Colin Ireland

Crime Files

'...in some moods I would be quite happy to burn the world down.'

Colin Ireland

'His mother was 17 when she had him; various partners coming in and out, various stepfathers; lots of moves, different schools. Very much put into the role of a loner, an outsider. Does that explain his behaviour?... No.' Mike Berry, Forensic Psychologist and Ireland’s Police Profiler.

Colin’s parents were unmarried teenagers when his mother discovered she was pregnant. Colin was born on 16 March 1954 in Dartford, Kent. Soon after, his father left them both. Colin’s 17-year-old mother neither put his father’s name on the birth certificate nor ever told Colin who he was. She went to live with her parents for five years and then went back to Kent.

This was the start of six years of upheavals during which they moved house nine times. One of their ‘homes’ was for homeless women and children and was, according to Colin, ‘degradation personified.’ Colin’s mother was unskilled and relied on part-time and low-paid work. Unable to provide a decent home, she moved back in with her parents. By 1961, his mother had a new partner and the three of them moved to Dartford for the next three years.

The couple married and Colin’s surname was changed from his mother’s maiden name of Ireland to that of his stepfather, Saker. An electrician, Saker had a good sense of humour and treated Colin well. But his work was irregular and the family was financially unstable. Colin found it hard to settle. He attended six schools between the ages of five and ten. He was always the ‘new boy’. And his thin, lanky frame and bow-legged stance made him an obvious target for bullies. Understandably, Colin tried to avoid school. When forced to go, he’d arrive late. He later remembered his punishment; 'The punishment for...repeated lateness, was the cane...I’m surprised that I grew up to be a sadist, and not a masochist.'

Colin’s education, personal development, social skills, in fact, everything, suffered. His membership of the Sea Cadets was exceptional in that it was an achievement. In 1964, Colin, aged 10, along with his mother and stepfather, was evicted. His mother was again pregnant. Colin was an expense she couldn’t afford. She placed him into care. When she and his stepfather found a new home, they invited Colin back. Soon after, his stepfather walked out on them.

They were again alone and broke. In 1966, 12-year-old Colin had to take on another stepfather as his mother remarried. This time, he refused to take the surname. Instead, he reverted to Ireland. Ironically, this man turned out to be the closest thing to stability Colin would ever know.

'As children, they suffer significant abuse...often sexual.” Harold Schechter, Ten Traits of Serial Killers.

In Sheerness, Kent, Colin was approached on four occasions by older men wanting to have sex with him. The first of these encounters was when he was working at a fairground as a summer holiday job. He was offered a necklace for his mother in exchange for a sexual act. Then, when he was 12, in a public toilet, a man peered over the top of the cubicle wall and watched him. 'That man was not gay. He was a paedophile. So was the first.' Colin Ireland.

His third encounter was at a cinema. His optician saw him and asked for sexual favours. The fourth was with a man working in a second-hand shop. Colin resisted their advances each time. There was never any physical abuse or sexual contact. But each time an older man offered money or reward in exchange for his young touch. Poor and desperate, the experiences filled Colin with rage; a rage without outlet.

'In his mind the homosexual man who indulged in sado-masochism became akin to the paedophile that has a similar 'relationship' with his victim: both are relationships of power and acquiescence.' Anna Gekoski, interviewer of Colin Ireland

Timeline

Born 16 March 1954The Victims 8 March 1993 – Peter Walker, 45 28 May 1993 - Christopher Dunn, 37 4 June 1993 – Perry Bradley III, 35 7 June 1993 – Andrew Collier, 33 12 June 1993 – Emanuel Spiteri, 41Arrested 1971 – robbery [2 years: borstals] December 1975 – 2 counts of burglary, stealing a car, damage to property [18 months: prison] 1977 – demanding with menace [18 months: prison] 1980 – robbery [2 years: prison] 1981 – attempted deception [2 months: prison] 1985 – going equipped to cheat [6 months: prison] 21 July 1993 – Collier murderTrial No trial was held as Ireland confessed to all five murders on 19 August 1993Convicted 21 July 1993 - charged with Collier’s murder 23 July 1993 - charged with Spiteri’s murder 19 August 1993 – confessed to all five murders 20 August 1993 - charged with the murders of Walker, Dunn and BradleySentenced 20 August 1993 – five counts of life imprisonment

The Aftermath

"He studied to be a serial killer"

'When you have somebody who wasn’t insane, that’s much more worrying because we could all do that.' Mike Berry, Forensic Psychologist and Police Profiler of Colin Ireland.

