THE senior detective whose operation led to serial killer Peter Tobin being sentenced to life imprisonment for three brutal murders of young women said the full truth of his reign of terror may yet come out following his death.

Serial killer Tobin died at the age of 76 early on Saturday October 8 while serving a whole life order at HM Prison Edinburgh for the murders of Angelika Kluk, Vicky Hamilton and Dinah McNicol over a 25 year period.

In September 2006, Tobin brutally raped and murdered 23-year-old Polish student Angelika Kluk in a Glasgow church before hiding her body in a storage area under the floor. Given his years of experience with the then Strathclyde Police, former Detective Superintendent David Swindle had more than just a hunch that Tobin may have killed before and sadly that proved to be right.

Read more: Peter Tobin dies after falling ill in prison

As news of the serial killer’s death emerged, Mr Swindle says it is the victims and families who should be remembered.


Police outside St Patricks church in Anderston, Glasgow where the body of the missing Polish woman, Angelika Kluk was found

Police outside St Patrick's church in Anderston, Glasgow where the body of the missing Polish woman, Angelika Kluk was found


“We must never forget the families who have been ripped apart, the years of not knowing what had happened to their loved ones and the victims themselves should be in our thoughts,” the retired detective said.

“Tobin preyed on vulnerable people, he frequented churches, stayed in hostels and targeted people whose disappearance might not have been noticed. He killed and then moved the bodies - that was his mode of operandi. At one point he is supposed to have said he killed 48 people. We don’t know that - it could be eight, 48, or 148. He has never admitted to the three murders he was convicted of so there could have been more. He was linked to other cases, some of which no connection has been found, but there could still be a chance to resolve cases now he has gone. You always hope something will come up.

“I remember being asked why bother continuing to investigate as he was in prison. If they lost a loved one wouldn’t they want the police to do their best?”


Peter Tobins victims - Angelika Kluk, Vicky Hamilton and Dinah McNicol. Photo credit: PA

Peter Tobin's victims - Angelika Kluk, Vicky Hamilton and Dinah McNicol. Photo credit: PA


Reflecting on the case, Mr Swindle recalled police spoke to Tobin, who was passing himself off as handyman Pat McLaughlin, as part of the initial investigation in 2006 not realising his true identity or offending history.

Odd job man

TOBIN had been introduced to St Patrick’s Church in Anderston through the Loaves and Fishes street charity, which helped homeless people. He had volunteered to carry out some odd jobs and told volunteers he had been married and had three grown-up children.

A few days after Ms Kluk’s disappearance detectives issued a photograph of Pat McLaughlin who had vanished when it became clear he was one of the last two people to see her alive.

Such was the nationwide nature of the appeal, that someone came forward to say this wasn’t Pat McLaughlin but that he was Peter Tobin and it emerged he was a missing sex offender.


Detective superintendent David Swindle speaking at a police press conference in 2006 about Angelika Kluk

Detective superintendent David Swindle speaking at a police press conference in 2006 about Angelika Kluk


At that point the investigation entered an entirely different scale and senior investigating officer Mr Swindle was brought in to lead the investigation into Ms Kluk’s disappearance and the hunt for Tobin.

“We had to look at the church again. It had been searched, but it was a place of worship and there wasn’t a full search the first time around. With the link to a convicted, missing sex offender and the case, that’s when I decided to order a second more detailed search of the church. We brought in a specialist team and Angelika was found within hours,” Mr Swindle said.

It was the Friday of that week that Ms Kluk’s body was found hidden below a small wooden hatch in the floor of the church, close to the confessional. Her hands were tied and she was covered by a tarpaulin.

“When the body was found it was covered and at that point we didn’t know if it was Angelika or someone else and there was still an element of hope that it wasn’t her,” added Mr Swindle. “We realised there was two people who had seen her last - George the golfer, who turned out to be Sheriff Kieran McLernan and Tobin who had seen her with this man. McLernan was ruled out which put just one man in the frame and where was he?” Mr Swindle added.

