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Killer to die in jail as fears grow for more ex-partners

A double murderer who called himself ‘the Scalp Hunter’ was told that he will die in jail yesterday after being convicted of butchering two women and dumping them in canals.

John Sweeney (54) was given a whole-life sentence at the Old Bailey for the murders of former girlfriends Paula Fields and Melissa Halstead.

Their bodies were discovered a decade apart in England and Holland and police now fear three other missing women may have suffered the same fate.

Sweeney, a carpenter, boasted of his violence in lurid paintings and verse found at his home.

Mr Justice Sweeney said the gravity of the offences was exceptional and only a whole-life term would do.

He said: “These were terrible, wicked crimes. The mutilation of the bodies is a serious aggravating feature of the murders. Not only does it reveal the cold-blooded nature of the killer, but it has added greatly to the distress of the families.”

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

Asked if the women were thought to have been murdered, Det Ch Insp Howard Groves said outside court: “We have some information which would suggest that is a possibility.”

In addition to the two murders, he also launched an axe attack on a girlfriend, nurse Delia Balmer, for which he was serving four life terms.

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