in really poor health and the man could hardly walk.

“Neither was it Queen Victoria’s grandson, Prince Albert Victor, who had concrete alibis for most of the murders, including one where he was actually dining with the Queen when a murder was taking place.”

Another more recent suspect, Francis Tumblety, was locked up in prison at the time of at least one of the murders, he added.

So why do these theories last through the ages?

“Because people love a good conspiracy theory that’s why,” added Trevor.

“Some of the films that have been made about the Whitechapel Murders have blurred the lines between the cold hard facts and sometimes quite ridiculous fiction.”

Just because Trevor doesn’t believe in Jack the Ripper as a one man killing machine per se, doesn’t mean he doesn’t think there was a serial killer who murdered most likely three of the given Ripper victims.

“My lengthy investigations have led me to believe there was no singular Jack the Ripper and the myth surrounding him came about as a result of an overzealous newspaper reporter named Thomas Bulling,” he explained.

“In 1888 Bulling penned a letter which he signed ‘Jack the Ripper’ and sent it to the Central News agency – the Victorian equivalent of the modern day Press Association.”

Trevor believes this sparked and shaped the way we now look at the Whitechapel murders of 1888.

“From that day forth Jack the Ripper was born and the myth created. A myth, that has continued to intrigue and fascinate people worldwide to this very day. With the press today still clambering for a new Ripper story, or suspect.”

Trevor also believes the public have been misled into thinking that there were only five murdersoriginally attributed to Jack the Ripper.

“This is not correct, there were other murders before and after these accepted five and these are recorded in police records as being part of ‘The Whitechapel Series’,” he said.

“A close examination of not only the accepted five murders but the additional ones clearly shows that they could not have all been killed by the same killer. On that basis we are able to say that there was no singular Jack the Ripper.”

Trevor has also come up with an interpretation for the odd graffiti which was daubed in chalk on a wall under an archway in Goulston Street a quarter of a mile from the scene of the murder of one of the victims – Catherine Eddowes.

It read: “The Juwes [sic] are not the men to be blamed for nothing,”

and Ripper lore has long held this was an anti-semitic reference to the “Jews” which was mistakenly spelled.

The graffiti has been suggested as being written by the killer but Trevor thinks otherwise.

“This was a long way from the murder scene, I don’t think this had any reference to the murder at all. People have mulled over this for years, thinking it’s a cryptic clue left by the killer but my research suggests it was a simple piece of unconnected graffiti.

“I think it could possibly even have been a reference to “the jurors are the men”, not the Jews. As we know only men could serve on juries at the time.”

Not every ripperologist shares Trevor’s analysis of the evidence. All the results of his investigation are to be found in Trevor’s latest book, Jack the Ripper The Secret Police Files, which Trevor has struggled to find a publisher for – and the answer to that is simple, he says.

“It’s because they don’t want to be seen to be shattering the myth by publishing a book which proves all that has gone before is incorrect and has been misleading to the public.”

“The Ripper mystery has fascinated people worldwide for years but it has been propped up with pillars of myths and twisted facts.

“Remove the pillars and what are we left with? The answer is nothing more than a series of similar unsolved murders that otherwise would have drifted into obscurity.”

Trevor has also toured the UK giving talks about serial killers. It’s all a bit macabre but of course he must have seen some pretty nasty stuff in his previous career.

“I saw some terrible things of course working as a police officer and even with the Ripper murders all this time later you still feel empathy for the victims.

We are only human.”

On an interesting note Trevor says when he does his murder themed theatre tours at least 80 per cent of the audience is made up of women.

“I think women definitely have a dark fascination with murder and serial killers,” he said.

As for Jack, the big question is, who was he in Trevor’s opinion, if for arguments sake we agree he did exist and he did murder at least five women?

“Well my investigation shows the most plausible explanation was that he was a German man named Carl Feigenbaum.

“He was sentenced to death in 1894 for the brutal murder of a woman in New York where he slit her throat.

“After his execution in the electric chair his attorney revealed he believed he could have been the Ripper.”

Trevor has travelled to New York and Germany to track down the paperwork and piece together the clues. He found that Feigembaum’s solicitor’s suspicions could have been right.

“There are several reasons including that he was in the merchant navy and we managed to find the ship he was on was in the docks in London just a few miles from Whitechapel on every murder date except one.

“We will never know but he’s the strongest candidate to me.”

Countless Ripper buffs, both amateur and professional have helped keep the legend alive. Does Trevor class himself as a so called ripperologist?

“I suppose I am,” he said, “but I’m not obsessed, I’m not an anorak. I don’t even own a raincoat!”

Catch Trevor’s Jack the Ripper talk at the Towngate Theatre on Friday October 30. Tickets cost £12.50.