Peter Britton Tobin
27 August 1946
|Other names||up to forty aliases, including:|
(m. 1969; div. 1971)
(m. 1973; div. 1976)
(m. 1989; div. 1993)
|Conviction(s)||Burglary, forgery, murder, rape|
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment (whole-life order)|
Span of crimes
|10 February 1991–26 September 2006|
|Imprisoned at||HM Prison Edinburgh|
Peter Britton Tobin (born 27 August 1946) is a convicted Scottish serial killer and sex offender who is currently serving a whole life order at HM Prison Edinburgh for three murders committed between 1991 and 2006.
Prior to his first murder conviction, Tobin served ten years in prison for a double rape committed in 1993, following which he was released in 2004. Three years after his release, he was sentenced to life with a minimum of twenty-one years for the rape and murder of Angelika Kluk in Glasgow in 2006. Skeletal remains of two teenagers who went missing in 1991 were subsequently found at his former home in Margate, Kent. Tobin was convicted of the murder of Vicky Hamilton in December 2008, resulting in his minimum sentence being increased to thirty years, and of the murder of Dinah McNicol in December 2009, resulting in a whole life order.
Tobin has been labelled a psychopath by a senior psychologist and by criminology professor David Wilson, who also wrote a book on Tobin, connecting him with the Bible John murders in the late 1960s.
Early and personal life
Peter Tobin was born in Johnstone, Renfrewshire, Scotland, one of eight siblings. He had four older sisters and three older brothers. Tobin was a difficult child and in 1953, aged seven, he was sent to an approved school. He reportedly joined the French Foreign Legion but later deserted. Tobin later served time in a borstal and in 1970 was convicted and imprisoned in England for burglary and forgery.
Tobin moved to Brighton, Sussex, England, where he married his 17-year-old girlfriend, Margaret Louise Robertson Mountney, a clerk and typist, in August 1969. They separated after a year and she divorced him in 1971. In 1973, Tobin married a local nurse, 30-year-old Sylvia Jefferies. The couple had a son and a daughter, the latter of whom died soon after birth. This second violent marriage lasted until 1976, when Sylvia left with their son. Tobin then had a relationship with Cathy Wilson; the couple married in 1987, with a son arriving later that year. In 1990, they moved to Bathgate, West Lothian, Scotland. Wilson left Tobin in 1990 and moved back to Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, where she grew up.
All three wives later gave similar accounts of falling for a charming, well-dressed psychopath who turned violent and displayed a sadistic streak during their marriages. In May 1991, Tobin moved to Margate, Kent, and, in 1993, to Havant, Hampshire, to be near his younger son.
Rape of juveniles
On 4 August 1993, Tobin attacked two 14-year-old girls at his flat in Leigh Park, Havant, after they called to visit a neighbour who was not at home. They called at Tobin's flat and asked if they could wait there. After holding them at knifepoint and forcing them to drink strong cider and vodka, Tobin sexually assaulted and raped the girls, stabbing one of them whilst his younger son was present. He then turned on the gas taps and left them for dead, but they both survived the attack. To avoid arrest, Tobin went into hiding and joined the Jesus Fellowship, a religious sect in Coventry, under a false name. He was later captured in Brighton after his blue Austin Metro car was found there.
On 18 May 1994, at Winchester Crown Court, Tobin entered a plea of guilty and received a fourteen-year prison sentence. In 2004, Tobin, then 58 years old, was released from prison and returned to Paisley in Renfrewshire.
Angelika Kluk murder
In September 2006, Tobin was working as a church handyman at St Patrick's Church in Anderston, Glasgow. He had assumed the name of "Pat McLaughlin" to avoid detection, as he was still on the Violent and Sex Offender Register following his 1994 convictions for rape and assault. An arrest warrant had been issued for Tobin in November 2005 after he moved from Paisley without notifying the police, but he was not discovered until he became a suspect in Angelika Kluk's murder at the church. In May 2007, he received a further thirty-month sentence for breaching the terms of the register.
