Search for two missing women as canal murderer is found guilty

Police have launched an appeal to trace three women missing since the 1990s after a man was found guilty of the murder of two women yesterday.

John Sweeney, a carpenter, is already serving four life sentences for attacking another girlfriend with an axe in 1994. Now detectives want to know what happened to an English woman and two South American former girlfriends of Sweeney.

The first woman police would like to find is a trainee nurse from the Derbyshire area called Sue, who was thought to be in her late twenties or early thirties when she moved to Switzerland in the late 70s or early 80s. She had lived and worked in the Holloway Road and Seven Sisters area of north London before possibly attending a nursing college.

Less is known about the other two women, except that one was a Brazilian known as Leani and that the other is a Colombian called Maria. Yesterday Mr Sweeney was convicted of the murders of Melissa Halstead and Paula Fields. Sentencing was postponed until today after Sweeney refused to leave the cells. He is likely to receive a further two life sentences, and be told he is too dangerous to be released from prison.

Former model Miss Halstead, 33, from the US, was killed in 1990. Her dismembered body was thrown into a canal in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. She was only identified 18 years later by DNA, although her head and hands have never been found.

The body parts of Paula Fields, 31, were found in six holdalls floating in the Regent's Canal in Camden, north London, in February 2001. Her head, hands and feet are still missing.

Liverpool-born Sweeney was arrested in March 2001, having evaded police since his 1994 attack on Delia Balmer, who was in her forties.

Police found several weapons and 300 pieces of violent artwork and poems at the north London house where he had been living. One showed a bloody axe and was entitled "Scalp Hunter". There was also a wooden carving of a pair of feet and hands. Miss Balmer, who was too traumatised to attend court, said Sweeney told her he had killed a previous girlfriend called Melissa. But it was not until last year that police had enough evidence to arrest him for the murders.

Miss Balmer said he kept her prisoner in her flat and left her scarred for life after receiving life-threatening injuries.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin