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6 disturbing facts about Peter Tobin

Peter Tobin being led away by police
Image: Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo

Peter Tobin has been described as ‘one of Britain’s most hated serial killers’. He was a paedophile, rapist and murderer who is known to have killed at least three women, attempted two other murders and possibly committed several more.

His crimes are chilling and extensive. What’s worse, it was decades before he was finally caught and imprisoned. Here are some of the most disturbing details about his crimes.

1. He was a domestic abuser

Tobin’s disturbed behaviour started early. He was sent to reform school aged seven and later, spent time in a young offender’s institution. At 22, he married Margaret Mountney who was only seventeen. They were together for a year and during that time he decapitated her dog, raped her multiple times, stabbed her and left her for dead. She was saved by a downstairs neighbour who saw blood coming through the ceiling.

His second wife, Sylvia Jefferies, attempted to leave him several times, before fleeing to a women’s refuge.

His third wife was Cathy Wilson. She too said the marriage was violent and that she was rarely able to leave the house or be alone without Tobin. She escaped Tobin in 1990. After, she heard he had attempted suicide using a drug he later used to subdue two of his victims.

2. He was a paedophile

In 1984, an eight-year-old girl told her parents that she was being abused. For two months, Tobin is alleged to have raped the child, who lived in the same council block in Portsmouth. Although it was reported to the police and investigated, they ultimately decided that there wasn’t enough evidence to commit.

Five years later, Tobin married Cathy Wilson, with whom he had a son. She was just sixteen at the time.

The two had separated by 1993 when Tobin was living in Hampshire. He was looking after his five-year-old son when two fourteen-year-old girls asked Tobin if they could wait in his flat for a neighbour to return home. Tobin let them in, then held them at knifepoint and forced them to drink coffee and vodka, before assaulting and raping them. He stabbed one girl in front of his son.

He called Cathy to collect their son and left the flat with the gas on, in an attempt to kill the girls. Both survived the attack and Tobin was given a fourteen-year prison sentence. He only served nine years.

In 2005, a year after he was released, he attacked 24-year-old Cheryl McLachlan with a knife, but she managed to escape. He had left by the time police came to question him the following day.

3. He used aliases to escape notice

In 2006, then 60-year-old Tobin posed as a handyman named Pat McLaughlin and worked at St Patrick’s Church in Glasgow. Angelika Kluk was also working there as a cleaner while she funded her studies. She was helping him paint a shed and he described her as his ‘wee apprentice'. When she went missing, Tobin was questioned by police and disappeared hours later. It was only then that someone revealed that the convicted sex offender had been using an alias.

He moved to London and assumed another fake name, pretending to be someone called James Kelly, a pipe fitter. He was only arrested after he was recognised by a nurse who had seen his face on the news.

When police investigated Tobin, it was discovered he had lived in 60 places and used up to 40 different names.

4. He wasn’t convicted of other murders for decades

Fifteen-year-old Vicky Hamilton went missing in February 1991. She was last seen alive in Bathgate, on her way home to Falkirk. The case went cold for years.

In August of that same year, eighteen-year-old Dinah McNicol also went missing, after hitching a lift home with a friend from a concert. The friend was dropped off but McNicol wasn’t.

It wasn’t until after he was arrested for Angelika Kluk’s murder in 2006 that police launched Operation Anagram, investigating his links to the other missing girls. Tobin was convicted of the murders of Vicky and Dinah in 2008 and 2009.

5. He buried his victims at home and at work

Six weeks after McNicol disappeared, Tobin moved to Margate. Neighbours caught him digging a large pit in his back garden, which he claimed was a sandpit for his son. Two days later and it had been filled in again. When police investigated, they found the remains of Vicky Hamilton. She was identified using dental records and Tobin’s DNA was found on a bag containing her body. Dinah McNicol’s body was also found in the garden, bound and gagged.

Angelika Kluk’s body was found when police searched the church where she and Tobin worked. A hatch opened in the floor to reveal her body stashed under the floorboards. She had been bound and gagged so viciously that her face was misshapen.

6. He could be linked to numerous other cases

While police believe Tobin could have had many more victims, Operation Anagram looked into two cold cases specifically.

Eighteen-year-old Louise Kay went missing in 1988 in Eastbourne. Her Ford Fiesta was never found. Tobin was working in a hotel nearby at the time. After her disappearance, he was known to be selling a small car. Police believe Tobin was responsible for her murder but have been unable to prove it. They think her body is buried in the garden of one of his former homes that they were unable to search.

Jessie Earl was 22-years-old when she disappeared from Eastbourne. Her remains were later found in Beachy Head.

Some also believe Tobin may have been Bible John, a serial killer from Glasgow who murdered three young mothers in the 1960s: Patricia Docker; Jemina McDonald and Helen Puttock. Tobin was a suspect in the murders, although he denied involvement.

Tobin died in prison of cancer on 8th October 2022. Investigators have said more information about his crimes may still be discovered, including any other murders.