Kluk, a 23-year-old student from Poland, was staying at the presbytery of St Patrick's Church, where she worked as a cleaner to help finance her Scandinavian studies course at the University of Gdańsk. She was last seen alive in the company of Tobin on 24 September 2006, and is thought to have been attacked by him in the garage attached to the presbytery. Kluk was beaten, raped and stabbed, and her body was concealed in an underground chamber beneath the floor near the confessional in the church. Forensic evidence suggested that she was still alive when she was placed under the floorboards. Police found her body on 29 September, and Tobin was arrested in London shortly afterwards. He had been admitted to hospital under a false name, and with a fictitious complaint.
A six-week trial resulted from the evidence gathered under the supervision of Detective Superintendent David Swindle of Strathclyde Police, and took place at the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh, between 23 March and 4 May 2007. The trial judge was Lord Menzies, the prosecution was led by Advocate Depute Dorothy Bain, and the defence by Donald Findlay QC. Tobin was found guilty of raping and murdering Kluk and was sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of twenty-one years. In sentencing Tobin, Judge Lord Menzies described him as "an evil man".
Vicky Hamilton murder
In June 2007, Tobin's old house in Bathgate was searched in connection with the disappearance of 15-year-old Vicky Hamilton, who was last seen on 10 February 1991 as she waited for a bus home to Redding, near Falkirk. Tobin is believed to have left Bathgate for Margate a few weeks after her disappearance. On 21 July 2007, Lothian and Borders Police released a statement that they had "arrested, cautioned and charged a male in connection with the matter and a report has been submitted to the Procurator Fiscal", but did not immediately confirm the identity of the man arrested.
The investigation later led to a forensic search of a house in Southsea in early October 2007, where Tobin is believed to have lived shortly after leaving Bathgate. On 14 November 2007, Lothian and Borders Police confirmed that human remains found in the back garden of 50 Irvine Drive, a house in Margate occupied by Tobin in 1991, were those of Hamilton.
In November 2008, Tobin was tried at the High Court in Dundee for Hamilton's murder. He was again defended by Donald Findlay, while the prosecution was led by the Solicitor General for Scotland, Frank Mulholland QC. The prosecution case went beyond the circumstantial evidence of Tobin having lived at the two houses in Bathgate and Margate in 1991, and consisted of eyewitness testimony of suspicious behaviour by Tobin in Bathgate, evidence to destroy his alibi, and forensic evidence of DNA and fingerprints left on a dagger found in his former house, on Hamilton's purse and on the sheeting in which her body was wrapped.
You stand convicted of the truly evil abduction and murder of a vulnerable young girl in 1991 and thereafter of attempting to defeat the ends of justice in various ways over an extended period... Yet again you have shown yourself to be unfit to live in a decent society. It is hard for me to convey the loathing and revulsion that ordinary people will feel for what you have done... I fix the minimum period which you must spend in custody at 30 years. Had it been open to me I would have made that period run consecutive to the 21-year custodial period that you are already serving.
On 11 December 2008, Tobin gave formal notice to court officials that he intended to challenge the verdict and overturn the sentence imposed on him. His defence team was not required to describe the grounds for this appeal until a later date in the appeals process. Tobin did not proceed with his appeal and it was dropped in March 2009.
Dinah McNicol murder
Dinah McNicol, an 18-year-old sixth former from Tillingham, Essex, was last seen alive on 5 August 1991, hitchhiking home with a male companion from a music festival in Liphook, Hampshire. He was dropped off at Junction 8 of the M25, near Reigate, while McNicol stayed in the car with the driver. She was never seen again. After her disappearance, regular withdrawals were made from her building society account at cash machines in Hampshire and Sussex, out of character for McNicol, who had told friends and family that she intended to use the money in the account to travel or further her education.
In late 2007, Essex Police reopened the investigation into McNicol's disappearance, following new leads. On 16 November 2007, a second body was found at 50 Irvine Drive in Margate, later confirmed by police to be that of McNicol. On 1 September 2008, the Crown Prosecution Service served a summons on Tobin's solicitors, formally accusing him of her murder. This new trial began in June 2009, but was postponed and the jury discharged in the following month after the judge ruled that Tobin was not fit to stand trial pending surgery.
