John Taylor (criminal)

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John Taylor (b. (1956-08-27)27 August 1956 April, Leeds, West Yorkshire)[1] is a British convicted murderer and rapist. He was a parcel delivery worker for Parcelforce,[1] and lived on the same estate in Bramley, Leeds, as Leanne Tiernan and within a mile of where she was last seen alive. He was known locally as "the pet man", as he kept a number of dogs and ferrets and sold pet food, and was also known to be a poacher. His only previous conviction was for theft of a suit when he was 15 years old and he was considered by his neighbours to be trustworthy and "ordinary".[2][3] Following their appeal for information, Taylor's name was given to the police separately by two former girlfriends of Taylor who had met him through lonely hearts columns, both saying that he had driven past the woods in their company and boasted of poaching there regularly.[2][4] Examination of forensic evidence led the police to arrest Taylor on 16 October 2001 on suspicion of murdering Leanne Tiernan, and he pleaded guilty to her murder in July 2002.


As police began to conduct thorough inquiries into Taylor's background, they discovered that he was a frequent user of lonely hearts advertisements.[5] Through his telephone records they identified the women he had contacted in this way and began to interview them.[6] One woman who had dated Taylor disclosed that Taylor told her he liked tying women up and locking them in a cupboard. Another said that Taylor had told her that he had a fetish for "bondage, whips and ties", and said that he wanted to tie her daughter up with cable ties and have sexual intercourse with her.[4][7][8][9] A former girlfriend, who had briefly lived with Taylor, told police that she had often visited Lindley Woods with him while they were dating, and that she had eventually broke off the relationship with him because of his bondage fetish and the feeling "that she was being raped".[6][8][9] When asked by police to describe how Taylor would tie her, she described his practice of securing a plastic cable tie around each of her wrists, then tying her hands behind her back by using a third cable tie to link them.[6] This was exactly how Tiernan had been found. She also said that Taylor kept a bundle of the cable ties in a drawer next to his bed.[6] Two other women also said that Taylor enjoyed bondage during sex, and had bound their breasts and hands with cable ties.[5]

Murder of Leanne Tiernan[edit]

Taylor, who lived alone after his wife had divorced him in 1996, was arrested on suspicion of murder on 16 October 2001.[5] Police immediately sealed off his house and gardens and a patch of wasteland to the rear of the property.[10] The gardens were then excavated and the property, including three large chest freezers, subjected to a rigorous examination over a period of ten days.[11] When interviewed by police, Taylor eventually admitted kidnapping Tiernan. His explanation was that he had not visited Haughley Gill for many years, but by chance had been there on the afternoon that Tiernan went missing. He said that she had walked past him and on impulse he had seized her from behind, tied her hands behind her back with a dog leash, covered her head with his jacket and forced her to walk to his home in nearby Cockshott Drive.[12] He then forced her into his bedroom and onto the bed where, during a struggle, she had fallen off the bed, striking her head on the floor. He said that he had then picked her up by the scarf around her neck, at which point she had died, and claimed that her death was an accident.[4] He said he had panicked and hidden her body in Lindley Woods.[2] The police and prosecution maintained that he cable tied her hands behind her back in the bedroom in preparation for rape, and then used a cable tie as a ligature to murder her when her blindfold slipped and she saw his face.[4][12][13] When asked why he had abducted Tiernan, he replied: "I have no idea".[7] When police challenged his version of taking the body to Lindley Woods soon after the murder, he claimed that he had first kept the body hidden underneath pallets in his back garden, and then stored her inside his sofa.[5]

Subsequent convictions for rape[edit]

As the police now had Taylor's DNA profile they were able to review other unsolved sex attacks in the locality where forensic evidence was still available for DNA extraction. Two rapes in particular stood out as they had both been committed on the estate where Taylor lived. The first took place on 18 October 1988 when a 32-year old woman was attacked as she walked across Houghley Gill to collect her children from school. Taylor, who was wearing a mask and armed with a knife, forced her to carry out oral sex and then raped her.[14][15] The second rape took place on 1 March 1989 when Taylor, again masked and wielding a knife, broke into the home of a 21-year old woman in the middle of the day. He forced her into the bedroom, where he undressed her, blindfolded and gagged her, and then forced her to commit oral sex before raping her.[14] Her small child was present in the house at the time.[15] Taylor was formally rearrested in October 2002 and charged with the rapes. Although Taylor initially refused to cooperate with the police, the DNA evidence was overwhelming, and he eventually pleaded guilty to both rapes on 4 February 2003 at Leeds Crown Court.[13][16] Judge Norman Jones QC, the Recorder of Leeds, sentenced him to two terms of life imprisonment and "expressly dis-applied early release provisions".[14] DS Gregg said: "We are still concerned that there may be other victims and families who have been affected by Taylor's actions" and revealed that a diamante necklace found in his car at the time of his 2001 arrest may have belonged to another victim as they were still unable to find out where it came from or who it belonged to.[16] Taylor is known to have travelled across the country to meet women he had contacted through personal ads and also in his parcel delivery work, and with the solving of the two rape cases police discounted his insistence that Tiernan's murder was an isolated case and that he had taken his dog for a walk and "just snapped". They maintained that Taylor could have been a serial sex attacker for twenty years.[17] Taylor has denied involvement in any other crimes.

