Colin Ireland (born March 16 1954) is a British serial killer known as the "Gay Slayer" because he specifically murdered gay men.
Ireland, a former soldier who had picked up convictions for burglary and robbery in his twenties, decided to become a serial killer as a New Year resolution at the beginning of 1993, when he was 39. That year, while living in Southend, he started frequenting Coleherne pub, a gay pub in west London. Ireland claimed to be heterosexual — he had been married — and that he feigned homosexuality only to lure pub patrons into his clutches. It is unknown whether Ireland's murders were sexually motivated.
Murder 1: Peter Walker
Choreographer, Peter Walker, approached Ireland and the two left the pub for Walker's flat in Battersea. After he was willingly bound and gagged by Ireland, he was subjected to a beating which Ireland administered with his fists and a dog lead. Ireland then killed him by suffocating him with a plastic bag.
Ireland thoroughly cleaned Walker's flat and disposed of any items that could lead to him. While searching through personal items, Ireland discovered his victim was HIV positive. Enraged, Ireland stuffed a condom in his mouth. Ireland stayed in the flat until the next morning and travelled home on the train with the rush hour commuters.
Ireland later rang [Samaritans to tell them where he had put Walker's dogs. He had locked them away before killing their owner.
Murder 2: Christopher Dunn
Two months later, Ireland returned to the pub to seek his next victim. He turned out to be Christopher Dunn, a librarian. Again the murder took place in the victim's flat, in Wealdstone. Dunn was wearing a body harness and had been willingly handcuffed and had his feet tied together. Ireland then beat, tortured and suffocated his victim.
Before killing Dunn, Ireland demanded the personal identification number for his bank card, and used it to take money from Dunn's account. Having meticulously studied serial killing, he knew that he had to throw away the gloves and shoes he was wearing each time he killed. As an unemployed man on benefits, Ireland needed to get the money from elsewhere.
Murder 3: Perry Bradley III
Six days later, Ireland once again picked up a man at the pub. It was Perry Bradley III, who was 35 and the son of a serving US congressman. They went to Bradley's flat in Kensington, and Ireland persuaded him to be tied up (Bradley wasn't into S&M) saying he couldn't get aroused otherwise. Once his victim was helpless, Ireland again used torture to get his bank card number. He delayed the killing until Bradley had actually fallen asleep, still trussed up, and then strangled him with a noose.
Again, Ireland carefully cleaned or removed anything in the flat which could incriminate him before leaving the next morning.
By the time Bradley's body was discovered, police had still to connect the three killings: there were time gaps between them, they were committed in three different areas with enough distance between them to cast doubt, and the police suspected that the victims died during sex games that had gone wrong.
Murder 4: Andrew Collier
Ireland, angered that he had received no publicity even after three murders, killed again within three days. At the pub he met and courted 33-year-old Andrew Collier, a housing warden, and the pair went to Collier's home in Dalston. Once he had tied up his victim on the bed, Ireland again demanded his victim's bank details. This time, however, his victim refused to comply. Ireland strangled him with a noose.
Ireland left the next morning with £70, having also killed Collier's cat in an angry reaction to finding out his victim was HIV positive while rummaging through his personal effects in an attempt to find the bank card number. Another alleged reason for killing the cat was because when Ireland killed Peter Walker and protected the dogs, by locking them in a room, the media called him an animal lover so, in order for Ireland to prove the media wrong he killed Andrew Collier’s cat and draped it over his dead body.
Ireland finally left a clue for the police: He put a condom in Collier's mouth, just as he had done to Walker, creating a visible link between the two murders.
Murder 5: Emanuel Spiteri
The fifth victim of Ireland's series (he had read that serial killers needed at least five victims to qualify as such) was Emanuel Spiteri, aged 41, a chef whom Ireland had met in the same pub. They went to Spiteri's flat in Catford, and again Spiteri was persuaded to be cuffed and bound on his bed. Once more, Ireland demanded his bank number but didn't get it. He used a noose again to kill his victim.
After carrying out his post-murder ritual of cleaning and clearing the scene, Ireland set fire to the flat and left. He rang the police later to tell them to look for a body at the scene of a fire and added that he would probably not kill again. However, he had forgotten to wipe off one set of fingerprints he had left on the window.
At last the police connected all five killings, and word spread fast among the whole of London, not just within the gay community, that a serial killer who specifically targeted gay men was operating and could strike again at any time.
Investigations revealed that Spiteri had left the pub and travelled home with his killer by train, and a security video successfully captured the two of them on the railway platform at Charing Cross station. Ireland recognised himself and decided to tell police he was the man with Spiteri but not the killer — he claimed to have left Spiteri in the flat with another man. However, police had also found the fingerprints in Collier's flat which matched those of Ireland.
He was charged with the murders of Collier and Spiteri, and confessed to the other three while awaiting trial in prison. He told police that he had no vendetta against gay men, but picked on them because they were the easiest targets. He had robbed those he killed to finance his killings because he was unemployed at the time, and he needed funds to travel to and from London when hunting for victims.
When his case came to the Old Bailey on December 20, 1993, Ireland admitted all charges and was given life sentences for each. The judge, Mr Justice Sachs, said he was "exceptionally frightening and dangerous", adding: "To take one human life is an outrage; to take five is carnage."
Ireland's name was on the last published list of whole life tariff prisoners, meaning that he will have to stay in prison for the rest of his natural life. The Home Secretary has since had powers to impose such tariffs removed by the European Court of Human Rights, although this does not clarify Ireland's position, as the judge at his trial did not publicise his recommendation for how long Ireland should spend in prison — concurrently or otherwise - for his crimes. He is unlikely to be released for a very long time yet, if ever at all.
- Ireland has since become the subject of many books on serial killers
- Ireland is mentioned in the Manic Street Preachers’ song, Archives Of Pain