British author Anna Gekoski, who specialises in British sexual predators, contacted Ireland directly and in correspondence, put forward numerous questions, which Ireland answered, apparently truthfully. What Ireland really wanted was recognition. Now classed as a serial killer, he was ready for his story to be known. His communication with Anna was fascinating for a number of reasons. Unlike serial killers like Myra Hindley, Ireland wasn’t after any understanding in the hope of reducing his sentence. And because he so self consciously became a serial killer, he was able to calculatedly employ counter measures to avoid detection. 

THE WATCHDOG BITING THE HANDLER

As Ireland had studied serial killers and specifically read ex-FBI Agent Robert Ressler’s book ‘Whoever Fights Monsters’, some suggested such books should be removed. Ressler argued that if a person was going to commit murder, his book could not be blamed. Ireland himself said that the TV crime series, ‘The Bill’ had given him so many of his ideas and police evasion methods that it should be banned.

One of the very few positives to emerge from the Colin Ireland case was a fundamental change in the approach of the police to investigating the gay community.

'The fact that we now have LGBT liaison officers, the fact that anti-gay hate crime is actually treated seriously by the police... We see ourselves more as citizens and we expect to be treated as citizens by the police in a way that we didn’t before.' Paul Burston, Author.

OTHER KILLINGS?

It is common for serial killers to withhold all of their murders from the police. It is believed the lack of disclosure allows them some semblance of control even when physically imprisoned.

And the police did look at one particular case they believed might have been Ireland’s work but which was never claimed by him.

In January 1993, a gay man living alone in South London had been found dead in his home. He had been partially eaten by his dogs.

But it is likely this will never be properly attributed to the ‘gay slayer.’

For Colin Ireland, the man who had tortured five other human beings in their last moments, and had suffocated them all to death, died of natural causes in February 2012. He was 57 years old.

The Trial

The Horrid Truth

'I, er, killed him with a plastic bag. I put that over his head and killed him with that.' Colin Ireland.

With a full confession on 19 August 1993, no trial was needed.

'He was calm relaxed, you know he didn’t raise his voice.' Albert Patrick.

'He barely come to, it was quite quick, I throttled him with a noose and he hardly struggled. Some for instance Walker, took longer.' Colin Ireland.

'He was very factual about his acts, as if he was describing someone else’s activities. Absolutely no compassion at all... I didn’t detect much hatred...it was just matter of fact, like, "I went down the shops and bought this. Went into the flat and killed him." It was just very matter of fact.' Martin Finnegan.

In Ireland’s full and frank confession to all his crimes, he emphasised four particular points.

Firstly, that he had not been under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the murders.

Secondly, that he was not gay or bisexual.

Thirdly, that he had not undressed or engaged in any sexual activity with his victims and had gained no sexual thrill from the murders.

Fourthly, that he held no grudge against the gay community and that he had chosen gay men as his victims simply because they were easy targets.'It might as well have been women.'

He claimed it was extreme male deviancy that triggered his anger, which had begun with his brushes with paedophiles in his youth. He saw himself as ridding society of vermin and craved recognition as a superior person. Psychologists saw the strategic placing of items related to childhood on the victim’s body – the teddy bears, the doll and the cat – as symbolic of Ireland’s abhorrence at the loss of innocence.

