The man who helped put World’s End serial killer Angus Sinclair behind bars has said the notorious criminal was “certainly” responsible for at least three other murders.
Tom Wood, the former Lothian and Borders deputy chief constable who led the World’s End investigation from 2004 to 2007, made the declaration after Sinclair, 73, died at Glenochil Prison in Clackmannanshire yesterday morning following a long illness. Sinclair raped and murdered teenagers Christine Eadie and Helen Scott in 1977 after meeting them at the World’s End pub in Edinburgh.
He was sentenced to at least 37 years in prison in 2014 following one of the most historic criminal cases the Capital has seen. It is the longest minimum sentence ever imposed in Scotland, on a man judge Lord Matthews called “a dangerous predator who is capable of sinking to the depths of depravity”.
It had taken the passing of a generation and a change to Scotland’s double jeopardy law before the killer was brought to justice for those two deaths.
His criminal record contains convictions for the murders of four women and young girls, but detectives believe he was responsible for more unsolved brutal killings.
Mr Wood said he believed Sinclair, who had only been at liberty for around 15 years of his adult life, was responsible for the deaths of Anna Kenny, 20, in Glasgow in August 1977; Hilda McAulay, 36, in Glasgow in October 1977, and Agnes Cooney, 23, in Lanarkshire in December 1977.
The three women had all been killed and dumped in strikingly similar circumstances to Sinclair’s Edinburgh victims. Mr Wood told the Evening News Sinclair “certainly murdered” the trio and left their heartbroken families “bereft and without justice”.
Mr Wood said: “By any measure he was one of the, if not the, most violent sexual predators that disgraced the face of Scotland in the past 100 years.
“All these girls were at the start of their lives – young and full of promise. Who knows what potential was snuffed out by the predatory lust of Angus Sinclair.
“We should be thinking of these girls and young women today, not wasting our thoughts on such a wicked man as Angus Robertson Sinclair – other than to commit to do all we can to ensure that there will never be another like him.”
If he had been prosecuted for the additional three murders, Sinclair would have sat alongside Scotland’s most prolific serial killer Peter Manuel, who was responsible for the gruesome murders of seven people.
Sinclair’s prosecution came 37 years and 30 days after the 17-year-olds were last seen leaving the World’s End pub on October 15, 1977. Their bodies were discovered the following day in East Lothian. Both had been bound and strangled with their own underwear.
Sinclair carried out the attacks with his brother-in-law, Gordon Hamilton, who died in 1996. The collapse of the 2007 trial after Sinclair’s defence team argued the prosecution had failed to present enough evidence to convict him created shockwaves throughout the legal establishment and left Christine and Helen’s relatives devastated.
It led to the rewriting of Scotland’s centuries-old double jeopardy law, which until then had prevented a person being tried twice for the same crime. The law now allows a retrial to take place if it meets certain criteria, among them the production of fresh evidence.
The key to finally securing Sinclair’s guilt was in the form of an LED torch. The torch was used to shine on Helen’s coat and the knotted tights used to bind hands, directing forensic scientists towards areas to check which otherwise they could never have spotted.
In the case of the World’s End murders, it would reveal evidence that would prove impossible for a jury to ignore. Sinclair and Hamilton’s DNA was, it turned out, splattered virtually everywhere.
The new evidence allowed prosecutors to bring Sinclair to trial again following his acquittal in 2007. A jury of nine women and six men took less than two-and-a-half hours to convict him unanimously of both charges.
Sinclair had denied the charges against him. He claimed he first had consensual sex with Christine and then Helen in his caravanette in Holyrood Park, and that Hamilton had sex with both girls in the opposite order. He alleged that Hamilton then drove him back to East Lothian so he could continue fishing and that when he left, the girls were “alive and unharmed”.
But, over the 24-day trial – much of it consisting of new evidence from forensic scientists – Sinclair’s story began to unravel. DNA analysis showed Sinclair had touched “most, if not all” of the ligatures used to tie the girls up.
In reaction to Sinclair’s death, Kevin Scott, 52, the brother of Helen, told Sky News: “I understand Sinclair’s health has been in decline for some time. For the barbaric way that he stole the lives of Helen and Christine, there is a part of me that would have wanted to see him live to be punished and serve the 37 years handed down. He wasn’t strong enough for that. Some may say it was the easy option.
“With the announcement of his death I feel for all the victims and families that Sinclair may have impacted on throughout his violent life.”