Found guilty in 15 minutes: the serial killer

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Serial killer Peter Tobin was today ordered to spend the rest of his life behind bars after being convicted of a third murder - that of teenager Dinah McNicol 18 years ago.

Tobin, 63, from Johnstone, Renfrewshire, was found guilty of killing the 18-year-old sixth former after a three-day trial at Chelmsford Crown Court. The jury had deliberated for just 15 minutes.

Miss McNicol was the second young woman Tobin murdered in 1991 - 18 months after the break-up of his marriage.

She vanished in August 1991 while hitchhiking to her home in Tillingham, Essex, after leaving a music festival in Liphook, Hampshire.

Six months earlier, Tobin had killed 15-year-old Vicky Hamilton of Redding, Stirlingshire.

But he was not caught until 2006, when he was arrested for killing Polish student Angelika Kluk, whose remains were hidden in a church in Glasgow where the handyman had worked.

After Tobin was found guilty of murdering Miss Kluk, police dug up the back garden at one of his former homes in Margate, Kent.

There they discovered Vicky's body. Then Dinah's remains were found buried nearby four days later.

Both young women had been drugged. Forensic tests showed Vicky had been sexually assaulted and Dinah strangled with a ligature.

Inquiries also revealed Tobin had plundered more than £2,000 from Miss McNicol's building society account.

Tobin, who denied murder, is serving life sentences for the murders of Vicky and Miss Kluk, a 23-year-old Polish student on holiday in the UK.

The Chelmsford jury was not told about Miss Kluk's murder.

Following the Hamilton trial in 2008 a judge ruled Tobin must serve 30 years before being considered for parole.

But after today's guilty verdict, Judge Mr Justice Calvert-Smith said: "The mandatory life sentence in this case has to be accompanied by a whole life order."

The judge told Tobin: "On all three occasions the evidence against you was overwhelming, yet you refused to come to terms with your guilt."

Tobin showed no emotion as the jury of nine men and three women returned its unanimous verdict.

Ian McNicol, Miss McNicol's father, was in court to hear the verdict. He also showed no emotion.

Vicky's father, Michael, joined Mr McNicol in the public gallery.

Before entering court to hear the verdict, Mr Hamilton said: "He (Tobin) deserves everything he gets."

Afterwards he told reporters: "It's brilliant. The one good thing is he's not going to be out on the streets any more.

"I wanted to come down here today to give my support to Ian and that's what I've done."

He added: "I'm glad he's going to be in prison for the rest of his life. I hope he lives to be 100."

As Tobin was led from the dock Miss McNicol's father Ian hugged relatives and friends.

One friend, Pat Dennis, held a written sign to the glass-fronted dock which only Tobin and security guards could see.

It read: "May all your dreams be nightmares."

Mrs Dennis said: "I'm a friend of Dinah's. I just wanted him to know how I felt."

Mr Justice Calvert-Smith praised the families of Vicky Hamilton and Dinah McNicol for the way they had conducted themselves during the hearing.

"They have behaved with conspicuous moderation during the course of proceedings," he said.

"I only hope at least some degree of finality has been achieved."

The judge said Tobin had been in trouble throughout his life and his crimes had become worse.

"You have been in and out of trouble pretty well all your life," said the judge, "starting with Borstal training in the 1960s."

He said Tobin's attack on the two girls in Havant, Hampshire could have been worse adding: "It seems that it was only by the grace of God that you did not face two further charges of murder on that occasion."

The judge told Tobin: "This is the third time you have stood in the dock for murder.

"On all three occasions the evidence against you was overwhelming.

"Yet even now you refuse to come to terms with your guilt."

He said Tobin's refusal to co-operate with police meant that Miss McNicol's family knew nothing about the circumstances of her death.

Mr Justice Calvert-Smith praised detectives involved in the inquiry and said Tobin had "a fair trial".

Police across the UK have been investigating dozens of unsolved murders that may have been carried out by Tobin.

Detective Superintendent David Swindle, of Strathclyde Police, who set up Operation Anagram, welcomed today's verdict, and vowed that forces across Britain would continue their investigations - even after Tobin's death if necessary.

He said: "Peter Tobin has now been found guilty for the brutal murders of three young women. Who knows if he has killed others?

"I would like to take this opportunity of assuring members of the public, the length and breadth of the United Kingdom that we will continue to actively scrutinise his movements throughout his lifetime.

"No stone will be left unturned and every single piece of information gathered will be investigated by forces throughout the UK to establish if he was responsible for any other crimes.

"Anagram will continue until every action has been completed.

"If this takes years then so be it. If Peter Tobin dies, it will not mean that the investigation ends.

"It is vital and important that we continue for the sake of closure for the victims families.

"There may be people who have lost a loved one and if he has been responsible then we must ensure that justice is carried out on their behalf."

He added: "This has been a harrowing year for the family of Dinah McNicol.

"Twice, they have had to endure listening to the horrific details of Dinah's murder being graphically described in open court.

"Peter Tobin has shown absolutely no remorse. He could have saved her family the ordeal of having to go through yet another trial by admitting his guilt. This man has obviously no regard for any other human being.

"I sincerely hope that Dinah's family can now try to put the disturbing aspects of her murder behind them and move on with their lives."

One of the detectives, who investigated Miss McNicol's disappearance in the early 1990s, today spoke of his "satisfaction" and said he had never given up hope.

Derek Nickol, a retired detective sergeant, said: "Satisfaction is a difficult word in these circumstances. But I am delighted now this has been resolved.

"Many years ago the evidence was not there.

"But I always held out hope."

Mr Nickol featured on an appeal on the BBC television Crimewatch programme following Miss McNicol's disappearance and retired from the police two years ago.

Chris McCann, of the Crown Prosecution Service in Essex, said: "We are pleased for the family of Dinah and all who knew and loved her that this case has been brought to a successful conclusion.

"Tobin abducted her and murdered her in cold blood and went to great lengths to hide his crimes for more than a decade as her body and that of Vicky Hamilton lay underground in his back garden.

"We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the witnesses for coming forward to help the prosecution in this case and for going through what must have been an ordeal of reliving such events from more than 18 years ago.

"We hope everyone involved - and especially Dinah's father Ian and her siblings - can now move forward with their lives and our deepest sympathies are with them at this difficult time."

Outside court, Miss McNicol's half-sister Sara Tizard said: "After all these years, we at last know the truth and justice has prevailed.

"We would like to put the trial behind us and remember Dinah as the unique and inspiring daughter and sister that she was."

Miss McNicol's father Ian said nothing but nodded when asked if his nightmare was over.

Detective Superintendent Tim Wills, of Essex Police, speaking outside Chelmsford Crown Court, said: "Rarely matters come before courts in this country that demonstrate human behaviour that is so self-serving and evil.

"Today I will finish my day at work satisfied that he will never walk free again amongst the communities he committed such vile acts against."

He added: "Peter Tobin I can only describe as pure evil. He has shown no remorse for killing Dinah or any of the other women he has been convicted of killing."