Child killer 'joked as he dug garden grave'

A CHILD killer joked with a neighbour as he dug a grave for the Essex sixth former he had abducted and strangled, jurors were told today.

A CHILD killer joked with a neighbour as he dug a grave for the Essex sixth former he had abducted and strangled, jurors were told today.

Peter Tobin, 63, of Johnstone, Renfrewshire, was seen digging a hole in the garden of his then home in Margate, Kent, in the summer of 1991, Chelmsford Crown Court heard.

Prosecutors said he was digging the grave of 18-year-old Dinah McNicol, who disappeared while making her way to her home in Tillingham, Essex, from a music festival in Liphook, Hampshire, in August 1991.

David Martin, who lived next door to Tobin in Margate in 1991, today told the court how the pair joked while the hole was being dug.

"He was chest deep in the hole," said Mr Martin.

"We were on reasonably (sic) speaking terms at the time. I leaned over the fence and quipped 'are you going for Australia, mate?'.'

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Mr Martin added: "I had never seen him doing anything in the garden before. He joked back. It was very light-hearted.'

Mr Martin said he could not recall exactly what Tobin said.

"He replied to me with some kind of quip,' said Mr Martin.

Prosecutors have told the court that detectives searched the garden in November 2007.

They found the remains of Miss McNicol and 15-year-old Vicky Hamilton buried in separate graves.

Jurors were told that Miss Hamilton vanished from Bathgate, near Edinburgh, in February 1991.

Tobin had been convicted of her murder and was serving a life sentence, jurors were told.

The court heard that Tobin had lived in Bathgate until March 1991 when he moved to Margate.

Jurors were told that he had killed Miss Hamilton less than a year after his wife Cathy had left him and moved to Portsmouth, Hampshire.