ITV's new thriller The Suspect got underway tonight (29th August), kicking things off with a tense sequence which saw psychologist Dr. Joe O'Loughlin (Aidan Turner) rescue a teenager who was contemplating suicide by jumping from a hospital's window ledge, seven storeys up.


Joe's actions saw him hailed a hero, but his squeaky-clean image soon came under scrutiny when his connection to a murdered nurse was unearthed.

Did Joe kill his former patient Catherine? Or is the real culprit someone else entirely? Can it really be that all the evidence apparently pointing to Dr. O'Loughlin is, as he insists, just "a series of coincidences"?

Join us as we unpack all the clues from the first episode of The Suspect.

Did Joe kill Catherine?

First, let's consider the evidence that suggests Joe is the murderer – and there's quite a bit of it.

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Most obviously, Joe knew Catherine – she was his former patient – and had a possible motive to kill her, with Catherine having previously accused Joe of sexual assault. Though she later withdrew the allegations and he was cleared of any wrongdoing, the incident almost ruined Joe's career and his marriage – giving him reason enough to bear a grudge.

It's also possible that he's lying about the exact nature of their relationship prior to the accusation: Joe claims Catherine was "infatuated" with him and that he didn't reciprocate her feelings, but Catherine's flatmate in Liverpool claims she was "seeing someone in London".

Was Joe having an affair with Catherine? Was it still going on at the time of her death, or did Joe break it off years earlier, which led to her making a false accusation of assault?

Shaun Parkes as Ruiz and Anjli Mohindra as DS Riya Devi.
Shaun Parkes as DI Ruiz and Anjli Mohindra as DS Devi in ITV's The Suspect ITV

It's revealed that, prior to her murder, Catherine had applied to replace Meena (Carys Bowkett) in her administrative role at Joe's practice, which might chime with the idea that Catherine was obsessed with Joe and hoped to be near him in London. Plus, Joe shreds Catherine's application form when it lands on his desk – a strange thing to do if he's not guilty of something.

DS Devi (Anjli Mohindra) also suspects that Joe might've orchestrated their first meeting in order to insert himself into the investigation into Catherine's death – a not uncommon habit of serial killers – and, once hired as a civilian profiler, he lies to the police repeatedly, including neglecting to mention that he recognises Catherine when he examines her body.

There's also the fact that Joe and his family were present at the cemetery at the exact time when Catherine's body was uncovered. DI Ruiz (Shaun Parkes) was already suspicious given that the call to the police notifying them about the body's discovery was made from a burner phone. "What if it wasn’t a dog walker who dialled it in?" wonders Ruiz. "What if it was the killer using a burner? Gets a kick out of seeing us find her.”

Did Joe make the call? Did he, as Ruiz suggests, 'get a kick' out of watching the police find Catherine's body, which he'd buried sometime earlier? His DNA is certainly present on one of the spades at the cemetery, which Joe claims happened when he moved the tool from his mother's graveside. ("You remember the spade, right?" he asks his wife, who nods rather unconvincingly.)

Even Joe's diagnosis of early onset Parkinson's doesn't serve as much of an alibi – given that Catherine's wounds were all self-inflicted (as Joe himself says, "Somebody forced her to kill herself."), it's possible he still could've been responsible for her murder in some way.

Then again... if Joe killed Catherine, why does he appear so surprised / distressed when he sees her body at the mortuary? If he was the one who buried his former patient in the cemetery, and later knowingly watched the police discover her, then he'd surely suspect it might be her body that he was being asked to inspect?

True, he later whispers, "I'm so sorry," to the late Catherine, but this could be a sign of genuine sadness rather than guilt.

Did Bobby kill Catherine?

Aidan Turner as Doctor Joe O’Loughlin in ITV's The Suspect
Aidan Turner as Dr. Joe O’Loughlin and Bobby Schofield as Bobby Moran in ITV's The Suspect ITV

So if Joe didn't kill Catherine, who did? The most obvious alternative suspect so far is Bobby Moran (Bobby Schofield), a troubled young man who was referred to Joe by his friend and fellow medical professional Dr. Gerald Owens (Adam James).

Bobby has form – he's awaiting sentencing for violently assaulting another woman. He appears to incriminate himself by insisting that "some people really deserve to die" and uttering a series of sinister whispers ("The only time she sleeps alone is when she’s in the ground – and she will sleep."). Most damning of all, he's obsessed with the number 21 and Catherine was stabbed 21 times.

Then again, all of the above would make Bobby the perfect patsy if Joe wanted to commit murder and frame someone else. Joe already knew about Bobby's obsession with "21" ("We talked before about this number being important to you, didn’t we?" he says, during their first on-screen session) so could've used this to divert suspicion away from himself and towards his patient.

We see Joe suggest to Gerald that Bobby might somehow be linked to Catherine's murder, and tell his friend Dr. Rachael Fenwick (Sian Clifford) that he finds Bobby "unsettling" and that Meena is "terrified" of him – is he expressing genuine concern, or is this all part of Joe's plan to plant the blame for his crime elsewhere?

One week to go until our next batch of clues.

The Suspect continues on Monday nights at 9pm on ITV, with episodes also available after broadcast on ITV Hub.

Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.


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