The case resumed on 14 December 2009 at Chelmsford Crown Court. On 16 December, after the defence had offered no evidence, a jury found Tobin guilty of McNicol's murder after deliberating for less than fifteen minutes, and Tobin subsequently received his third life sentence. That same day, police reopened Operation Anagram to trace Tobin's past movements and his possible involvement in a further thirteen unsolved murders, including the three victims of the unidentified killer Bible John. Tobin is reported to have claimed forty-eight victims in boasts made in prison.
Bible John connection
Tobin's convictions have led to speculation that he is Bible John, a serial killer who murdered three young women in Glasgow in the 1960s. There are similarities between photographs of Tobin from that era and the photofit artist's impression of Bible John, and Tobin had moved from Glasgow in 1969, the same year as the killings officially ended. Another similarity is that eyewitnesses told police that the suspect had one tooth missing in his upper-right area of the mouth; dental records proved that Tobin had a tooth removed around the late 1960s. Furthermore, it had been alleged that Tobin reacted violently to his victims' menstrual cycle, something which has long been suspected as the motive behind the Bible John murders. Police have not commented upon any similarities, but said that any surviving forensic evidence will be rechecked. Although DNA had been used to rule out a previous suspect, detectives believe a DNA link to Tobin is unlikely due to a deterioration of the samples through poor storage.
Operation Anagram is a nationwide police investigation into Tobin's life and movements. The investigation was started in 2006, after his first murder conviction, by DSI Swindle of Strathclyde Police, and increased in intensity in December 2009 after Tobin's third conviction. Through the HOLMES 2 database, police forces across the UK are involved in the operation, investigating the possibility of Tobin's connection to dozens of murders and disappearances of teenage girls and young women.
DSI Swindle, speaking after Tobin's 2006 conviction for the murder of Kluk, said that Tobin's age and the method of the murder sparked speculation that he may be a serial killer, as did interviews with Tobin. Anagram led to the discovery of the bodies of Hamilton and McNicol. It is believed that as of December 2009[update], detectives across the UK were following up on up to 1,400 lines of inquiry. As part of their renewed enquiries, police are especially interested in tracing the owners of jewellery items found at his residences.
In July 2010, it was reported that officers working on Operation Anagram had narrowed their review down to nine unsolved murders and disappearances. The operation was wound down in June 2011, having failed to identify any more victims, but its email address remains active.
On 9 August 2012, Tobin was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary after suffering chest pains and a suspected heart attack at the city's HM Prison Edinburgh. In February 2016, he was hospitalized again following a suspected stroke.
- "Piecing together serial killer Peter Tobin's past". BBC News. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "Killer Peter Tobin 'not linked' to unsolved deaths". BBC News. 24 December 2009. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- Wier, Nigel (30 December 2011). British Serial Killers. AuthorHouse. ISBN 9781467881401.
- "Peter Tobin on murder charge". The Daily Telegraph. London, England: Telegraph Media Group. 16 November 2007. Archived from the original on 18 November 2007. Retrieved 22 November 2007.
- "Timeline: Peter Tobin". 16 December 2009. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
- Cacciottolo, Mario (10 August 2012). "Serial killer Peter Tobin taken to hospital". BBC News. London, England: BBC. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
- "Piecing Together Serial Killer Peter Tobin's Past". bbc.co.uk. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
- Ross, Shan (17 December 2009). "Peter Tobin: Dozens of murders re-examined". The Scotsman. Edinburgh, Scotland: Johnston Press. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
- Peter Tobin profile, "Murtair Bitheanta", BBC Alba, 21 April 2010.
- "Timeline: Peter Tobin". BBC News. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
- "Man jailed for sex attacks on girls, 14: Teenagers plied with drink and drugs then assaulted, court told". The Independent. 18 May 1994. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- Lessware, Jonathan (4 May 2007). "Sex killer Tobin's violent past". BBC News. Retrieved 17 November 2007.
- "Second jail term for Kluk killer". BBC News. 22 May 2007. Retrieved 17 November 2007.
