A crime scene investigator who helped police apprehend serial killer Peter Tobin has opened up about the killer’s attempts to cover up his crimes for the first time – with a giant rock garden.
Peter Faulding, one of the world’s leading forensic search experts, was brought in by detectives to tear down Tobin’s old West Lothian home after they discovered he was living in the area when Vicky Hamilton disappeared in February 1991.
But it was a suspiciously large rock garden that led them to the pit where the body of 15-year-old Vicky had been buried before being moved by Tobin when he moved years later.
Lifting the lid on the evil Tobin’s crimes, Peter said: “We had already torn up the garden and discovered signs that the ground had been churned up under a huge rock garden in the back garden and that raised the possibility for us that we had something in it would find
Peter, who has worked on dozens of high-profile murders including the ‘spy in a sack’ death of MI6 agent Gareth Williams, said they did not know at the time they were on the verge of catching one of Scotland’s most notorious serial killers.
Vicky disappeared from a bus stop in Bathgate after spending a weekend with her sister in Livingston.
It was the first time the 15-year-old had made the journey back to her mother’s home in Redding, Stirlingshire, alone.
75-year-old Tobin was eventually convicted of her murder in 2008 after an investigation that led to the discovery of Vicky’s body in a
Garden in Margate, Kent.
The body of 18-year-old Dinah McNicol was also found there.
Peter said: “Tobin was accused of killing Angelika Kluk in Glasgow in September 2006 and during that investigation, Operation Anagram, it was discovered that Tobin had in fact been living in a house in Robertson Avenue, Bathgate, when Vicky disappeared.
“The investigators had made a picture of Tobin’s life. Meanwhile, in the spring of 2006, Lothian and Borders Police had set up an investigation into a cold case called Operation Mahogany.
Peter continued: “Once they saw the connection to Tobin, they gave Lothian and Borders the breakthrough they needed to search Robertson Avenue and I was involved in that.
“We spent a week tearing apart the garden and the house. At the time, we didn’t realize the importance of it all. We were just doing our job but we knew the police had to keep their interest in Tobin a secret for fear of prejudicing the Glasgow case.
“They already had a DNA link to Vicky’s handbag that matched Tobin’s son, so the Bathgate house was an area of great interest.”
Peter, a former Parachute Regiment reservist, launched with a team from his company, Specialist Group International (SGI), with their cutting-edge technology.
He said: “We didn’t know much about Peter Tobin at the time. Our brief was to go inside and dissect the house, hoping to find evidence that Vicky Hamilton had been there and might still be there.
“The first thing that caught my eye was the huge rock garden in the back garden. It was an unusual feature. We removed it and the police brought in the cadaver dogs.
Twice they responded to the ground under the rock garden.
“Our radar had shown that the ground had been disturbed. We dug up the whole garden and figured Vicky lay underneath for a few months before she was moved.”
Next, the team moved in and began systematically tearing apart each room.
He said: “Our radar also picked up interference under the kitchen floor so this was ripped open but it turned out to be natural subsidence.
“When we got to the attic there were several old Tobin’s things that had been there for 16 years.
“We discovered a knife in the middle of the insulation and a corner of the attic. It had either fallen off or been placed between an end joist next to a supporting wall in a gap about 6 cm wide and 20 cm deep.
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“It was sent for analysis and came back fairly quickly that there was traces of Vicky’s tissue on it. We were excited because that connected Tobin to Vicky.
“It was really a eureka moment because we felt like we were on the verge of finding out what happened to Vicky. Her body was found 500 miles away just a few months later.”
Peter, who specializes in non-corpse murder investigations, was sent to search another of Tobin’s homes, this time in Portsmouth.
He said: “It was just one room in a shared house but we had to take it off again and comb through every inch of it. I think at that point we realized that we had just apprehended a serial killer.
“We found nothing of significance at Portsmouth but I have no doubt there are many more of Peter Tobin’s victims buried in hidden places. Its MO [modus operandi] is clear to bury and hide its victims.
“He may look like a frail old man, but he is a dangerous predator that has caused so many people to suffer. I have nothing but hatred for the pain he caused.”
● Peter Faulding will be appearing at CrimeCon UK in London on June 11th and 12th to talk about his career. Tickets can be purchased at crimeconuk.seetickets.com/tour/crimecon-uk
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