Colin Ireland is a British serial killer known as the ‘Gay Slayer’ due to the fact that his only victims were gay men. He murdered out of the anger that built in him due to his loss of innocence, through encounters with paedophiles when he was young. Ireland’s murders were not sexually motivated and he had been married and claimed to be heterosexual. He is currently serving five counts of life imprisonment.

' 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