- Macaskill, Mark; Allardyce, Jason (1 October 2006). "Church murder suspect is fugitive sex offender". The Times. London. Retrieved 4 December 2008.
- "Body found in Glasgow church". The Times. London, UK. 30 September 2006. Retrieved 14 November 2007.
- Lister, David (2 October 2006). "Sister writes of her anguish over student found murdered in church". The Times. London, UK. Retrieved 14 November 2007.
- "Witness tells Kluk trial of hearing 'horrible' screams". The Scotsman. 19 April 2006. Archived from the original on 1 November 2007. Retrieved 18 November 2007.
- "Timeline: Angelika murder case". BBC News. 7 May 2007. Retrieved 4 August 2007.
- "Key figures in Angelika Kluk trial". BBC News. 7 May 2007. Retrieved 4 August 2007.
- "Tobin guilty of Angelika's murder". BBC News. 4 May 2006. Retrieved 18 November 2007.
- Swanson, Ian (17 July 2007). "Vicky: 16-year mystery close to an end". Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 21 July 2007.
- "Man arrested over missing Vicky". BBC News. 21 July 2007. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
- Morris, Adam (3 October 2007). "Vicky hunt heads south". Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 26 October 2007.
- "Police ID body in Peter Tobin garden". Sky News. 14 November 2007. Retrieved 14 November 2007.
- "Vicky trial told about home swap". BBC News. 13 November 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2008.
- "Neighbour 'spotted Vicky accused'". BBC News. 12 November 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2008.
- Cook, James (2 December 2008). "How forensic science caught Tobin". BBC News. Retrieved 5 December 2008.
- "Trial announced for Vicky accused". BBC News. 10 June 2008. Retrieved 16 July 2008.
- "Tobin guilty of schoolgirl murder". BBC. 2 December 2008. Retrieved 2 December 2008.
- "HMA v Peter Britton Tobin – High Court ruling" (PDF). BBC News. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
- "Tobin to appeal Vicky conviction". BBC News. 11 December 2008. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
- "Tobin drops Vicky Hamilton murder appeal". Heraldscotland.com. 13 March 2009. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
- Perks, Kim (5 November 2007). "What happened to Dinah McNicol?". Essex Police. Archived from the original on 27 June 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
- "Second body confirmed as Dinah's". BBC News. 20 November 2007. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
- "Trial of child killer Peter Tobin halted due to illness". The Telegraph. London, UK. 7 July 2009. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
- Evans, Martin (14 December 2009). "Peter Tobin 'buried teenage victim at suburban house'". The Telegraph. London, UK. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
- "Peter Tobin is guilty of Dinah McNicol murder". BBC News. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
- Cacciottolo, Mario (16 December 2009). "Piecing together serial killer Peter Tobin's past". BBC News. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
- Wilson, David (27 December 2009). "Killer question". The Sunday Times. London, England: Times Media Group. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
- Hamilton, Tom (5 March 2010). "Legendary Glasgow detective tells why he believes serial killer Peter Tobin was notorious murderer Bible John". Daily Record. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
- Reid, Melanie (8 May 2007). "Was Angelika's murderer the infamous Bible John?". The Times. London, UK. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
- "Peter Tobin is guilty of Dinah McNicol murder". BBC News. London: BBC. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
- Bird, Steve (13 December 2009). "Serial killer Peter Tobin found guilty of murdering Dinah McNicol in 13 minutes". The Times. London, UK: News Corporation. Retrieved 16 December 2009.
- Operation Anagram – Statement By Detective Superintendent David Swindle, strathclyde.police.uk; accessed 30 August 2017.
- Cacciottolo, Mario (16 December 2009). "Piecing together serial killer Peter Tobin's past". BBC News. London, UK: BBC. Retrieved 16 December 2009.
- "Tobin jewellery images released". BBC News. 17 December 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
- "Police interview Peter Tobin over 'serious sexual crimes'", Edinburgh Evening News, 29 July 2010, retrieved 2 September 2010
- "Peter Tobin police probe Operation Anagram 'wound down'". BBC News. 9 June 2011.
- "Serial killer Peter Tobin in hospital after 'stroke'". BBC News. 15 February 2016.