On 20 August 1993, at the Old Bailey, London, Ireland was charged with the murders of Walker, Dunn, Bradley, Collier and Spiteri. Ireland was sentenced to life imprisonment for each of the five killings.

'To take one life is an outrage. To take five is carnage. You expressed the desire to be regarded as a serial killer. That must be matched by your detention for life...' Old Bailey judge sentencing in December 1993.

COLIN WHO?

But ironically, in confessing and pleading guilty to all his murders, he avoided the publicity that accompanied the trials of Peter Sutcliffe, Fred West and Ian Brady and which helped ensure their infamy.

Ireland will probably not be forgotten because of his self-conscious methodology and victimology. But unlike the killers he hoped to emulate and equal, he will more likely be more of a footnote.

'He wanted to have his place in history as a serial killer. That is sadly what he achieved.' Martin Finnegan

Ireland’s name was on the last published list of whole life tariff prisoners, meaning that he would stay in prison for the rest of his natural life.

'There is an understandable human reluctance to imagine that anybody who can commit crimes of this gravity and this number cannot be normal by any cannon that you or I or any other person might understand. The awful truth I’m afraid is that there are people who are just plain bad and Colin Ireland was undoubtedly one of them.' John Nutting, Prosecutor.

The Investigation

A Community living in fear

One of the first detectives at the Peter Walker murder scene was Martin Finnegan:

'Peter was laying on the bed covered by a duvet which had some teddy bears on top arranged in a 69 position...There was the ligature marks on his wrists and his ankles and there’s no ligatures at the scene...whoever had killed him had taken away the ligatures.'

The police also found Peter’s bank card was missing and that it had been accessed after he died.

But due to Ireland’s efforts, there was little forensic evidence.

Ireland’s phone call to ‘The Sun’ strongly indicated the murder was, if not premeditated, carried out by someone capable of killing again. So Finnegan did a TV appeal.

But police requests to the gay community were not helped by a recent ruling making S&M between consenting adults illegal. Any witnesses could be liable for prosecution. And many in the gay community believed the police to be institutionally and individually homophobic. Raids on gay pubs were said to be performed by officers wearing rubber gloves fearful of catching AIDS.

Ten weeks passed with no police progress. The investigation was effectively shelved.

On 30 May 1993 the police were called to the flat of Christopher Dunn. This time, the police assumed it was a sex game that had accidentally turned fatal.

'The pathologist who examined the body said that he wasn’t quite sure of the cause of death; it could’ve been manual strangulation through a homosexual sex act that’s gone wrong.' Albert Patrick, Detective Superintendent

Despite Dunn and Walker drinking in the same pub, they weren’t linked because they lived in different parts of London. They were therefore investigated by the police from their respective areas. The Dunn murder barely made a paragraph in the local paper.

So Ireland was free to return to the Coleherne. Again, the victim went willingly to what they thought was a night of sexual gratification.

'I think the gay community are sitting ducks in that respect. The lifestyle lends itself to exploitation. Clearly there is a certain element of trust that needs to go on between consenting people and in this case this trust was betrayed. Possibly Colin saw the people as easy pickings.' Martin Finnegan, Detective Inspector.

The senior investigating officer for Ireland’s third victim was Brian Edwards:

'The way the body was arranged and laid out it was clearly a little bit unusual and we were a little bit surprised when we contacted the family and found that there was no apparent history of homosexuality.'

Due to the high profile nature of the victim, the murder made headlines. But to protect his family, Bradley’s homosexuality was not revealed. So no immediate links were made between Bradley, and the previous two murders.

The Met police now had three separate murder teams investigating the three murders. But when they realised Bradley had visited the Coleherne, links began to emerge. Like Walker, Bradley had been robbed.With the Collier crime scene, detectives immediately noticed similarities. And then Detective Superintendent Albert Patrick made a breakthrough. In looking for witnesses he found a serious fight had broken out nearby in the early hours.

'What would you do if you heard noise at one o’clock in the morning? You’d get out of bed and have a look out the window...and between the glass pane...there was a finger mark facing downwards and that’s the mark that was lifted.'

