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The biggest revelations from The Real Serpent: Investigating a Serial Killer

The Real Serpent: Investigating a Serial Killer (Channel 4)
The Real Serpent: Investigating a Serial Killer sees Charles Sobhraj speak out for the first time since being released from prison in Nepal. (Channel 4)

In The Real Serpent: Investigating a Serial Killer, convicted murderer Charles Sobhraj speaks out for the first time since his 19-year prison sentence for the murders of Connie Jo Bronzich and Laurent Carrière.

The Channel 4 documentary sees the suspected serial killer face interrogation from former police officers and a forensic psychologist as he continues to attest his innocence. It is believed that he killed twenty people in south and Southeast Asia in the 1970s, 14 of which were murdered in Thailand.

He served a life prison sentence in Nepal from 2002 to 2023 for murder, and was also imprisoned in India between 1976 to 1997 and during this time the statute of limitations on the killings in Thailand had expired. Sobhraj confessed to killing ten people when speaking with Richard Neville and Julie Clarke for their book about him, but has since retracted his statement, and he now denies killing anyone.

The three-part documentary's first episode was released on Tuesday, 19 March and made several interesting revelations about Sobhraj and his crimes.

Charles Sobhraj's relationship with his mother

The Real Serpent: Investigating a Serial Killer (Channel 4)
Charles Sobhraj called his mother 'a selfish woman' but refused to share details of his childhood in the documentary. (Channel 4)

When talking with the filmmakers of the documentary, Sobhraj tells them that he is willing to answer any questions about his life and won't "obstruct" an investigation by the former police officers and forensic psychologist he has agreed to meet. However, when he meets with psychologist Paul Britton he is evasive when it comes to speaking about his mother.

Sobhraj's mother was still alive at the time of filming the documentary in June 2023, she was 100-years-old and unwell, with the convicted murderer saying that he believes she has "lost her memory".

What is telling in his discussion of their relationship is that he called her a "selfish woman" on multiple occasions, saying that she "didn't care" about him and he does not love her. As a child Sobhraj's mother split from his father, remarried, and had other children, and Sobhraj tells Britton that he always wanted to return to his father when staying with his mother and step-father.

Britton questioned him about their relationship during the documentary's first episode, and Sobhraj admitted that he "cannot make myself forgive her", but refused to speak about his childhood in detail as he said he could not remember and had shut himself off from the memories of it. When Britton tried to urge him to share what he might say to his mother if they could be face-to-face, Sobhraj refused.

He said: "What you are now asking it is something very intimate, very personal, and it is a choice if the person wants to talk in front of camera. I don’t think it’s the business of anybody...I have no reason to say it to you, I have no reason to say It to the public. It’s private."

Charles Sobhraj says he stays awake at night thinking he 'can't make a mistake again'

The Real Serpent: Investigating a Serial Killer (Channel 4)
The convicted murderer said he 'did wrong to some people' but continued to attest he didn't kill anyone. (Channel 4)

When visiting Sobhraj in Paris, France, the documentary filmmaker asks him if there is anything that keeps him up at night. The convicted murderer said that "thinking about the future" does.

He explained that he is always thinking about "making plans for the future and making sure not to make a mistake again" now, and when asked if he thinks his past actions were immoral he said: "Well I did wrong, I did some things wrong I have recognised it, I admit it, I did wrong to some people. Those wrongs were, yes, immoral, but I didn’t go to the extent of killing someone."

When pushed about this last statement, Sobhraj once again said "no I didn’t kill anyone", and attested that he would not lie to the filmmakers during the process of making the documentary.

Eyewitness calls Charles Sobhraj a 'pathological liar'

The Real Serpent: Investigating a Serial Killer (Channel 4)
Eyewitness Georgina Nunez recalled travelling with Charles Sobhraj in 1972, and how she found a dead body in the boot of the taxi they were using. (Channel 4)

Despite what he said, an eyewitness to what is believed to be Charles Sobhraj's first killing called him a "pathological liar" when speaking with former Met detective Jackie Malton. Georgina Nunez met Sobhraj whilst backpacking to Asia when she was 18-years-old in 1972, and though she was afraid of him she was unable to escape for some time because he had confiscated her passport.

Nunez shared details of finding a Pakistani taxi driver dead in the boot of a car, a death which Sobhraj explains on camera happened when a man named Fez showed him the body of the driver, who had died of "dehydration because of the heat" and so he felt he "didn't feel [he] was involved". Nunez told the story very differently.

Explaining that she "never" met a man named Fez during their time together, Nunez said that the man who died was a taxi driver who was named Mohammed, and one night Sobhraj came to her hotel room to say they were leaving with his taxi. Whilst driving she claims that Sobhraj told her that Mohammed was in the boot and he was administering sleeping drugs to him, and he planned to leave him on the side of the road where he'd wake up and realise his car had been stolen.

She alleged that after Sobhraj had stopped the car several times to give the driver the sleeping drug she had enough and went to look in the boot herself where she saw Mohammed "in a pool of blood" and could tell that he was dead. When she confronted Sobhraj, she said, he simply called it "a mistake" and laughed, before telling her "don’t you testify against me because I will kill you if you testify."

Chilling tapes see Charles Sobhraj confess to drug and threaten alleged murder victim

The Real Serpent: Investigating a Serial Killer (Channel 4)
The Real Serpent: Investigating a Serial Killer features recordings of an interview Charles Sobhraj did in the 1970s, where he recalled drugging and threatening his first known alleged victim, Teresa Knowlton. (Channel 4)

Malton is investigating Sobhraj's link to five murders for the documentary, and had a heated conversation when him when she confronted him about the killings. But another interesting moment in the documentary is when Malton receives audio recordings of Sobhraj's interview with Richard Neville and Julie Clarke for their book about him.

The tapes see Sobhraj detail an exchange with Teresa Knowlton, his first known alleged victim, in which he drugged and threatened her. In the tape, a young Sobhraj says that Knowlton questioned whether he had given her a drug and he responded: "I’m sorry I think I have to do something very bad to you".

When she asked if he was going to "beat" her Sobhraj said he told her: "No I’m going to do something better to you". The threat is believed to be referencing his plan to kill her.

Malton was aghast by the recording, sharing: "It’s almost like he takes huge delight in saying that, there’s no shame, there’s no remorse." She was also shocked when he laughed after telling Neville and Clarke that he "hope[s] all this stuff won’t hang me one day", and she said that has made her even more determined to catch him.

The Real Serpent: Investigating a Serial Killer is airing as a three-night event on Channel 4 at 9pm.

Watch: Charles Sobhraj is freed from prison in Nepal