A convicted child killer accused of abducting and murdering a sixth-former dug the teenager’s grave in front of a neighbour and pretended it was a sandpit, prosecutors have alleged.
Peter Tobin stood chest deep in the “trench-shaped” hole while neighbour David Martin joked about “digging to Australia”, Chelmsford Crown Court heard.
Prosecutors say Tobin, 62, from Johnstone, Renfrewshire, abducted and killed 18-year-old Dinah McNicol, of Tillingham, Essex, after she left a music festival in Liphook, Hampshire, in August 1991.
Jurors were told Miss McNicol’s remains were found buried in the garden of a house in Margate, Kent, where Tobin lived in 1991.
Prosecutors said Miss McNicol’s body was found near the remains of 15-year-old Vicky Hamilton, who had vanished from Bathgate, near Edinburgh, in February 1991.
Jurors were told Tobin had already been convicted of Vicky’s murder and was serving a life sentence.
Mr Martin, who lived next door to Tobin in Margate, said he remembered the hole being dug during the summer of 1991 – his wife Angela pinpointed the month as August.
“I was standing the other side in the garden,” said Mr Martin.
“I remarked to Peter Tobin that, because it was unusual to see him doing anything at all in the garden, I asked him, ‘What are you digging a hole for? Are you going to Australia?’”
Jurors heard Tobin was separated from his wife Cathy at the time but was visited by his son Daniel, then three, at weekends.
“He explained to me that it was for a sandpit for the young lad when he came up to play at the weekends,” added Mr Martin.
“The hole was quite deep. Mr Martin was standing in the hole approximately chest deep. Actually, it was formed like a trench which I thought was unusual for a sandpit.”
Mr Martin said he thought the hole odd.
“We thought it was a little strange,” he added. “It did seem a little on the deep side.”
Mr Martin said no sand was put in the hole and Tobin filled it in shortly afterwards.
“The sand never arrived, in fact the hole was filled in two days later and smoothed over,” said Mr Martin.
“He said that the social worker who was in charge of his son said that a sandpit was dangerous so he had filled it in.”
Mr Martin said Tobin lived alone at the house and appeared to be an “ideal neighbour”.
“I became friendly with Peter Tobin,” said Mr Martin.
“He was quiet. He was well behaved. There was no noise.”
Jurors were told that Miss Hamilton’s body had been cut in half to make “transportation south” easier before being buried in bin bags under a concrete slab.
Tobin denies murdering Miss McNicol.
The hearing continues today.