The Many Crimes of Serial Killer Peter Tobin

September 24, 2006, Angelika Kluk, a 23 year old Polish student living in Glasgow, Scotland, was raped, beaten and hidden under the floorboards of St. Patrick’s Church.

It was a truly brutal crime. She was bound, gagged, stabbed 16 times and bludgeoned to the head repeatedly. Her broken body was found five days later.

Forensics lead experts to believe she was still alive when placed in the hole by the church’s confessional .

Angelika Kluk
St Patricks Church

She had last been seen helping caretaker Pat McLaughlin, one of many fake names used by a man with a very dark and violent past.

Angelika was not his first victim, but hopefully his last.

Having only turned up at the church 6 weeks earlier, the parish priest had claimed “Pat” was “a godsend,” helping at the twice-weekly homeless soup kitchen, before offering to do odd jobs around the building.

Angelika was helping him paint a shed. She had taken on a cleaning job at the church to help pay for her studies and board.

Using a fake name helped “Pat” hide the fact he was on the Violent and Sex Offender Register and had been since 1994.

On September 28th, a few days before her body was found, police released a photo of the man known as Pat McLaughlin, an odd-job man who was thought to be the last person to have seen Angelika.

Once DNA was taken from her body, the world learned the truth — “Pat” was really Peter Britton Tobin.

Tobin still had an outstanding arrest warrant that had been issued for him the year before. After he moved from Paisley without notifying the police, he was finally traced and arrested in London on October 1st, where he had been admitted to hospital under another false name. He was then taken back to Scotland for questioning in the murder of the young woman.

Peter Tobin 2005

Tobin had been in and out of the prison system since he was a child, entering reform school at the age of seven, then Borstal and later jail sentences for burglary, forgery and conspiracy.

His first wife Margaret claimed he often locked her away in rooms all day. She could not go out without him. She lived a life of torture with Tobin, who she met at dance hall and married in 1969 when she was only seventeen.

He raped his wife three or four times and had stabbed her, leaving her for dead. She was rescued by a neighbor who saw blood coming through the ceiling.

Tobin left her unable to have children after inserting the knife inside her and cutting her internally.

Recalling the hell of their marriage Margaret said, “He got me a black Labrador puppy, but I hadn’t had Bute long when he cut off its head while I was at the shops and threw it out the window. I found boys in the yard using the head as a football.”

When he was jailed for a series of thefts in the early 1970’s, she was able to leave him for good.

Tobin remarried in 1973 to a woman named Sylvia Jeffries. She divorced him three years later after their second child, a daughter, died at two days old due to breathing difficulties. Taking a carrier bag with some stuff for their older child and a push chair, she escaped in fear to a refuge, then to a safe house in London. During their short marriage he had violently abused her and their dog.

In August 1993, he raped a 14-year-old girl and sexually assaulted another, forcing one of them at knife-point to take sedatives while they were baby-sitting his infant son.

After this he went on the run. Tobin attempted to hide within a church community until May 1994 when he was arrested, sent to trial and given 14 years behind bars, of which he served 10.

This was when his third wife, Cathy Wilson, was able to get him out of her life for good. Cathy was 16 years old, 24 years Tobin’s junior, when they met at a dance hall in 1989. They had a child together, named Daniel.

During her troubled childhood she’d been abused, spent time in care and saw her mum beaten and her hair set alight. She saw Tobin as an escape, but really he had just picked another vulnerable victim.


“He was all sweetness,” she said, “until he had me where he wanted me. Once I was pregnant, he changed and used Daniel to control me. It was always threats to kill or hurt Daniel if I left. He would even pick him up and mimic throwing him to the floor. I felt like a prisoner.”

In 2005, just months before Angelika’s murder, 24-year-old Cheryl McLachlan said Tobin attacked her in his flat in Paisley. Her then boyfriend often watched football with him and she accepted an invite to go and watch TV with Tobin alone.

“I looked down the side of the seat and there was a belt and a tie, I thought he was going to tie me up,” she said.

As she tried to leave he attacked her with a knife. She fought for her life and managed to escape with a cut hand and a lifetime of mental damage. The ordeal plunged her into a spiral of drinking and depression. When she became pregnant she thought it would help her move on but instead she had her child taken away by social services.

Cheryl said: “I’m not in a good place. I don’t like to think about the attack or about him if I can help it. Drink helps me blot it out.”

“I’ve moved around a lot to different houses. I don’t know what I’m trying to escape, maybe him. I had trouble sleeping after it happened and was stressed. I just couldn’t cope.”

She claims she knows just how close she became to being another of his victims.

This is when he changed his name again and disappeared to St Patricks church.

