London: “Terrible & Wicked” Double Canal Killer John Sweeney Will Die In Prison

5 Apr

Double killer John Sweeney has been given a “whole life” sentence for murdering two girlfriends and throwing their chopped up bodies into canals.

Canal Killer Sweeney Will Die In Prison Enlarge photo

Sweeney, 54, refused to leave prison to attend the Old Bailey where the judge condemned his crimes as “terrible and wicked”.

He is suspected of killiing at least three other women and two men.

The carpenter was convicted of murdering American ex-model Melissa Halstead, 33, whose remains were found in a Rotterdam canal in 1990.

He was also found guilty of murdering prostitute Paula Fields, 31, whose chopped up body was hooked by boys fishing in Regent’s canal in North London in 2001.

Neither victims’ head or feet have ever been recovered.

Sweeney boasted of his violence in lurid paintings and verse found at his home – and in one picture, showing a bloody axe, he called himself the Scalp Hunter.

Judge Mr Justice Saunders said: “The mutilation of the bodies is a serious aggravating feature of the murders.

“Not only does it reveal the cold-blooded nature of the killer, but it has added greatly to the distress of the families to know that parts of the bodies of their loved ones have never been recovered.”

Some of the jury who convicted Sweeney were back in court to hear the sentence.

Judge Saunders added: “Why the killings occured I cannot be sure, but I am satisfied that this defendant is controlling in his relationships with women and chillingly, that

control extends to deciding whether they should live or die.”

Detective Chief Inspector Howard Groves of the Metropolitan Police, joint leader of the investigation, said: “Melissa Halstead and Paula Fields were killed and their bodies disposed of in the most callous and undignified manner possible.

“I would like to thank the families of Paula and Melissa for their patience and dignity throughout the years and hope that these convictions will enable them to finally close a chapter in their lives knowing that justice has finally been served.

“Sweeney had convinced himself that he would never be caught for these heinous crimes.

“However he underestimated the resolve of officers from the Met’s Specialist Crime Directorate, the Rotterdam Cold Case Team, prosecutors in the UK and Holland and the witnesses from across Europe who gave evidence during the trial.

“And as he contemplates a life behind bars, I can assure him that this investigation will continue as we seek to identify and trace other potential victims in the UK, Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe, who may have suffered a similar fate to that of Melissa and Paula.”

NEWS UPDATE:

A double killer who called himself the Scalp Hunter has been told that he will die in jail after being convicted of butchering two women and dumping them in canals.

John Sweeney, 54, was given a whole-life tariff at the Old Bailey for the murders of former girlfriends Paula Fields and Melissa Halstead. Their bodies were discovered a decade apart in England and Holland and police now fear three other missing women may have suffered the same fate.

Sweeney, a carpenter, boasted of his violence in lurid paintings and verse found at his home – and in one picture, showing a bloody axe, he called himself the Scalp Hunter.

Sweeney refused to come to court from his prison cell at Belmarsh Prison to be sentenced.

Mr Justice Saunders said the gravity of the offences was exceptional and only a whole-life term would do.

He said: “These were terrible, wicked crimes. The heads of the victims having been removed, it is impossible to be certain how they were killed. The mutilation of the bodies is a serious aggravating feature of the murders.

“Not only does it reveal the cold-blooded nature of the killer, but it has added greatly to the distress of the families to know that parts of the bodies of their loved ones have never been recovered.”

Sweeney was already serving four life terms imposed in 2002 for the attempted murder in 1994 of former girlfriend Delia Balmer and having four guns when he was arrested while on the run.

The body parts of Paula Fields, 31, were found in six holdalls floating in the Regent’s Canal in Camden, north London, in February 2001. Her head, hands and feet are still missing.

Former model Miss Halstead, 33, from the US, was killed in 1990. Her dismembered body was thrown into a canal in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. She was only identified 18 years later by DNA, although her head and hands have never been found.

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