Tuesday 19 November 2019

Canal butcher may have killed three other women, say police

Dean Gray in London

BRITISH police now believe at least three more missing women could have been slain by sadistic killer John Sweeney, who was yesterday convicted of murdering two former girlfriends.

Carpenter Sweeney cut up the bodies of Melissa Halstead and Paula Fields and threw their remains into canals in England and Holland.

But detectives investigating the gruesome murders in both countries now fear other former lovers may have met the same fate.

Yesterday, the Old Bailey heard how the cold-blooded killer would boast of his woman-hating attacks, depicting them in paintings and in verse.

In one picture showing a bloody axe, he called himself the Scalp Hunter. In a poem he said he had fed Ms Halstead to the fish.

Some 300 paintings, wooden sculptures and poems were found at his home when he was arrested while on the run in 2001.

And similar works were found in his prison cell at Gartree Prison when he was arrested for murder last year.

Liverpool-born Sweeney (54) was found guilty of murdering Ms Halstead and Ms Fields, and perverting justice.

He will be sentenced today after refusing to leave the cells yesterday.

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

Ms Balmer said he kept her prisoner in her flat and left her scarred for life after she received life-threatening injuries.

She said: "He had the axe above his head ready to finish me off. Then the man next door came out and risked his life. I had just curled up ready to go."

Former model Ms 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.

She had started a relationship with Sweeney, who followed her to Vienna where he attacked her, and then to Holland where he killed her.

Her sister, Chance O'Hara, said: "She told me, if she ever went missing, that John Sweeney would have killed her. He had threatened that he would kill her and he would make sure no one would ever find her body."


Sweeney wrote on the back of a scratchcard: "Poor old Melissa, chopped her up in bits, food to feed the fish, Amsterdam was the pits."

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.

The Liverpool-born young mother had arrived in London 14 months earlier and fell into prostitution to support a drug habit.

She was last seen at Sweeney's north London flat a few weeks before her death.

Now detectives want to know what happened to three other former girlfriends who have not been seen for many years.

A trainee nurse called Sue from Derbyshire was said to have gone to Switzerland in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

And they are also trying to trace two South American former girlfriends of Sweeney who have not been seen since the late 1990s.

Little is known about them, except that one was a Brazilian woman known as Irani while the other was a Colombian called Maria.

Irish Independent

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