Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

'Sexual predator' guilty of murder

Sally McGrath's body was found in woodland near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, in March 1980 after she vanished in July 1979
Paul Taylor has been found guilty of the murder of Sally McGrath

A man described as a "sexual predator" has been found guilty of a 1979 murder and five attacks on other women.

Sally McGrath, 22, was found naked in a shallow grave in woodland near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, in March 1980 after vanishing in July 1979. Her killer could not be found despite a major police investigation.

Former soldier and builder Paul Taylor, 60, originally from Peterborough and now of Valentine Close, Fareham, Hampshire, was arrested last year following a cold case review.

At Chelmsford Crown Court, a jury found him guilty of murder following 23 hours of deliberation. He was found guilty of three counts of rape, one attempted rape and a serious sexual assault, which were all committed in the months leading up to Miss McGrath's murder.

Mr Justice Owen told Taylor: "You have finally been brought to justice and you will now serve life in prison." Taylor will be sentenced on Wednesday morning.

He commended Cambridgeshire Police detectives for solving the mystery, which officers at the time had failed to bring to court despite the force's biggest pre-Soham investigation. The force said it would now investigate possible further sex attacks committed by Taylor during the years he escaped justice.

Detective Superintendent Jeff Hill, who led the new investigation, said: "As a result of this inquiry, we have already considered what other offences may have been committed by Taylor. Given the nature of the offending, there is every chance that similar crimes have occurred that we just quite simply don't know about."

Opening the trial, prosecutor Karim Khalil told the court Taylor was married at the time of the 1979 offences. Describing Taylor as a "sexual predator", Mr Khalil added: "But if he did not have his own way, he had the capacity to become violent very quickly. He used this violence to force young women into submission or simply have his way with them."

A statement was read outside court on behalf of Miss McGrath's parents, Christine and Joe, and the rest of the family. It said: "We would like to express our thanks to Detective Superintendent Jeff Hill and all of the current members of his cold case team for their hard work, dedication and professionalism."

Speaking after the verdict, Mr Hill said: "I would like to pay tribute to Sally's family who have retained their optimism and dignity throughout this entire process. I hope that the pain of the last 30 years will now, to some extent, start to subside."

www.justice.gov.uk/about/hmcts(HM Courts Service)

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