But this would only prove useful in proving the killer was there. Without a computerised database, they couldn’t link that fingerprint to Ireland’s previous more minor crimes.

Brian Edwards noticed similarities in their cases and contacted Albert Patrick about Collier. And Martin Finnegan was aware of links between the Collier and Walker case. But at the exact time investigating officers were brought together and decided to redo all the forensics, it was found Dunn’s body was being cremated.

Confirmation the four murders were linked was, in fact, made by Ireland himself.

On 12 June, Ireland put in an anonymous phone call. He scolded the police for not connecting the murders as the victims of a serial killer:

'Doesn’t the death of a homosexual man mean anything?'

Three days later, Spiteri’s landlady rang the police to report she’d discovered his body. The police went public. A midnight press conference warned the gay community they were being targeted. It was hoped that if Ireland was in the flat of another potential victim and they were watching the television, that victim might just be saved.

'People became really paranoid; there was this real sense of fear within the community.' Paul Burston, Author, ‘Queens’ Country’.

The police traced Spiteri’s most likely route home from the Coleherne. His train journey home went through Charing Cross station, a station that had just been fitted with one of London’s first CCTV cameras. There was 450 hours of footage to shift through.

'After about ten hours of viewing we got the victim Spiteri with an image in the background and that ended up being Colin Ireland.' Albert Patrick

GAY SLAYER

Psychologist Dr Mike Berry was approached by the police to draw up a profile of the killer. He maintained the killer was fuelled by violent fantasies. But each murder was never as good as the fantasy. So he was driven to kill again. He also believed that the killer was not HIV positive and was not committing the murders as an act of revenge. Another psychologist, Dr Jonas Rappeport, agreed. He added his belief that the killer was not himself homosexual, but posing as a gay man in order to attract his victims. He was well organised, probably of large build and physically strong, which made him confident in his ability to overpower his victims. The police gained further advice from criminal psychologists Paul Britton and Dick Walter, as well as ex-FBI Agent and serial killer specialist, Robert Ressler.

On 24 June 1993, the police issued a description of a man who had been seen with Spiteri on the train. The description was of a white male, age 30-40, over 6 feet tall, clean shaven, a full to fattish face, short dark brown hair and dirty, discoloured teeth. They produced an E-Fit (Electronic Facial Identification Technique), a computer-generated likeness.

A week later, on 2 July 1993, police released a picture of the man with Spiteri, taken on the train’s security camera, and he was very similar to the man on the E-Fit. The following day, police received over 40 calls, some of which were from men saying they had seen or talked to the man in the Coleherne pub.

On 19 July 1993, Ireland went to his solicitor. He said he was with Spiteri, that he was on the CCTV but that he had not killed Spiteri. He claimed to have arrived at Spiteri’s flat to find there was another man. Explaining that he didn’t want a threesome, he said he had made his excuses and left.

The police came to Southend and arrested him.

With the Collier fingerprint left on the window ledge, the police were able to charge Ireland with Collier’s murder on 21 July 1993. Two days later, they charged him with Spiteri’s murder.

'We decided to charge him initially, I think just with the two murders because what he wanted was the notoriety of being a serial killer and we felt with him just being charged with the two murders it would cause him quite a bit of frustration and so that’s what we did and we waited to see how things developed.' Brian Edwards.

Ireland was remanded in custody. His frustration with being connected with only two murders built.

After returning from magistrate’s court, he said he wanted to confess.

'I am the gay serial killer.'

Serial Killer

SELF MADE SERIAL KILLER

'The motivation seems to have been this quest for infamy – to be a serial killer.' Martin Finnegan, Detective Inspector

Colin Ireland, now 39, decided to take advantage of the knowledge he’d acquired studying a subject that fascinated him: Serial Killers.

