Tobin in court to face murder charge for second time

Peter Tobin, a convicted murderer, paedophile and rapist, killed and buried the body of a teenage girl in his back garden, a court heard yesterday.

Tobin, 63, from Johnstone Renfrewshire, is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of 15-year-old Vicky Hamilton in February 1991. He now stands accused of killing 18-year-old A-level student Dinah McNicol, after she accepted a lift from him as she hitchhiked home from a music festival in Liphook, Hampshire, in August 1991.

The jury at Chelmsford Crown Court heard that Ms McNicol, from Tillingham, near Chelmsford, had not been seen or heard from after being picked up with a male friend on the A3, by a man travelling alone. Her friend, David Tremlett was dropped off at Junction 8 of the M25. Ms McNicol remained in the car, and no one who knew her ever saw her alive again.

Opening the prosecution case, William Clegg, said: "We will seek to prove that the driver was in fact this defendant and that he not only abducted Dinah but murdered her."

Ms McNicol remained missing for 16 years until police suspected Tobin's involvement and ordered a search of his three bedroom house in Margate, Kent, his home at the time of her disappearance.

Forensic scientists discovered two plastic sacks buried in the garden, containing parts of a girl's body. This was not the body of Ms McNicol, but that of Ms Hamilton, who had disappeared from the Bathgate area of Edinburgh after going to visit her sister.

The police continued to search the garden and a second body, that of Ms McNicol, was discovered, also wrapped in a plastic sack.

Tobin has already been convicted of the murder of Vicky Hamilton by a court in Scotland, and Mr Clegg told the jury that it was the prosecution's submission that the two cases bore remarkable similarities.

The court heard that Tobin's fingerprints were on the sack containing Ms McNicol's body and that there were a number of other similarities, which linked both cases. The bodies showed traces of amitriptyline in both cases, a psychoactive drug which might be used to make a victim drowsy.

The court were also told that Tobin had been convicted in 1994 for the rape and indecent assault of two 14-year-old schoolgirls, in which he had also used the drug.

Mr Clegg told the jury: "The prosecution submit that this evidence is highly probative of his guilt in this case as it demonstrates a propensity to abduct young girls, administer the drug amitripltyline to them, murder them and bury their bodies in rubbish sacks. There cannot be many people in this world who share those propensities."

It is the second time Tobin has been tried for the murder. The previous trial earlier this year was halted when Tobin was taken ill. He denies murdering Ms McNicol.

Members of Ms McNicol's family, including her father Ian, 70, sat just yards from Tobin, and listened to the evidence. The jury heard how a post-mortem examination on Ms McNicol's body showed that she had probably died from strangulation and gagging, before her burial, Mr Clegg said.

The jury were told how at the time of Ms McNicol's disappearance, Tobin was a regular user of the road on which she had been hitchhiking.

Tobin would drive from Margate to collect his son at weekends from his estranged wife's home in Portsmouth, Hampshire, almost certainly past the spot where Ms McNicol and Mr Tremlett were picked up.

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