"These were terrible, wicked crimes…The mutilation of the bodies is a serious aggravating feature of the murders. This defendant is controlling in his relationships with women and, chillingly, that control extends to deciding whether they should live or die."
Mr Justice Saunders, sentencing Sweeney for the murders of Melissa Halstead and Paula Fields, 26 April 2011
After his arrest in 2001, Sweeney is tried and found guilty at the Old Bailey for firearms offences and for the attempted murder of former girlfriend, Delia Balmer. He shows no emotion as he is led from the court after he is handed four life sentences.
The journey back to the Old Bailey to stand trial for the murders of his girlfriends Melissa Halstead and Paula Fields would take another ten years. He is described by police as “one of the most dangerous men in Britain”.
Sweeney denies two counts of murder and disposing of the body of Paula Fields.
At the trial, the prosecutor Brian Altman QC, says the evidence reveals Sweeney’s obsessive and violent hatred of women and a pre-occupation with dismemberment.
The jury hear directly from those who knew Sweeney. When asked about her sister, Melissa Halstead, Chance O'Hara tells them via video link from California,
“She told me if she ever went missing, that John Sweeney would have killed her.”
Chillingly, Melissa also predicted Sweeney would dispose of her body and it would never be found.
During the trial, Sweeney claims the police had ‘sexed up’ the evidence.
The killer described his artwork in court as ‘nonsense’ and said he had spent the 1980s and 1990s taking drugs including LSD and cannabis.
Sweeney’s defence did not convince the jury who find him guilty of both murders. The judge sentences him to a whole life tariff.