He knew Geographic Profiling helps locate killers. Most commit crimes in a radius of about 7 miles from where they live. For this reason, Colin chose London as his ‘murder ground’, well away from his Southend-on-Sea base.

EASY PREY

The Coleherne pub in West London was a cavernous, dimly lit bar with blacked out windows and an industrial decor.

'The Coleherne back then was the destination venue for gay leather men in London. Paul Burston, Author ‘Queens’ Country’

It’s where sadomasochistic men met. Punters would wear colour-coded handkerchiefs to indicate their sexual proclivities, and whether they were sadistic or masochistic:It wasn’t uncommon for complete strangers to agree to go off and have sex within minutes of meeting. It was the perfect hunting ground for Ireland.

'I went to the Coleherne that evening and I felt that if I was approached by one of the group that tended to trigger feelings in me – masochistic men – I felt there was a likelihood I would kill.'

On a Monday evening, on 8 March 1993, Ireland was posing as a ‘top’-S&M shorthand for ‘dominant partner’ when he met his first victim. Peter Walker, 45, who was a renowned assistant theatre director by profession. He was a ‘bottom’-or submissive partner-by proclivity.

Peter spilt his drink on Ireland. They chatted and soon left together. On the way, Ireland put on gloves. In Peter’s Battersea apartment, Ireland gagged him with knotted condoms. This was foreplay. Peter willingly let himself be bound with cord to his four-poster bed.

Ireland then revealed his ‘murder kit’ containing a knife, gloves and a change of clothes. He viciously beat Peter with a belt and his fists. He then put a plastic bag over Peter’s head. When Peter was close to suffocating, Ireland removed it. As Peter recovered, Ireland then replaced it. He repeated this again and again. He told Peter he was going to die. Ireland greatly enjoyed the power. Eventually, Ireland didn’t remove the bag.Ireland compared the ‘buzz’ of his first kill to that of losing his virginity.

In cleaning the apartment of any forensic traces, Ireland found evidence Peter had been HIV positive. Incensed, he pushed a condom into the dead man’s mouth and another into his nostril.

He also placed two teddy bears in a 69 position on top of Peter. Ireland would often leave such items as symbols of innocence lost.

After this, Ireland then returned to erasing any trace of his presence. He bagged up his own clothes. Then he waited patiently for the morning rush hour:

At seven o’clock he then left and mingled out with the crowds and just blended into obscurity.' Martin Finnegan, Detective Inspector.

'I remember walking down the road, and I thought they must see in my face that I have just murdered someone.' Colin Ireland.

Ireland disposed of his clothes, gloves and shoes by throwing them out of a train window, within the boundaries of the London transport system. This was another of his counter measure rituals.He later rang the Samaritans and told them that he’d locked up Peter’s dogs and they needed to be released. He wasn’t concerned for the animals welfare, only that the murder would be revealed. So he also rang ‘The Sun’ newspaper and calmly told an editor what he’d done;

'It was my New Year’s resolution to kill a homosexual. He was a homosexual and into that kinky sex. You’re into all that stuff aren’t you.'

Ireland also took money out using Peter’s bank card:

'He got into the habit in his early crimes of reimbursing himself for the expense of committing them'John Nutting, Prosecutor

As Ireland was unemployed, his counter forensic destruction of his clothes, gloves and shoes was an expense he could only finance through theft.

After two months, Ireland wanted to kill again. On 28 May 1993, he returned to the Coleherne. He met 37-year-old librarian Christopher Dunn. Christopher said he liked domination and they went to his Wealdstone flat. There they watched S&M porn and then Ireland tied up his willing victim. Face down, feet tied and handcuffed, Christopher was then burnt with a lighter. Realising this wasn’t fetishitic foreplay, he told Ireland his PIN number. Ireland then strangled him with a piece of cord.

Ireland again cleaned the crime scene. He even cleaned his fingerprints off his torch batteries. And again Ireland waited until he felt it was safe to leave. The pre-killing Colin found it hard to sit with the cooling bodies of his victims, but the cold, psychopathic part of Ireland ensured he stayed put till it was safe.

