The Horrid Truth
“I, er, killed him with a plastic bag. I put that over his head and killed him with that.”
With a full confession on 19 August 1993, no trial was needed.
“He was calm relaxed, you know he didn’t raise his voice.”
“He barely come to, it was quite quick, I throttled him with a noose and he hardly struggled. Some for instance Walker, took longer.”
“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.”
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
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.”
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