THERE are only about 50 prisoners convicted of murder in the United Kingdom who have been told that their life sentences mean just that. Given that small number, it is a horrible coincidence for the area that two of those killers were convicted of crimes committed in Camden Town – and, even more coincidentally, in the same year.
One is Anthony Hardy, a serial killer christened by the tabloids as ‘the Camden Ripper’ after leaving his victims’ bodies cut up and dumped in refuse bags at the end of 2002. His case has been recalled several times in the New Journal and on this blog.
The other gave himself his dramatic nickname: Tommy The Hacksaw. This is Thomas McDowell, who months before Hardy left severed legs and arms around the College Place Estate, put a torso and other cut body parts out with the rubbish near his flat close to Royal College Street.
Looking back 2002 was one of the worst years for Camden in terms of violent crime. There was a rash of murders which seemed to come through to the office on an almost fortnightly basis. One issue of the New Journal from ten years ago this month starts with the headline of ‘Grim find of torso’. Inside, there is a missing person’s appeal for trainee rabbi Andreas Hinz (pictured, above right), whose family had come over from Germany, worried sick. The stories were only linked up a couple of days later as the sheer horror of what had taken place was realised. Andreas, open about his sexuality and part of London’s Jewish gay and lesbian groups, had met his killer in the Black Cap pub, before going back to McDowell’s flat.
Some boys found his mutilated body one hot Wednesday afternoon soon afterwards. It was almost too horrific for words.
The case was ‘overshadowed’ for the want of a better word in terms of media coverage by what Hardy did soon afterwards. In officialdom, there was no inquiry into McDowell’s background and the abuse he had suffered as a child. He was later described as a ‘controlled psychotic’.
As an expression people might say, it was a summer to forget due to the pain that a series of unrelated murders brought this part of the world, but at the Belsize Park synagogue where Andreas was attached and at his family home near Osnabruck they will remember. Prayers will be said.