Deemed too dangerous to ever be released from prison, Peter Tobin is one of Britain's most twisted serial killers. He was found guilty of the murders of three women, but police believe the real total could be much higher. As for Tobin himself, he brags of killing up to 48 people. But what is the truth behind the man known as the charming psychopath?
Charming, well-dressed, and utterly psychotic
‘Charming’ and ‘well-dressed’ – two words repeatedly used by the three former wives of Scottish serial killer Peter Tobin to describe him. Or at least, to describe how Tobin seems to be, when you first meet him. Before you get to see the real man beneath – the sadistic rapist, the twisted wife beater, the cold-blooded murderer.
Or, as psychologist and professor of criminology David Wilson, who wrote a book about Tobin prefers, the psychopath. While Tobin currently sits in jail, serving a whole life term for the killing of three young women, he’s believed to have murdered many more…
Born in Johnstone, Renfrewshire, in 1946, Tobin was known as a difficult child, and was sent to an approved school at the tender age of 7 – a kind of borstal for unruly young children. It was the start of Tobin’s criminal career. In his teens he spent time in a young offenders institution, and in 1970, aged 24, he was jailed for burglary and forgery.
Despite his criminal ways, this charming and well-dressed man had a way with the ladies. That was until he had them safely in his net. Then he became violent and sadistic.
After splitting from the mother of his son, in 1990, Tobin clearly missed the terror he’d inflicted on his wives, and searched for new prey.
In August 1993, he enticed two 14-year-old girls into his flat in Leigh Park, Havant, plied them with alcohol, then brutally raped and sexually assaulting them, before stabbing one then turning on the gas taps before he fled. The girls survived, and in May 1994 Tobin was jailed for 14 years.
The Murder of Angelika Kluk
He served 10 years, and returned to Scotland. By September 2006, Tobin was working as a handyman at St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, in Glasgow, under the false name ‘Pat McLaughlin’. It was while working here Tobin met 23-year-old Angelika Kluk, a Polish student who was working as a cleaner at the church to help finance her studies. She knew Tobin as a genial handyman, so it probably wasn’t difficult for him to lure Angelika to a small garage attached to the church. It was there he struck – bludgeoning her repeatedly about the head, before gagging, binding, and then raping her. When Tobin was done, he stabbed the terrified girl 16 times in the chest, before hiding her body beneath the floorboards of the chapel, next to the confession box. When the body was found five days later, tests showed she’d been alive when buried beneath the floor. Her injuries were so shocking, that when Tobin finally faced trial the following May 2007, members of the public were removed from court before pictures of her body could be shown.
Tobin was found guilty of rape and murder, and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 21 years. Which should have been the end of it. But police, suspecting Tobin of many other crimes, began to search his many former properties for evidence. DNA samples were compared with those from other unsolved murders, and in November 2007, police searched the back garden of a Margate house occupied by Tobin in 1991.
Bodies in the back garden
There they discovered the remains of 15-year-old Vicky Hamilton, who had disappeared while waiting for a bus in Falkirk 16 years earlier. Tobin, who had been living in the area at the time had moved to Margate in Kent just five weeks later, taking Vicky’s body with him.
Tests on Vicky’s body showed she’d been sedated by Tobin before being raped and murdered.
Horrifyingly, Vicky’s wasn’t the only body they found buried in the garden of Tobin’s former home in Margate. The body of another girl who vanished in 1991 – Dinah McNicol, 18, was also discovered.
Dinah had been hitchhiking home from a music festival with a friend, in August 1991, when they’d accepted a lift from Tobin. Dropping her male friend off first, Tobin is then believed to have drugged her, as he had Vicky Hamilton, then driven her to an unknown location where he murdered her.
Tobin was found guilty of Vicky Hamilton’s murder in December 2008, and an extra 30 years added to his previous 21-year-sentence. In December 2009, a jury found Tobin guilty of murdering Dinah McNicol, and he received his third life sentence, with the judge recommending he never be released.
Has Tobin killed more?
Police however believe Tobin may have been involved in many more crimes. He’s boasted of a further 48 victims while in prison, and there have long been rumours Tobin is actually the infamous killer ‘Bible John’, who murdered three women in Glasgow in the late 1960s and has never been caught. So far no other charges have been made against Tobin. Were his bragging claims of 48 more victims simply bluster? Only Peter Tobin knows for sure…