Peter Tobin
Peter Britton Tobin

(1946-08-27) 27 August 1946 (age 75)
Johnstone, Renfrewshire, Scotland, UK
Other namesup to forty aliases,[1] including:
  • Peter Wilson
  • James Kelly
  • Paul Semple
  • John Semple
  • John Tobin
  • Pat McLaughlin[2]
Spouse(s)Margaret Mountney
(m. 1969; div. 1971)
Sylvia Jefferies
(m. 1973; div. 1976)
Cathy Wilson
(m. 1989; div. 1993)
Conviction(s)Burglary, forgery, murder, rape
Criminal penaltyLife imprisonment (whole-life order)
Span of crimes
10 February 1991–26 September 2006
Imprisoned atHM Prison Edinburgh

Peter Britton Tobin[3][4] (born 27 August 1946)[5] is a Scottish convicted serial killer and sex offender who is currently serving a whole life order at HM Prison Edinburgh[6] for three murders committed between 1991 and 2006.[7] In addition to these three murders, police believe Tobin is responsible for other deaths.[8]

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. 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[9] and by criminology professor David Wilson, who also wrote a book on Tobin, connecting him with the Bible John murders in the late 1960s. Tobin has himself reportedly boasted in prison of having murdered a total of 48 people.[10]

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.[11] He reportedly joined the French Foreign Legion but later deserted.[11] Tobin later served time in a borstal and in 1970 was convicted and imprisoned in England for burglary and forgery.[12]

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.[5] 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.[5] In 1990, they moved to Bathgate, West Lothian, Scotland. Wilson left Tobin in 1990 and moved back to Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, where she had grown up.[12]

All three wives later gave similar accounts of falling for a charming, well-dressed psychopath[11] 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.[12]


Rape of juveniles

On 4 August 1993, Tobin attacked two 14-year-old girls at his flat in Leigh Park, Havant, after they went to visit a neighbour who was not at home.[13] They stopped at Tobin's flat and asked if they could wait there. After holding them at knife-point 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.[11] 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.[14]

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.[14]

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.[15][16]

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,[17] and Tobin was arrested in London shortly afterwards.[18] He had been admitted to hospital under a false name, and with a fictitious complaint.[19]

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.[20] The trial judge was Lord Menzies, the prosecution was led by Advocate Depute Dorothy Bain, and the defence by Donald Findlay QC.[21] 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".[22]

Vicky Hamilton murder

In June 2007, Tobin's former 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.[23] 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.[24]

Tobin's house at 50 Irvine Drive, Margate. The bodies of Vicky Hamilton and Dinah McNicol were found in the garden.
Tobin's house at 50 Irvine Drive, Margate. The bodies of Vicky Hamilton and Dinah McNicol were found in the garden.

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.[25] On 14 November 2007, Lothian and Borders Police confirmed that human remains found in the back garden of 50 Irvine Drive,[26] a house in Margate occupied by Tobin in 1991, were those of Hamilton.[27]

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,[28] evidence to destroy his alibi,[29] 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.[30]

After a month-long trial, Tobin was convicted of Hamilton's murder on 2 December 2008.[31][32] When sentencing Tobin to life imprisonment, the judge said:

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.[33]

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.[34] Tobin did not proceed with his appeal and it was dropped in March 2009.[35]

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 friend from a music festival in Liphook, Hampshire. While hitchhiking, they accepted a ride from a male subject. Her friend 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.[36]

In late 2007, Essex Police reopened the investigation into McNicol's disappearance, following new leads.[36] On 16 November 2007, a second body was found at 50 Irvine Drive in Margate, later confirmed by police to be that of McNicol.[37] 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.[38]

The case resumed on 14 December 2009 at Chelmsford Crown Court.[39] 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.[40] 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.[41]

Bible John connection

Further information: Bible John § Peter Tobin links

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.[42] 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.[43] 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.[citation needed] 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.[44] 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.[42] As of early 2021 Tobin denies being Bible John.[citation needed]

Operation Anagram

Operation Anagram was a nationwide police investigation into Tobin's life and movements. The investigation began 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.[45][46][47]

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, detectives across the UK were following up on up to 1,400 lines of inquiry.[48] As part of their renewed inquiries, police were especially interested in tracing the owners of jewellery items found at his residences.[49]

In July 2010, it was reported that officers working on Operation Anagram had narrowed their review down to nine unsolved murders and disappearances.[50] The operation was wound down in June 2011, having failed to identify any more victims, but its email address remains active.[51]

Louise Kay investigation

One case Tobin has been linked to is the disappearance of 18-year-old Louise Kay from Beachy Head in Eastbourne during 1988.[52] Kay was never seen again after telling a friend she was going to sleep in her car at Beachy Head after an evening with friends, something she had done previously.[52] Inexplicably, neither Kay nor her gold Ford Fiesta car with a white door have ever been seen again.[52] Operation Anagram established that Tobin was working in a hotel in Eastbourne at the time she disappeared, and learned that he was selling a small hand-painted car after she vanished.[52] Tobin had history working with dealing cars for an auction company, and also had links to scrapyards.[52] It is thought Tobin could have re-painted Kay's car and then sold it on to hide his crime.[52] Kay had met an mysterious 'Scottish man' shortly before she disappeared, and it was known that he had given her money for petrol for her car.[52] Kay's case was featured on Crimewatch in 1994.[53]

The lead DSI of Operation Anagram, DSI Swindle, stated in 2018 that he believes that Tobin killed Kay.[52] Detectives investigated whether Tobin was responsible but could never prove his involvement.[52] At the time of the disappearance, Tobin owned the property 22 Windlesham Road in Brighton; the house and its garden have never been searched for remains.[52] Operation Anagram had ordered the search of two houses that Tobin had owned in Brighton in relation to the search for Kay, but had not ordered the search of the Windlesham Road property.[52] Former police officer and investigator Mark Williams-Thomas stated in a documentary in 2018, part of his The Investigator: A British Crime Story series, that he believes the body of Kay is still buried in the garden of the property.[52]

Jessie Earl investigation

Apparently related to the case of Louise Kay was the murder of 22-year-old Jessie Earl in 1980, a murder that was one of those reinvestigated by Operation Anagram.[54][52] Earl had also disappeared from Eastbourne, and her skeletonised body was found in 1989 concealed in dense shrubland on Beachy Head, the same place Louise Kay had vanished from in 1988.[55][52] Her own bra had been tied around her hands to restrain her.[52] As with Kay, Tobin was living in the area at the time of her murder.[56] In 2012, criminologist David Wilson produced a documentary as part of his Killers Behind Bars: The Untold Story series, in which he made his case to support the theory that Earl was a likely victim of Tobin.[57] In Mark Williams-Thomas's 2018 documentary on Louise Kay, he also supported the theory that Tobin could be responsible for Earl's death after linking her case to Kay's disappearance.[52]

Other links investigated

Operation Anagram also investigated and in some cases disproved links between Tobin and other murders and disappearances, including:

Other links speculated by the media

As well as the links to Tobin investigated by Anagram, there have been a number of links speculatively suggested in the media between Tobin and other murders, although links to some have been explicitly ruled out by police:


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 hospitalised again following a suspected stroke.[80] On 13 January 2022, Tobin was hospitalised after collapsing, but was returned to prison after less than two days.[81]

See also


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