Peter Tobin

When the trial for Angelika’s murder began in Scotland, he claimed they had a consensual sexual relationship but denied killing her. However, the quantity of forensic evidence against him was overwhelming: as well as his sperm found in her underwear, his DNA was also found on a kitchen cloth stuffed into her mouth, his fingerprints were on items found with the body, and a pair of jeans steeped in her blood had been abandoned in a wheelie bin at the church complex.

During the trial the churches Father, Gerry Nugent, admitted he was an alcoholic and had used his position to have sex with student Angelika Kluk, and was kicked from the church.

He died in 2010 but police were still looking into his inappropriate sexual relations with adults and the “allegations relating to minors that only emerged after his removal.”

Father Gerry Nugent


The community and congregation were shocked and appalled over the news. They couldn’t believe what was going on behind church doors — including the very lax background checks on employees.

Trial judge Lord Menzies noted, this was not a murder mystery; it was one of the more remarkable murder trials to take place in Scotland in recent years.


Operation Anagram

This lead police to start the Operation Anagram task force, looking into the many aliases and moves of Tobin, to connect any other rapes and murders with the killer.

It linked them to one of Scotland’s biggest missing-persons’ inquiries, the 1991 disappearance of 15-year-old Vicky Hamilton.


Vicky Hamilton

Vicky Hamilton


The school girl was last seen on the 10th February ’91, waiting for a bus in Bathgate, West Lothian, as she made her way home from a night out.

She never made it home.

Officers took 3,076 statements and spoke to 6,536 people at the time, but Tobin was not one of them.

For 11 days there was no news of Vicky, until there came an apparent breakthrough. A chef on his way to work in the center of Edinburgh found her purse lying in a gutter. The purse was dry and its contents were intact.

It’s thought Tobin had dumped the purse between the city’s main railway and bus stations to fool the police into thinking that Vicky was a runaway. It was a trick that tormented her family, but would eventually help put him away for life.

Vicky’s purse.

When Tobin’s name was eventually linked to the reopened inquiry in 2006, police discovered that Tobin had been living in the same area at the same time. Detective Chief Inspector Anderson said the latest forensic sciences came into play.

He said: “The main thing that we had which belonged to Vicky was her purse. That purse was subjected to DNA examination and we were able to identify the DNA as belonging to the son of Peter Tobin. From there we went to 11 Robertson Avenue where we carried out a deep forensic search.”

When they searched his former home they found evidence, including a dagger, with Vicky’s DNA still on it.

Tobin was detained by police and questioned for four hours by Detective Sergeant Alan Goar and Detective Constable David Crookston.

Detective Goar asked him: “How did the skin get on the knife and how did the knife get up in the loft?”

Tobin replied: “I haven’t got a clue but it was my knife that was in the loft. End of story.”

The detectives also confronted Tobin with the purse.

“Do you have any explanation for that at this moment?” Tobin was asked.

He replied: “No, none.”

Knife found on his property with Vicky’s DNA still on it.

After her murder Tobin had left Bathgate, this time heading to the South East of England, swapping council houses to move 500 miles away.

Moving her dismembered body all the way down the county, burying Vicky in his new backyard. Still wearing her mother’s rings.

His neighbor believes he saw him digging what would become Vicky’s grave.

The neighbor told the police: “I looked over the fence one day and saw him digging this massive hole in the garden and I said what are you doing Pete? You going for Australia? And he said ‘no’, he said, ‘I’m digging a sandpit for the lad when he comes up, somewhere for him to play’. And then about two days went by and it was all filled in and flattened off.”

As a result, in November 2007, officers began a detailed forensic search of his house and back garden in Irvine Drive, Margate, Kent. Specialist equipment, including ground-penetrating radar, was brought in.

They then started to take his garden apart. They found one set of partial remains, bounded and gagged, partially clothed and a second set of remains…

Police investigating the garden of the old home of Peter Tobin in Margate, Kent

Dinah McNicol

The second set of remains belonged to Dinah McNicol.

She was 18 when she disappeared on the 6th August 1991 while hitch-hiking home from a music festival with a friend in Liphook, Hampshire. Her friend was dropped off, leaving Dinah alone with the driver.

Children’s toys in the car lead them to believe he was nonthreatening. Tobin’s ex-wife Cathy feels he left their sons playthings on display for this purpose.

Every night for 10 days following her disappearance, Dinah’s cash card had been used in a chain of towns in the south-east – Hove, Brighton, Portslade, Margate and Ramsgate.

She was discovered buried in two bin bags, that had three thumbprints and one fingerprint on, just a few feet away from the body of Vicky Hamilton.

She had been drugged and hacked in half at the waist. A thin layer of concrete had been poured around the grave.

Her father, Ian McNicol visited the house and said the family would now be able to lay her to rest and grieve.

Dinah

Exactly how he murdered Vicky is not known, but a post-mortem examination revealed the presence of amitriptyline in her body, an anti-depressant with sedative side effects which Tobin had been prescribed before the murder. It was also the same drug used when he had attacked two teenage girls in Hampshire in 1993, later found in Dinah’s system.