Two days later, a friend discovered Christopher’s body.

SUMMER OF FEAR

On 4 June 1993, just six days after killing Christopher Dunn, Ireland returned to the Coleherne. Perry Bradley was a 35-year-old Texas businessman and son of a serving US congressman. He took Ireland back to his Kensington apartment. This time Ireland had to persuade Bradley to be tied up saying he couldn’t get aroused without it. Once tied up, Ireland tortured, threatened, obtained Perry’s PIN number, and then killed him. He placed a doll on Perry’s dead body.

He then made himself a sandwich. After his usual clean up, and when he felt it safe, he left.

But Ireland’s counter forensic measures were only so that he would be free to kill. He wanted the police to realise they were all the work of one serial killer.

'His motive was fame, not sexual satisfaction...he wasn’t so much a serial killer as a lethal parody of one.' Anna Gekoski, Interviewer of Ireland.

So three days later he went back to the Coleherne. Andrew Collier was 33 and HIV positive. A fact Ireland found only after binding him at his flat and searching through his possessions. Enraged to have been deceived twice, he killed Andrew’s cat in front of him. He then burnt bits of Andrew’s body. He also shoved a condom into Andrew’s throat and suffocated him.

But a serious street fight around one in the morning had attracted Ireland’s attention. In trying to get a good look out the window, Ireland had accidentally placed a finger down on a bar that ran across the window.It was a fingerprint he didn’t clean off.

It was his only forensic mistake.

On 12 June 1993, Ireland called the Kensington and later Battersea police, claiming he had killed four men and they had to stop him from killing again. He gave them crime scene details about Collier’s cat that convinced them he was genuine.

He asked them if they were interested in the murder of Peter Walker and why they had stopped the investigation. He told them he would kill again, as he had always dreamed of committing the perfect murder.

This is an extract of his bizarre conversation with the officer:

Officer: 'Why are you doing this?'Ireland: 'Because I set out to see cos I’ve read several books on serial killers and you see, you know I wondered if it could be possibly done and got away with.’Officer: 'But what was your aim in all that?'Ireland: 'Just to see if it could be done alright, so I’ll leave you to get on with it. Bye bye.'

Ireland’s fifth and final victim was 41-year-old Maltese chef Emanuel Spiteri. On the night of 12 June, Ireland followed Emanuel from the Coleherne. They talked and then went to Emanuel’s Catford flat.

Ireland bound Emanuel to his bed, handcuffed him, put a noose around his neck and demanded his PIN. But Emanuel refused.

Ireland then strangled Emanuel. He cleaned up and watched television until he felt it safe to leave. This time though he started a fire in Emannuel’s bedroom. He hoped it would spread and burn down the whole block.It went out in the bedroom.

The next day Ireland rang the police telling them to look for a body at the scene of a fire in south London. He also explained why he’d ended five people’s lives:'I have read a lot of books on serial killers. I think it is from four people that the FBI class as serial, so I may stop now I have done five.'

Back in Southend-on-Sea, associates casually mentioned to Ireland that he resembled the image of the gay serial killer the police had revealed.

Ireland wanted control to the last. He went to his solicitor and signed an affidavit explaining why he was with Spiteri on CCTV. He calmly sat in his solicitor’s office, and asked him to ring the police.

Serial Criminal

“There have...been some severely disturbed individuals who can only be described as serial killer ‘wannabes’... Harold Schechter, The Serial Killer Files.

Aged 16, Colin committed his first crime. To run away to London, he stole £4. He was caught, issued with a ‘fit person order’ and sent to Finchton Manor School in Kent. A fee-paying ‘free expression’ school, Finchton only accepted boys who had both intelligence and emotional problems. Colin’s fees were paid by the local County Council as part of the care order.

Again, Colin was teased and bullied. In revenge, he set fire to one of the boys’ belongings. Colin later said he had recurring nightmares of fire and had a lifelong fascination with flames.

