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Torture-killer Ireland dies in jail

A killer who was told he would never be released from jail after being convicted of torturing gay men to death almost 20 years ago has died in prison.

Colin Ireland, 57, is presumed to have died from natural causes in the healthcare centre of Wakefield Prison in West Yorkshire, a Prison Service spokeswoman said. He was given a whole-life tariff in 1993.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: "Colin Ireland died in HMP Wakefield's healthcare centre. He is presumed to have died from natural causes, a post-mortem will follow. As with all deaths in custody, the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will conduct an investigation."

One of Britain's worst serial killers, former soldier Ireland admitted attacking and killing five gay men he met in pubs in 1993.

Known as the "gay slayer", he reportedly posed as a homosexual to be taken to each of his victims' homes, where he tortured and murdered them after making a New Year's resolution in 1993 to become a serial killer.

But Ireland, who terrorised London's gay community, was caught later the same year when CCTV footage showed him with his last victim.

In May 2007, a report by the independent Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Advisory Group found that the Metropolitan Police inquiry was "hampered by a lack of knowledge of the gay scene in London and the special culture of S&M bondage".

According to a Real Crime documentary on the serial killer, the unemployed drifter killed five people in just over three months, including four in just 15 days, all in 1993. He would meet men at The Coleherne pub in Fulham, pose as an homosexual to be invited back to their homes, and then torture and kill them following sex games.

An avid reader of true crime books and FBI manuals, Ireland would reportedly clean up the murder scene and stay with the body until the morning, to avoid attracting attention by leaving in the middle of the night. He also demanded money and left with the victim's credit cards, a pattern he repeated in successive murders.

When he thought his first murder had gone unnoticed, Ireland, then of Southend, rang both the Samaritans and The Sun newspaper to tell them what he had done as he sought to achieve his resolution to become famous for being a serial killer.

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