Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Colin Ireland

The Story

By this time Ireland was becoming frustrated, because he had killed three times and the publicity he craved wasn't on the scale that he had anticipated. The police hadn't even realised a serial killer was operating. So it was just three days later, on 7 June, that Ireland struck again. The small time gap between murders is unusual among serial killers, but Ireland was no usual sort of serial killer. His motive was fame, not sexual satisfaction. In this sense, he wasn't so much a serial killer as a lethal parody of one.

His MO was, by now, firmly established. He met 33-year-old Andrew Collier, a warden at a sheltered housing complex in Dalston, in the Coleherne, and they soon left to go back to Collier's flat in Dalston. Collier, like the others, soon consented to being handcuffed and tied to his bed. Ireland later told police, "By this time I was reaching the point where I was just accelerating. It was just speeding up, getting far worse, it wasn't making me angry, it was just like a roller coaster effect." With Collier bound and helpless Ireland demanded his PIN number and cash-cards. When he refused to surrender them Ireland strangled him with a noose.

After Collier's murder, Ireland began to look through his effects, in an attempt to find his PIN number. Once again he was to discover that his victim was HIV-positive. Suddenly, it felt to Ireland as if the tables had been turned: "That annoyed me. I was the killer and he had Aids.... he didn't tell me about this, he didn't warn me - could have been me in five years... I went fucking crazy."

To vent his fury, Nutting told the court, "He [Ireland] burnt various parts of the body and, as Mr Collier told him he was very fond of his cat, he decided to kill the cat as well." He strangled the cat and then laid it across Collier's chest, placing the cat's mouth around Collier's penis - which he had encased in a condom - then placed the cat's tail - also in a condom - in Collier's mouth. He did it, he told police, partly through anger, and partly to "increase" the "thrill of killing," and to leave Collier "no dignity in death." He told police:

"I wanted to know how you would react when you came across that scene. You're not thinking normally when you do something like this. But it was almost like a signature - to almost let you know I'd been there. I was reaching that point - you know where you feel you have to set up a stage each time."

The body of the dead cat reminds us of those other objects — the doll and the teddy bears — that were characteristic of Ireland's signature: deranged and defiled images of childhood loves, placed with unbearable poignancy on the death bed of the victim, symbolic suggestions of lost innocence. He left when the streets began to get busy, taking with him a mug he had used and £70 he had found.

At last two of the murders were linked: those of Andrew Collier and Peter Walker. The scenes were so similar, the strange signature with the condoms so distinctive, that it had to be the work of the same man. Was there a serial killer at work? Police from different areas of London began immediately to collate information on similar murders that had occurred in the London area. They also had another lead. As careful as Ireland had tried to be, it was inevitable that he would make a mistake sooner or later. Shortly after he and Collier had returned to Collier's flat they both, on hearing a noise outside, had gone to the window to look out. When Ireland was clearing up he forgot that he had touched the window-frame, and his fingerprints were left there.

On 12 June Ireland called the Kensington police and claimed that he had killed all four men, and that they had to stop him. He also called the Battersea police and asked them: "Are you still interested in the death of Peter Walker? Why have you stopped the investigation? Doesn't the death of a homosexual man mean anything? I will do another. I have always dreamed of doing the perfect murder."

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