Musician was obsessed with serial killers before murdering teenager, court hears

Cody Ackland, 24, who was a guitarist with local indie band Rakuda, was leading a double life and had a secret morbid fascination with serial killers

Tess de La Mare
Thursday 19 May 2022 12:27
Murder victim Bobbi-Anne McLeod (Devon and Cornwall Police)
Murder victim Bobbi-Anne McLeod (Devon and Cornwall Police)

A musician obsessed with serial killers was acting out his warped fantasies when he brutally murdered a teenage girl, a court heard.

Cody Ackland, 24, who was a guitarist with local indie band Rakuda, was leading a double life and had a secret morbid fascination with serial killers, particular US murderer Ted Bundy.

The car valet was unknown to the police when he bludgeoned 18-year-old Bobbi-Anne McLeod with a claw hammer.

Plymouth Crown Court heard Ackland attacked her as she waited for a bus in Plymouth in November last year.

Cody Ackland is facing a life sentence after admitting murdering the teenager (Devon and Cornwall Police/PA)

He then loaded the semi-conscious teenager into the footwell of his Ford Fiesta and drove her 20 miles to the Bellever Forest car park on Dartmoor where he killed her with a hammer.

Ackland burnt her handbag and loaded her blooded body into his boot and drove 30 miles back towards Plymouth to Bovisand where he stripped her naked and left her in undergrowth.

He later threw away her clothes in an allotment before spending the next 48 hours socialising with friends.

Three days later, Ackland turned himself in and confessed, telling detectives where he had dumped her body.

At a previous hearing, Ackland, of Radcliffe Close, Southway, Plymouth pleaded guilty to murder.

Cody Ackland first appeared at Plymouth Magistrates’ Court last November accused of the teenager’s murder (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Richard Posner, prosecuting, told the court Ackland was leading “a double life” and harboured a fascination with serial killers in the UK, Australia, US and Russia.

Mr Posner said Ackland had conducted extensive searches about “their crimes, the aftermath of such crimes, and the bodies left behind in days leading up to Bobbi-Anne (McLeod’s) death”.

He said he had also been searching the web pages of DIY stores for “hammers, crowbars and cutting tools”.

“Cody Ackland led a double life. When he left home on November 20 and drove through Leigham in Plymouth towards the bus stop where Bobbi-Anne was,” the prosecutor said.

“He held such an unhealthy fascination and desire to imitate serial killers. His fascination was to become an unimaneagable wicked reality for Bobbi-Anne.”

A woman lays flowers on Sheepstor Road in Plymouth (Ben Birchall/PA)

At 5.45pm on November 20, Miss McLeod left her home in Leigham to meet her boyfriend and walked to the nearby bus stop on Bampton Road, where she was last seen alive at 6.15pm.

By 7.15pm, the teenager’s family were starting to worry and a member of the public found her abandoned mobile phone and Apple AirPod case in the bus stop.

The teenager’s boyfriend contacted her family at 9pm asking where she was, and they immediately went out looking for her and appealing on social media.

Devon and Cornwall Police launched a missing person inquiry.

On Tuesday at lunchtime, he left work to walk to a police station to confess to murdering Miss McLeod.

He asked for a map and directed detectives to Bovisand – where police found her body hours later.

Forensic evidence and phone data corroborated Ackland’s story, the court heard.

Crime scene investigators located the clothes at the allotments and his blood-stained trainers were found in his wardrobe. Miss McLeod’s blood was found in and around his car.

The court heard that police found a trove of over 3,000 dark and disturbing images on Ackland’s phone.

Many of them were of the mutilated bodies of murder victims, as well as murder weapons, soiled and bloodied clothing, and the sites where victims were found.

Ackland’s attack on Miss McLeod bore a striking resemblance to 1970s American serial killer Bundy’s modus operandi, in that he approached her from behind and struck her with the hammer before kidnapping her.

Rakuda, who released their first EP in August last year, announced in November they would disband “with immediate effect”, but weeks later said they would be taking a “short hiatus from the music scene” with a view to reforming in the spring of 2022.

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