Killer trapped by son's DNA

The mystery of Vicky Hamilton's disappearance in 1991 has finally been solved after a convicted murderer was found guilty of killing her

A 62-year-old handyman with a brutal history of sexual violence against women was found guilty yesterday of murdering a schoolgirl whose disappearance in 1991 sparked one of Britain's biggest missing person hunts.

Peter Tobin, who was already serving a life sentence for the murder and rape of a Polish student in a Glasgow church in 2006, was given a minimum of 30 years in jail at the High Court in Dundee for abducting and dismembering 15-year-old Vicky Hamilton in 1991 as she made her way home after visiting her sister in West Lothian.

Her body was found buried in Tobin's back garden in Margate, Kent last year, prompting searches at up to 20 addresses and leading to detectives re-investigating the unsolved cases of more than a dozen women who had been murdered or gone missing since the 1960s.

Police who interviewed Tobin said he had showed no remorse for his actions, insisting he was innocent despite the overwhelming evidence against him.

Vicky's father shouted "rot in hell" as Judge Lord Emslie described Tobin's serial crimes as "among the most evil and horrific acts that any human being could commit" at the end of the 21-day trial. He said: "Once again, you have shown yourself to be unfit to live in a decent society."

Tobin, whose three wives all left him because of his violence, was brought to justice after police linked the DNA found on the missing teenager's purse to that of his son. In a macabre twist that was to be his undoing, the toddler was given the wallet as a toy after his father had lured the girl to his home at Robertson Avenue, Bathgate, West Lothian, drugged, sexually assaulted her and cut her body in two.

Tobin then dumped the purse in Edinburgh, a bid to convince the world that Vicky Hamilton had run away. Detectives described the teenager as a lonely, insecure girl. She had been anxious about making the bus trip to her sister's flat in Livingston from her home in Falkirk and police believe she was abducted by Tobin as she bought chips and asked for directions after changing buses in Bathgate.

At his house, she was given the anti-depressant amitriptyline, a drug on which Tobin had attempted to overdose the previous year. It is believed she may have remained alive for up to six hours before she died, most likely from strangulation. During those horrific last hours, she fought back against her attacker, suffering bruising to her hands.

Tobin celebrated the murder by going drinking in Bathgate where witnesses said he was in high spirits. On his return, the odd-job man used a long-bladed knife to cut the girl's body in two, trussing up the parts with an old window sash. He then wrapped them up like "Russian-dolls" using curtains and bin bags.

The body remained at the house for more than a month until Tobin moved to Irvine Drive, Margate. Among the possessions he squeezed into his second-hand van for the overnight drive 500 miles south were the two large packages containing the remains. Once there, he buried them under concrete and earth, telling the neighbour David Martin who spotted him digging that he was building a sand pit for his son to play in during custody visits.

Vicky's mother died in 1993, a virtual recluse destroyed by grief and guilt at the loss of her daughter. But Tobin remained undetected. During their investigation, police questioned more than 6,500 people and took more than 3,000 statements. In 1994, Tobin was jailed for 14 years for raping and sodomising two teenage girls in Portsmouth, Hampshire. Once again he used amitriptyline to subdue them. He was released after 10 years.

It was not until October 2006 when Tobin was arrested in Glasgow for the rape and murder of Polish student, Angelika Kluk, in a Catholic church that his name entered the investigation. Police had launched a cold-case review of the disappearance and still hadVicky's purse, planted by Tobin between Edinburgh's main bus and railway stations. Crucially, it still contained the DNA of the killer's child. A search of his former home in the town unveiled the five-inch knife in the loft that he had used to cut up the girl's body. It contained a fragment of her skin. The hunt moved southwards, retracing Tobin's steps to Margate where radar equipment revealed her body buried in the garden.

So tightly was she wrapped that even her liver remained well enough preserved to find evidence of the drugs administered 17 years earlier. Her mother's rings, worn as a treat during that visit to her sister on that snowy night in February 1991, were still on her fingers.

Detectives who visited Tobin found him unrepentant, telling them to "piss off" and insisting "Sorry I cannae help you, know what I mean. As I say, I've never met her, you know what I mean, I've never ever."

Vicky's sister, Lindsay Brown, said her family was relieved the 17-year nightmare was over. "We are hoping we can now move on as a family and start to remember Vicky as the loving sister she was before she was so tragically and cruelly taken from us."

Last night, Tobin's ex-wife Margaret described how he had put his victims "under a spell" by appearing to be gentlemanly. "He was a well-dressed guy in a suit, well mannered, took out a chair for me, bought us the drinks. He had a car, which was great back then with the lift back home. I thought this is it, this is grand."

She recalled how Tobin had forced her to marry him and had then violently raped her after they had an argument about their pet puppy.

Speaking about his victims, she said: "I think they've just been put under a spell like I was and there's absolutely nothing they can do.

"I feel so sorry for the parents – they've had to go through the ordeal that my parents had to go through. The only difference is that my parents got me back."

Suggested Topics
Sport
Lionel Messi pictured after reaching the final
world cup 2014
Sport
Lionel Messi and Thomas Muller have shone brightest for Argentina and Germany respectively on their way to the World Cup final
Sport
Brazilian fans watch the match for third place between Brazil and Netherlands
Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: Dutch pile on the misery in third place playoff
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?