Catching a killer

HER body had been placed under floorboards and blood-stained clothes left at the scene which Mr Swindle believed was indication that Tobin had intended to move her, however if that had been the case – would Tobin ever have been caught? Would it have meant the crime could have gone undetected leaving him free to strike again?

“As the judge described it at the trial, she was left as a bag of rubbish under the floorboards with blood stained clothes and the knife,” added Mr Swindle. “That was an indication that Tobin’s intention had been to take her body away. He stayed on the scene for two days and officers spoke to him when Angelika had been reported missing. He admitted he had seen her the night before and that she had been his ‘little apprentice in the garage.’

“However, with the mounting police investigation, Tobin then fled to London and admitted himself to hospital under a false name and feigned an illness. As we were to later learn a pattern emerged after he committed a crime - he would move on and admit himself to hospital.”

Tobin was identified in a London hospital and brought back to Scotland where he appeared in court in Paisley, but at this stage not for murder.

When Tobin was arrested his clothing had stains linking him to Ms Kluk’s murder. DNA found on the victim’s body and fingerprints on the tarpaulin were also a positive match for him.He was then charged with her murder and convicted at the High Court in Edinburgh in May 2017.

It was after Tobin was charged with Ms Kluk’s murder, that Mr Swindle set up Operation Anagram to look into the life of Tobin.


Vicky Hamilton vanished in 1991

Vicky Hamilton vanished in 1991


Operation Anagram helped piece together a timeline of Tobin’s movements and relationships over decades in a bid to determine whether he was responsible for other unsolved crimes. It uncovered connections and timelines which helped convict him of the murders of 18-year-old Dinah McNicol, from Essex, and 15-year-old Vicky Hamilton, from Falkirk. Their bodies were found in the garden of Tobin’s former home in Margate, Kent, and he was convicted of their murders at a later trial.

Mr Swindle believes that now as the killer can no longer hold any psychological control over victims who may never have come forward or family members too scared to speak out, there is the potential people may now come forward.

The evil within

THE last images showed Tobin lying handcuffed to a prison hospital bed, but what might have looked like the end of days for a weak man, Mr Swindle said the killer’s eyes remained – the evil that lay behind them. “Pictures may indicate a frail old man, but he tortured, raped and horrifically killed three young victims that we know about. His victims should never be forgotten,” he added.


David Swindle led Operation Anagram which led to the discovery of to more murders

David Swindle led Operation Anagram which led to the discovery of to more murders


Mr Swindle, who now uses his expertise through his Victims Abroad project which helps families of those who have lost loved ones abroad, said he could never have believed the momentum and magnitude the operation would have developed into.

He said: “The public response and assistance from the media was unbelievable. The long-running investigation brought some solace to the families of Vicky Hamilton and Dinah McNicol in knowing what happened to their loved ones.”

Operation Anagram went nationwide and through the HOLMES 2 database, police forces across the UK were involved in the operation, investigating the possibility of Tobin’s connection to dozens of murders and disappearances of teenage girls and young women.

Tobin was in his 60s when he was first caught for murder but the pattern of moving around the UK so often and the method of the murder, led the team to suspect him of more crimes. Prior to his first murder conviction, Tobin served ten years in prison for a double rape committed in 1993, following which he was released in 2004.

He was labelled a psychopath by a senior psychologist and it was thought he might be connected with the Bible John murders of the late 1960s in Glasgow, although police eventually ruled him out of the murders.

3,000 documents

AS a result of Anagram at one point, detectives across the UK were following up on up to 1,400 lines of inquiry generating 3000 documents and 6000 lines of inquiry.

Bank accounts were traced and police discovered the killer had owned about 120 cars. Tobin had used almost 40 aliases and dozens of mobile phones. During their renewed inquiries, police were especially interested in tracing the owners of jewellery items found at his residences.

In July 2010, officers working on Operation Anagram had narrowed their review down to several unsolved cases.

“I'm proud of what we did with Operation Anagram,” says Mr Swindle. “We gave two families some sort of closure. It is sad we never found out the rest of the cases, but maybe some day we will.”