Minimum term[edit]

Under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 Taylor's sentence for the murder of Tiernan was reviewed by the High Court of Justice with regard to the minimum term served before consideration for parole. On 19 December 2006 Mr. Justice Openshaw set the minimum term at 30 years. In his judgement he stated, "I am anxious that this sentence is not misunderstood or misreported. The sentence is, and remains, a sentence of imprisonment for life. The defendant may not even be considered for release for this offence of murder until he has served at least 30 years. That is not to say that he will then be released, for the whole life term imposed for the rapes remains in force. Furthermore, the defendant will be detained unless and until the Parole Board is satisfied that he no longer presents a risk to the public. Many prisoners, and surely John Taylor is likely to be one, are in fact detained for many years after their tariff has expired, indeed it may be that he presents such a risk that he could never safely be released but that is for others to decide in due course. I am just anxious that no one thinks that I am suggesting that he be released in 30 years for I most certainly am not".[14]


Taylor is imprisoned at HM Prison Wakefield.[18]

Cold cases reopened[edit]

As a direct result of the Tiernan murder inquiry, West Yorkshire Police reopened the murder investigations of:[16]

  • Deborah Alison Wood (aged 20) whose body was found burning near Burley Park Station, Leeds, in January 1996. Police believe her body had been kept in cold storage. She was found wrapped in bin bags and bedding.
  • Yvonne Fitt (aged 33) whose body was found in Lindley Woods in September 1992. She had been missing since January 1992.
  • Lindsay Jo Rimer (aged 13) who disappeared not far from her home in Hebden Bridge in November 1994. Her body was found at the bottom of a canal two miles from her home five months later. The cause of death was strangulation.
  • Rebbecca Hall (aged 19) who disappeared 13 April 2001. Her body was found in an alley behind a car park in Bradford on 26 April 2001.

Strathclyde Police reopened the murder investigations of six Glasgow prostitutes:[13]

  • Diane McInally (aged 23)
  • Karen McGregor (aged 26)
  • Leona McGovern (aged 22)
  • Marjorie Roberts (aged 31)
  • Tracey Wilde (aged 21)
  • Alison Wallace (aged 31)


  1. ^ a b "John Taylor – Leeds/Bramley". Database of UK and Eire paedophiles/child abusers. 
  2. ^ a b c "John Taylor: Killer in the Woods". Crime & Investigation Network. 10 September 2009. 
  3. ^ Dennis, Steve (9 July 2002). "Beast's torture behind closed doors". Daily Record.  Archived periodical at
  4. ^ a b c d Stokes, Paul (9 July 2002). "Sex killing sadist faces questions on four murders". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  5. ^ a b c d O'Hara, Kate (21 October 2002). "Bizarre behaviour of a dangerous sadist". Yorkshire Post. 
  6. ^ a b c d Interview with Taylor's former lover, (2003); Killer in the Woods
  7. ^ a b Dennis, Steve (9 July 2002). "Killer who kept girl in the fridge gets life". Daily Record.  Archived periodical at
  8. ^ a b "How Leanne's killer was caught". BBC News. 8 July 2002. 
  9. ^ a b "How many more did this sadist murder?". The Northern Echo. 9 July 2002. 
  10. ^ "Man arrested over Leanne's murder". BBC News. 16 October 2001. 
  11. ^ "Police hold man over murder of schoolgirl". Daily Post. 17 October 2001.  Archived periodical at
  12. ^ a b Brooke, Chris (9 July 2002). "Did Leanne sadist kill four others?". Mail Online. 
  13. ^ a b c Wainwright, Martin (6 February 2003). "Police interrogate sex strangler". The Guardian (London). 
  14. ^ a b c d "R v John Taylor [2006] EWHC 2944 (QB)". The National Archives. 13 October 2010. 
  15. ^ a b O'Hara, Kate (7 February 2003). "Two victims – same terrible nightmare". Yorkshire Post. 
  16. ^ a b c Bruce, David (5 February 2003). "Mask of fear". Yorkshire Evening Post. 
  17. ^ O'Hara, Kate (22 October 2002). "Did Leanne killer take a second girl's life?". Yorkshire Post. 
  18. ^ Gardner, Tony (23 April 2005). "Shipman's bizarre circle of jail pals". Yorkshire Evening Post.