Angus Sinclair, otherwise known as the ‘World’s End Killer,’ has been behind bars in Scotland since 1982. A dangerous and prolific sexual predator, he is believed to have killed at least six young women and carried out a series of rapes and sexual assaults, many involving children, between 1977 and 1978. Today, Sinclair is 72-years-old and in failing health and police are urging him to confess to these unsolved murders as his health deteriorates to bring some peace to the families of his victims.
Deathbed confessions have resulted in many cold cases being finally being solved. For those who have a conscience buried inside their psyches, the prospect of their own lives coming to an end can push them into a mind-set of confession before they die.
Angus Sinclair: A Violent and Predatory History
From Glasgow, Sinclair’s twisted desires and violence reared their head when he was just a teen with a charge of sexual assault of an 8-year-old girl when he was 15-years-old. Just days after he turned 16 he would kill for the first time, taking the life of 7-year-old Catherine Reehill on 1 July 1960 which saw him imprisoned for 10 years for culpable homicide. Released in 1966 with seemingly no intention of controlling his sexual urges and violent nature justice would not catch up with Angus Sinclair for another 30 years.
A cold case review in 1997 matched Sinclair’s DNA with hair fibres found on the body of 17-year-old Mary Gallacher. Mary had been found on barren wasteland near Springburn in Glasgow in November 1978 after she had been raped and strangled before her killer had slit her throat and left her for dead. Already in prison since 1982 for a string of rapes of children aged six to fourteen, Sinclair was tried and convicted of murder in 2001 for the killing of Mary Gallacher, a court case followed in 2007 with charges of double-murder, in the case which would give Angus Sinclair the name he became known by.
“Thankfully, justice has no sell-by date in Scotland.”
On 15 October 1977, two 17-year-old school girls left the World’s End pub in Edinburgh and were seen getting into Angus Sinclair’s car. Christine Eadie and Helen Scott’s bodies were found the following day beaten, raped and strangled in locations six miles apart. Sinclair’s first trial in 2007 collapsed, however, in 2014 after the double jeopardy laws changed allowing an individual to be tried again for the same crime if new evidence was available, Angus Sinclair once again stood trial for double murder, this time being found guilty. It is believed Angus Sinclair carried out these two murders with his brother-in-law, Gordon Hamilton who died in 1996 never being charged with the killings. Sinclair was sentenced to life in prison to serve a minimum of 37 years, the longest prison term ever handed down in Scotland, ensuring he would never be released.
“You have displayed not one ounce of remorse for these terrible deeds. The evidence in this case as well as your record, details of which have now been revealed, shows that you are a dangerous predator, who is capable of sinking to the depths of depravity.”
Australia’s Mark ‘Chopper’ Read
The hope of a deathbed confession is not an unusual position for police with a number of known killers using their final days to unburden themselves of their secrets and their dark pasts. Mark ‘Chopper’ Read, a notorious criminal in Australia who found notoriety by becoming an author, confessed to four murders while he was dying of cancer in 2013.
A violent man, Read was a fraudster who was more than happy to use extreme violence and torture in order to get what he wanted. He had a fierce reputation as a result and was known as a career criminal that should be avoided throughout Australia. Tried once for murder, he was acquitted, however, he made numerous claims in his writing and in interviews that he had killed up to 19 people, revising this number down to “probably about four or seven” in his final interview with the New York Times.
Two weeks before he died of liver cancer he confessed in a TV interview that he did kill Siam Ozerkam otherwise known as ‘Sammy the Turk’, the man whose murder he was acquitted of in 1987. Ozerkam was killed outside a nightclub in Melbourne and Read claimed self-defence during his trial. In that final interview he told reporters, “Everyone swallowed it. I couldn’t understand. When I killed Sammy, that wasn’t self-defence. That was outright fucking murder.” He also confessed to three further murders of gang members and convicted murderers; claims that police could not be sure were actually true.
The problem with deathbed confessions involving individuals who have already shown their lack of conscience, their desire for fame and indifference to the pain and suffering of their victims and their families is they have a tendency to be fabricated by people who are skilled at lies and manipulation.
Ottis Toole and the Murder of Adam Walsh
Ottis Toole is a man who fits this profile who also made a number of confessions to murder before he died in September 1996. Already in prison for three murders, Toole had confessed to hundreds of murders over the years, most of which could not be confirmed by police and were believed to be untrue. Like his friend Henry Lee Lucas, Ottis Toole appeared to enjoy claiming responsibility for crimes he did not commit. He did, however, confess to one murder that on further investigation it appears he might have been telling the truth, the infamous and shocking murder of 6-year-old Adam Walsh.
Adam disappeared from a department store in 1981 and his severed head was later found in a canal by local fisherman. His father, John Walsh, became a fierce advocate for victims of violent crime as a result and went on to become the host of America’s Most Wanted. Years after Toole’s death, police announced that they believed he was the man responsible for the abduction and murder of Adam Walsh.
The Silence of Child Killer Derek Percy
The pleas by police and victims’ families to Angus Sinclair to confess to his crimes mirror those directed at child killer Derek Percy in Victoria, Australia in 2013 as he was dying from lung cancer. Derek Percy was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the murder of 12-year-old Yvonne Tuohy in June 1969 in Melbourne and has been in a secure unit ever since. Police spoke with Percy in his final days about a number of abductions and murders he was suspected of carrying out, hoping his deteriorating health would encourage him to talk.
Specifically they were looking for information on 7-year-old Linda Stilwell who disappeared in 1968 with Derek Percy the prime suspect for her murder. Derek Percy has also been named as an individual of interest in the case of the missing Beaumont children who disappeared from Glenelg Beach near Adelaide in 1965 and have never been found. Percy did not give any new information or make any confessions to the murders he was suspected of before he died in July 2013.
Angus Sinclair is believed to have just months left to live now requiring full-time medical care with a prison source telling the Daily Mirror, “People do not relish having to attend to him but they have a duty of care. He still has an evil look in his eyes.” He has shown no remorse for his actions over the last three decades but as the end of his life draws near there is always hope that he will provide answers. Former police chief Joe Jackson who arrested and investigated Angus Sinclair has said, “If he has any humanity, he’ll confess to the terrible things he’s done. This could be the last chance for him to do the right thing.”