Peter Tobin: Dozens of murders re-examined

POLICE forces across the UK are to conduct urgent cold-case reviews of dozens of unsolved murders, after Peter Tobin was convicted for the killing of his third victim.

• Peter Tobin: Killer will stay behind bars until the day he dies. Picture: TSPL

The serial killer was yesterday jailed for life for the murder of 18-year-old Dinah McNicol following a three-day trial. Tobin, 63, of Johnstone, Renfrewshire, was already serving life for killing Vicky Hamilton, 15, and Angelika Kluk, 23.

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Miss McNicol's remains were found next to Miss Hamilton's mutilated body in November 2007 in the garden of the house in Margate, Kent, where Tobin lived in the early 1990s.

After sentencing yesterday, detectives published a gallery of photographs of items of pendants, brooches and necklace clasps Tobin is believed to have taken as "trophies" from his victims. The haul also includes a number of military badges.

Among the cases police are believed to be re-examining are those of the victims of the "Bible John" killings in Glasgow in the late 1960s: Patricia Docker, 25, Jemima McDonald, 32, and Helen Puttock, 29,

They were murdered after being picked up at the city's Barrowlands dance hall. Tobin, who had links with the Church throughout his life, was living in the city at about this time and would have been in his early twenties.

Last night, Detective Superintendent David Swindle of Strathclyde Police described how officers had set up Operation Anagram to piece together a timeline of Tobin's movements and share it with other forces.

He said releasing photographs of the jewellery was a "highly significant step".

"We're going over it big style – we're saying 'this is jewellery, this is Tobin'," he said.

DS Swindle said the exact number of victims might never be known, because of Tobin's nomadic lifestyle and many aliases.

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"During the investigation into the murder of Angelika Kluk, we established that Tobin had used numerous aliases, was linked to about 38 SIM cards and had travelled extensively throughout the UK during the year prior to the murder," DS Swindle said. "In November 2006, I formed Operation Anagram to populate and analyse a life timeline of Tobin's movement and share information with other UK police forces to enable them to assess any links he had to other criminality."

DS Swindle said the key to the operation was linking the timeline of Tobin's whereabouts in the UK to unsolved murders of women, or cases of women reported as missing.

"Tobin is a guy who has been everywhere, he's travelled throughout the UK," he said. "He's identified himself as cunning and has concealed the people he's murdered.

"There could be undetected murders, but we don't have anything to link him to any at the moment. A lot of our focus will therefore be on missing women.

"Vicky Hamilton and Dinah McNicol were missing people; the chances were that Angelika would have been a missing person, too."

Dr Vince Egan, a senior lecturer in forensic psychology at the University of Leicester, said Tobin's psychological criminal profile could be a hindrance in determining how many women he might have murdered.

He said: "Tobin chose victims who were vulnerable or those other people did not care about. He would often get away with things because people were not always looking for these women. He discarded people. That makes it a difficult situation for the police.

"We know he was a domestic tyrant, and domestic tyranny is the practice of psychopathic behaviour which can stay in the family or flows outside as in his case.

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"I doubt he was highly intelligent, but instead he was shrewd and used cunning and brass neck to operate the way he did.

"He was angry and violent to those he could inflict it on, but would be subservient to those in a position of authority over him."

Commenting on the jewellery, Dr Egan said: "This is obviously part of his whole criminal inclination, to keep things he's stolen from people. He has no sense of boundaries. Sometimes these items are kept to gloat over."

Schoolgirls Karen Hadaway, ten, and Nicola Fellows, nine, were found strangled in Wild Park, Brighton, in October 1986. The cases became known as the Babes in the Woods killings.

Labourer Russell Bishop was charged with the murders but was acquitted after the prosecution admitted a series of errors in the presentation of forensic evidence at his trial at Lewes in 1987.

Bishop, from Brighton, was jailed for life in 1991 for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a seven-year-old girl from Brighton but has always denied the killings. Tobin lived in Brighton for 20 years from the late 1960s.

Patsy Morris disappeared in London in 1980 aged 14, and her body was discovered in undergrowth on Hounslow Heath, London, in mid-summer.

Her father, George Morris, said he believed she could be one of Tobin's victims.

He said: "As soon as I read about the other girl's body being found in Tobin's backyard, something inside me clicked."

Read more on the Peter Tobin case here