Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Colin Ireland

The Story

Central Criminal Courts, Old Bailey (AP)
Central Criminal Courts, Old Bailey

Ireland's barrister, Andrew Trollope, QC, told the court that he could offer no mitigation for "this series of truly dreadful crimes"; two psychiatrists pronounced Ireland completely sane, and Ireland himself was under no delusion that he would ever be released from prison. He emphasised to the court that Ireland had a good side - he worked with the homeless and with children, and had looked after his disabled ex-wife - and offered as a reason for the crimes that: "He was unable to stop himself killing - he was under a form of compulsion. He was not in control."

Mr Justice Sachs told Ireland,

"By any standards you are an exceptionally frightening and dangerous man. In cold blood and with great deliberation you have killed five of your fellow human beings. You killed them in grotesque and cruel fashion. The fear, brutality and indignity to which you subjected your victims are almost unspeakable. To take one human life is an outrage, to take five is carnage. You expressed the desire to be regarded as a serial killer. That must be matched by your detention for life."

A friend of his later remarked that Ireland was approaching the age of forty and felt he had achieved nothing in his life. He wanted to be somebody, to be famous. In addition to these feelings of inadequacy and the desire for recognition, Ireland had also been harbouring a deep hatred inside himself. What Ireland calls "extreme male deviants," had disgusted him ever since his childhood brushes with paedophiles. After his experience of 'Playland,' his hatred had grown so intense that he resolved to himself that at some point in his life he would kill such a man.

As an adult Ireland realised that paedophiles that target boys are not necessarily homosexual. Therefore, gay men per se did not disgust him. He says that, "My anger is not triggered by the behaviour of the conventional gay man, it's triggered by male deviancy. I do not regard the two as the same. The men I preyed on were deviants who happened to be gay." The common "deviant" factor that his victims shared was their interest in sado-masochism. Although Ireland was unable to articulate exactly why such behaviour is abhorrent to him, it is likely that he identified the sado-masochist's desire to give and to receive pain (within a relationship where one partner is dominant and the other submissive) with the pattern of behaviour with which he had come into contact as a child. In his mind the homosexual man who indulged in sado-masochism became akin to the paedophile that has a similar 'relationship' with his victim: both are relationships of power and acquiescence.

Another factor that added fuel to his hatred was the discovery that some of these men used "rent boys, some of whom were very young. One way or another they would arrive on the 'scene,' some gay, some not, and within a short time be rendered a physical and mental mess. Two of my victims were known to have used rent boys." Ireland was aware that the sexual activity between a "rent boy" and his client is consensual — as it is in an S&M relationship — what he was responding to was the destruction of innocence, a theme which is evident in his crimes in the strategic placing of the teddy bears, the doll, and the cat.

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