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Sally McGrath murderer will serve at least 18 years behind bars

December 5, 2012, 1:28 pm

A man has today (December 5) been jailed for life for the murder of a Peterborough woman more than 30 years ago.
Former builder Paul Taylor, 60, was told he would serve a minimum of 18 years in prison for the murder of Sally McGrath by Mr Justice Owen at Chelmsford Crown Court.
Yesterday, he was found guilty of murdering Sally after meeting her at the city’s Bull Hotel on July 11, 1979.

Sally, 22, was found naked except for a pair of boots and partially buried in woodland at Castor Hanglands, to the west of Peterborough, on March 1, 1980.

It took a jury of eight women and four men more than 22 hours to convict Taylor of her murder following an eight-week trial.

Taylor, of Valentine Close, Fareham, Hampshire, was also found guilty of a number of serious sexual offences.
He was given separate 16-year sentences for two counts of rape and a serious sexual assault on a 20-year-old woman; 14 years for the rape of a 17-year-old girl and nine years for the attempted rape of a 24-year-old woman.
All the sentences will run concurrent to one another and concurrent to the 18-year minimum for murder.

All the offences happened in the Peterborough area in 1979.

An investigation, the largest in the force’s history at the time, was launched following the discovery of Sally’s body but charges were never brought.

However, a cold case investigation called Operation Highfields was launched three years ago and in November 2010 Taylor was arrested at his Hampshire home and brought to Cambridgeshire. He was charged with Sally’s murder and a number of other sexual offences in October last year.

Detective Superintendent Jeff Hill, who led the investigation, said: “Thirty-three years ago, a young woman, with her entire life ahead of her, was brutally murdered in Peterborough.

“Paul Taylor, a predatory sex offender, attacked and raped a number of innocent, vulnerable young women and murdered Sally McGrath but today I am relieved to say he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

“I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the outstanding courage of so many of the witnesses that gave evidence against Taylor in this trial and in particular those women who were victims of his abhorrent crimes. Their fortitude has been humbling and I hope the conviction and today’s sentencing allows them to secure closure and move on with their lives.

“Additionally, 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 30 years will now to some extent start to subside.

“The conviction was the result of three years’ hard work. There was no DNA, CCTV or other single piece of overwhelming evidence, just a solid case built around witness testimony. I am extremely proud to have led this enquiry but its success is entirely down to the hard work, dogged determination and belief of a small number of exceptional investigators. I would like to thank them for their resilience, professionalism and Detective ability.

“Lastly, I would like to say that Taylor deserves every second of his imprisonment for the misery he has bought to so many lives. I pray that Sally can now rest in peace and hope that the message to anyone who is aware of this investigation is clear – the British police do not forget”.

The court heard Sally’s murder was the “culmination of predatory behavioural traits” displayed by Taylor.

In the months before Sally’s murder, Taylor, a former soldier who was married at the time, twice raped and seriously sexually assaulted a 23-year-old woman.

He met the victim at the Bull Hotel, in Westgate, on March 15, 1979, and invited her to another pub.

Taylor raped and seriously sexually assaulted her after pulling off the A1 and driving to an isolated spot. He carried out the attack despite the victim begging him to stop.

Later that night he took her to the Haycock Hotel, in Wansford, where he raped her again before returning her to her Peterborough home the next morning.

The next attack happened on April 8 when Taylor offered a 24-year-old woman a lift home from an event they had both attended. He then attempted to rape her in a lay-by in Peterborough but she resisted and was pushed out of the car.

Then, on June 28, Taylor and his neighbour Paul Stringer took a 17-year-old girl out in his van.

As he drove out of the city he pulled over at Castor Hanglands, near to where Sally’s body would be found, and told Mr Stringer to leave them. He then forced her to the ground and raped her.

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