BORN in Hertford, John Martin Scripps was brought up in the East End

of London.

The son of an East End lorry driver and Fleet St barmaid, he has never

yet completed a prison sentence in a long career of burglary and heroin


His criminal career began when he was sentenced in 1982 to three

years' imprisonment on 40 counts of burglary. He absconded while on home

leave from prison in the Isle of Sheppey, Kent.

When sentenced in 1985 for similar offences, he again absconded while

on home leave. Two years later, in 1987, having graduated from burglary

to heroin trafficking, he was sentenced to seven years at Southwark

Crown Court, London.

In 1990, he had yet again absconded from Camphill Prison on the Isle

of Wight, returning six months later with another stash of heroin from


Entering Britain under the name of Peter Bolah, one of his many

aliases, he managed to bluff his way out of a cell at Heathrow Airport

police station. However, he was arrested near his mother's house in

Sandown, on the Isle of Wight in November 1990.

In January 1992, he was sentenced to two six-year prison sentences for

heroin trafficking. However, he casually walked out of The Mount Prison,

Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, on October 30, 1994, free to kill and

apparently acting quite strangely.

Scripps' mother, Jean, said before going out to Singapore to attend

the trial: ''John's been in and out of jail all his life.

''Whoever he is now, he's the person the prison service trained him to


Mr Simon James Davis, 29, from Letchworth, Hertfordshire, whose birth

certificate Scripps appears to have used to obtain one of his false

passports, first met him in 1988.

''He kept himself to himself and when I knew him he didn't really get

into trouble.

''I can only think he was just desperate. He certainly wasn't looking

forward to his last sentence and he had a fair few years still to do.''

When Scripps ran, he is known to have renewed contacts in the drugs

trade, which stretch from Cali in Columbia, to Bangkok and Hong Kong.

Within one month, he had made his way to Mexico City, the home of his

ex-wife, Ms Maria Pilar Arellanos.

What happened in Mexico appeared to play a pivotal part in Scripps

worldwide killings. Scripps gave a clue after the Lowe killing when he

was drunk in Singapore's Raffles Hotel Long Bar.

He told a drinking companion: ''I have just spoken to my daughter on

the telephone. But she says her daddy is dead!'' Scripps has no

daughter, it was yet another lie.

The young girl to whom he was referring is Lara Beck Coid, nine, the

daughter of Police Constable Ken Coid, of the Royal Protection Squad.

Scripps eloped with Maria Pilar Arellanos when she was just 16.

While he was in jail, she divorced him and married Mr Coid, but she

went home to Mexico after just three years of marriage, fleeing with

their daughter, despite a court order preventing the child leaving the


Both Maria Pilar Arellanos and John Martin Scripps are known to have

been in the resort of Cancun, on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, when

Briton Timothy MacDowall disappeared in February this year.

Scripps developed an obsessive hatred for the policeman who took his

wife and according to police colleagues tried to replace Mr Coid in her


Officers of Scotland Yard's extradition and international organised

crime squad, led by Detective Chief Inspector Geoffrey Hunt, have

interviewed Ms Pilar in Mexico City. She has been of little help in

finding out what had happened to Mr Timothy MacDowall.

Meanwhile, in Mexico City, her daughter, Lara Beck has been told

nothing of the fate of one of the two men she called daddy; one the face

of law and order, the other who became the face of terror.

Scripps now whiles away the time reading. He is rationed to just one

book a week. Among the list of 10 books he has requested are the

biographies of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.