The evidence led police to conclude that Tobin had drugged and sexually assaulted Vicky and then killed her, possibly by strangulation, before using the knife to cut her body in two.

After a month-long High Court trial in Dundee, Tobin was convicted of Hamilton’s murder on 2nd December 2008, with 122 witnesses giving evidence.

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.”

Those crimes are enough to keep Peter Tobin behind bars for the rest of his life but are not, by far, the only crimes he has been linked to.

Susan Long

18 year old Susan disappeared after leaving a dance hall in Norfolk on the evening of the 10th March 1970. Her body was found the next morning by the milkman.

She had been sexually assaulted and strangled.

Susan Long

Pamela Exall

Pamela went missing in August 1974 from a campsite in Norfolk. No trace has ever been found of her. Jewelry found in Tobin’s possession apparently looked similar to what Pamela had on her when she disappeared.

Pamela Exell

Louise Kay

In 1988, 18-year-old Louise went missing in Polegate, East Sussex. Tobin was living in Brighton but working as a hotel handyman – a mile or so from where she went missing after a night out with friends.

She has never been found.

Many have called for police to dig the garden of the property he was living in at the time.

Nicola Payne

Nicola was an 18 year old mum who went missing in December 1991 near her parents home in Coventry. Tobin was known to have been in the area at the time but some believe it to be unlikely.

One author has even claimed they feel Fred West was linked to her disappearance

Nicola Payne.

Bible John

Crimes against women that are unlikely ever to be solved due to degraded DNA samples have a lot of similarities to Tobin’s attacks.

The unidentified killer operated by meeting victims at the Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow, Scotland, between 1968 and 1969. The same ballroom where Tobin met his 1st and 3rd wife.

Patricia Docker, 25, Jemima McDonald, 32, and Helen Puttock, 29, were the victims. Murdered close to their doorsteps, raped and strangled with their stockings. All had been menstruating at the time and all three had sanitary napkins or tampons placed on or near the bodies, and each had a missing handbag.

Patricia Docker

Nurse Patricia was found naked, save for her shoes—close to the doorway of the lock-up garage. People reported hearing a woman scream “Leave me alone!” but no solid evidence was found at the scene.

Jemima McDonald

Jemima didn’t make it home after a night out dancing in 1969. The mother of three was found the next day, naked and battered to death, by her sister who had heard local children talking about a body in an abandoned building.

 Helen Puttock 

Helen’s partially stripped and beaten body was found next to a drain pipe outside her flat by a dog walker. The contents of her bag were spread across the area, though the handbag itself was never found.

She had been out with her sister Jean. They shared a taxi ride with a man they had met outside. Quoting from the Old Testament and referring to the Barrowland Ballroom as an “adulterous den of iniquity” he wanted to help them home.

Jean was dropped off outside her house and watched the taxi with her sister and the gentleman drive away and turn the corner.

Her description lead to the drawing and name “Bible John,” and it was the first forensic drawing in Scottish history of an individual suspected of murder to be given for public viewing.

Jean Langford died in September 2010 at the age of 74, never knowing for sure who murdered her sister. Only once did she talk about the murder, decades later, and she did not believe Tobin was the man in the taxi that day.

A few other men have been looked into as suspects, including John McInnes. McInnes’ remains were exhumed but tests were inconclusive.

No further progress has been made in any of these cases and due to the poor DNA evidence, it’s unlikely there ever will be.

Well known Scottish Detective, who went on to be head of Glasgow’s CID, Joe Jackson, is convinced that Bible John is Tobin.

Drawing of “Bible John” , younger photo of Tobin, early 00’s photo of Tobin.

Believed to have up to 40 aliases, including Peter Wilson, James Kelly, Paul Semple, John Tobin, Peter Proban and Pat McLaughlin, to name a few, he was able to avoid crimes being linked to him and able to move around the country with relative ease.

Many believe he could have killed up to 50 women from the 60’s until 2006. Tobin reportedly taunted a prison psychiatrist that he had killed 48, then told them to “prove it.”

Police found items of jewelry in his home, that they believe could belong to unknown victims which they are still trying to trace.

Two of the items police are trying to trace the owners of.

Tobin is currently serving three life sentences in HMP Edinburgh with a whole life order. He rarely leaves his cell after a suspected stroke and cancer diagnosis.

Operation Anagram was wound down in 2011, having failed to identify any more victims, but its email address remains active.

Dan McNicol, Dinah’s brother said he hoped the man would now reveal the full extent of his crimes.

He said: “I’ve always said that every day he is alive and in prison, I hope he suffers. I don’t want him to die – I want him to live to be 100 so he is suffering like he made his victims suffer.”

When asked about other victims, the serial killer Tobin says:

“I couldn’t give a f***.”

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