Despite no charges, Colin was sent away from Finchton Manor. He immediately ran away to London.

Homeless and penniless, Colin soon resorted to robbery. At 17, he was caught and sentenced to spend time at Hollesly Bay, a borstal. These were notorious British reform schools that were infamous for their brutal and austere regimes. Despite this, Hollesly offered therapy and vocational training. Colin hated it. He again ran away.

Caught, he served the remainder of his sentence in the far stricter borstals of Rochester and Grendon.

In 1972, Colin was 18, and free.

He met his first girlfriend, but this wasn’t a happy time:

'I was entering what I call the lost period, common to those who suffer from psychopathy. …In between custodial periods, a lot of the 70s were a blur. I spent my time detached and wondering.'

In December 1975, Colin, now 21, was found guilty of two counts of burglary, stealing a car and damage to property. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison. On his release in November 1976, Colin went to live in Swindon. He met his second girlfriend. She was a West Indian woman, five years his senior and the mother of four children. He lost his virginity with her. They lived together for a few months and planned to marry.

THE GENTLE GIANT?

But in 1977, Ireland was found guilty of ‘demanding with menace’ and sentenced to a further 18 months in prison. In 1980, he was sentenced to two years imprisonment for robbery in 1980. In 1981, he was done for ‘attempted deception’. The same year he met Virginia Zammit at a lecture on ‘Survivalism’. She was 36, nine years his senior, had a daughter of five and was confined to a wheelchair after a motor vehicle accident paralysed her at just 24.

The couple were happily married in 1982. Colin adored his wife and stepdaughter. The family lived in estate housing in Holloway and Colin was known to the locals as ‘The Gentle Giant’. But in 1985, Colin was sentenced for six months, this time for ‘going equipped to cheat’. When Virginia found Colin had cheated on her as well, they divorced in 1987.

During this period, Colin unskilled and untrained supported himself through various jobs. These include being a restaurant chef, a volunteer fireman and a bouncer at various bars including a gay nightclub. The lanky, malnourished target of bullying had become a burly, big bloke quite capable of handling himself and others.

In 1989, Colin entered the Devonshire pub of landlady Janet Young:

'He stood in the doorway and the whole conversation in the pub just stopped and everybody turned and looked at him.'

Janet lived with her two children above the pub. Within the week, Colin moved in with them. Within three months, they were married. One night he threw her out of their bedroom. She took refuge in another. He entered. He smashed the light bulb. In the darkness, he moved from corner to corner. As he circled her, he taunted her saying;

'I’m over here, I’m over here.'

'What (control freaks) normally do is put enough fear into their partners that the partners don’t want to upset them...they control them that way. The fear of violence is often more powerful than the actual violence.' Mike Berr, Forensic Psychologist and Police Profiler of Colin Ireland.

When not working, Colin went off to Dartmoor fancying himself as a ‘survivalist’:

'He was gonna go all night and catch a rabbit and all this sort of thing. But actually he wasn’t very good at it and he always came home for his tea.' Janet Young

After one Easter, when Janet was away, Colin cleared out her house and, knowing her PIN number, her bank account – this would be how he stole and financed himself when he became a serial killer.

Colin left Janet broke. She couldn’t even pay her bus fare home. Her and her children were forced into a homeless hostel. She never heard from him again.

Colin next popped up in Southend-on-Sea, Essex. He worked at a homeless shelter whilst being homeless himself. The manager there remembered him for his homophobia. Only once did Colin reveal himself. The manager and Colin were dealing with a repeatedly troublesome client. Colin suggested getting rid of him. When the manager jokingly asked how Colin would do that, Colin replied in all seriousness, he would force snooker balls down the man’s throat.

When other staff made complaints about Colin touching female colleagues, he was let go.

His next job involved breaking up wooden pallets. Depressed, disillusioned and down and out, Colin made a New Year’s resolution for 1993 that would cost five innocent men their lives.