Fears for Scots woman linked to suspect

FEARS are growing for the safety of a Scottish woman who was last seen with the prime suspect in the "bodies-in-bin-bags" murder case.

Kelly Anne Nicol, 24, from Falkirk, has not been seen since Boxing Day, when she was spotted with Anthony Hardy, the suspected killer of two women whose dismembered bodies were dumped in bins in Camden, London. A nationwide hunt has been launched for Hardy, who has a history of psychiatric problems, after a torso was found at his flat.

Ms Nicol was seen with a man believed to be Hardy, 53, on 26 December and has not been seen since. She uses a number of aliases, including Kelly Anne Shaw, and is thought to have been living in a hostel close to Hardy’s flat.

Police have established Ms Nicol is not one of the victims found so far because she has distinctive tattoos which were not identified on the recovered body parts.

Andy Baker, a Metropolitan Police area commander, said: "We obviously fear for her safety. If she is out there, please come forward because we need to make sure she is safe."

It has emerged a man believed to be Hardy spent four hours in a London hospital on New Year’s Day trying to get medication for his diabetes. He has shaved off his beard since police released his picture and appealed for him to come forward.

Hospital staff told police that Hardy, a former alcoholic, smelled of drink. They did not recognise him, although he gave his own name. He left the hospital without receiving any medication after staff tried to talk to him about finding him a place in a hostel.

Police divers were yesterday searching Regent’s Canal, close to where a tramp foraging for food found the body parts of both victims at the back of a pub close to Hardy’s ground-floor council flat, in Royal College Street, Camden. The man took the parts - two sections of the legs of a woman in her thirties - to the nearby National Hospital for Tropical Diseases, where staff called in police. Officers then searched the bin and found the torso of a younger woman also wrapped in bin liners.

Later, officers sifting through rubbish in the area found seven or eight carrier bags in a wheelie bin thought to contain human remains. They searched Hardy’s flat and found a second torso and a hacksaw.

The body parts discovered so far belong to two white women, one thought to be in her thirties and the other in her late teens or early twenties, who are believed to have been killed within the last week.

Neither of the victims have been identified, but police do not think they are related. The heads, hands and some limbs of the victims are still missing.

Police are now considering that the women may have been prostitutes and are checking all recent missing-persons reports amid fears there could be other victims.

They are examining the "similarities" between the murders and those of two London prostitutes.

Paula Fields’s headless and limbless body was found in Regent’s Canal last year, and the torso of Zoe Parker, 24, was pulled out of the River Thames, in central London, 11 days after she disappeared in December 2000.

Last January, the body of Rose White, 38, a prostitute, was discovered in Hardy’s flat but a police investigation ended after a post-mortem examination found she had died of a heart attack.

Hardy’s flat is close to King’s Cross, where prostitutes are known to work. Contact magazines were also found. Neighbours described the suspect as a loner and said there were painted crosses on the walls in his flat.

Sebastian Boys, 21, who lives above Hardy, said he and his girlfriend heard "a lot of drilling coming from the floor below at all hours of the day".

He added: "We were wondering what was going on down there. It definitely sounded like a drill. That was the first time we had ever heard noises like that."

Hardy had not been seen in the last couple of days and was not in the flat when police entered it. He is believed to have lived in London for some time and his relatives have been contacted, but say they have not seen him.

There were no signs of a violent struggle in the flat and officers are keeping an open mind about where the murders might have taken place.

Hardy spent four hours at University College Hospital, London, where he tried to get medication for his diabetic condition, police said.

CCTV footage shows him going into the hospital at 5:57pm, wearing a black baseball cap and black leather jacket and carrying a brown bag.

Detective Chief Inspector Ken Bell said: "He left the hospital without receiving any medication. He used his real name. The hospital staff became worried about him and his condition. When staff tried to talk to him about putting him in a hostel, he got panicky and left."

Detectives, who believe Hardy is probably still in London, talked to hospital psychiatrists about his mental state. He suffers from a condition called peripheral neuropathy, which can make him depressed.

Police are investigating whether his diabetic condition could cause him to slip into a coma if he does not receive medication.

It emerged that Hardy had been married and lived in Australia with his wife with whom he had four children, two girls and two boys.

He moved back to England after the marriage broke down more than ten years ago, and no longer has any contact with his family, who are thought to live in Tasmania. Hardy is originally from the Midlands.

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