Top police chief explains motivation that he believes turns people into killers

A former top police officer who helped catch some of the UK's most twisted killers has warned criminals are getting "better" – and revealed the one thing he thinks turns someone into a murderer.

Ex-Detective Superintendent David Swindle, once a Senior Investigating Officer with Strathclyde Police, has brought hundreds of crooks to justice, including serial killer Peter Tobin and the perpetrators of the Glasgow Airport terror attack of 2007.

He now reviews high-profile cold cases abroad, helping to provide answers to families who have lost loved ones.

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And although the crimes he works on are all unique, one thing that helps him in his work is that he believes most killers have the same motivation, regardless of geography.

“What I have found when I’ve actually been dealing with murderers and serial killers, is there is an element of guile," he told the Daily Star.

"They're controlling, conniving, clever, charming.

"The big question people always ask is: 'Is it nature [or] nurture? Is it because of their background, do they develop it or are they born evil?'

“What makes them kill is power," he added.

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"Power, control, narcissism, and sexual motivation – it’s all about the power for them and that’s why they do it."

Swindle joined the force in 1977 and says he has worked on "hundreds" of criminal cases.

One of his most high-profile cases was killer Peter Tobin, who he brought to justice for the murder of 23-year-old student Angelica Kluk, whose body was hidden in an underground chamber beneath the floor near the confessional of a church.

Tobin was convicted of her murder in 2007 and given a life sentence with a minimum of 21 years.

But Swindle realised Tobin's age and method of killing suggested he could be a serial killer who had struck before.

"[Tobin] was 60 when he killed Angelica Kluk, and that was a complicated case, so I thought, ‘he has done this before’, and I tracked back his whole life," Swindle recalled.

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He created Operation Anagram in connection with the case, which led to the discovery of two more bodies – 15-year-old Vicky Hamilton and 18-year-old Dinah McNicol – at Tobin's former home in Kent.

The discoveries led to Tobin being given a whole life order.

The ex-police investigator, also known as The Scottish Detective, now works on cold cases related to deceased Brits abroad and is also travelling the length and breadth of the UK, telling his story in a one-man show titled The Makings of a Murderer.

He says people up and down the country want to know those he ensnared over his 34-year career managed to stay under the law's radar for so long.

David Swindle discusses the UK's most notorious serial killers and explores famous murder cases in his stage show The Makings of a Murderer, coming to London's Adelphi Theatre on Tuesday, April 18.


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