Wales’ most feared killers and how they were caught

Collected here are the faces of some of the most feared killers ever to strike in Wales. They are the men behind some of the most notorious crimes the country has ever seen.

We have looked at the the stories behind their crimes and how they struck fear into the hearts of their communities.

And we have explored how each of these cruel killers was brought to justice and eventually sent to jail for life.

Christopher May

Murderer and “sexual predator” Christopher May, is currently serving life behind bars with a minimum term of 28 years in prison.

The former butcher, who “callously” dismembered victim Tracey Woodford, will spend the rest of his life on licence if he is ever released.

The trial heard how May, 50, strangled Ms Woodford to death after he invited her back to his flat after they met at The Skinny Dog pub in Pontypridd.

May had sex with Ms Woodford but it is not known whether she was alive or dead at the time.

Tracey Woodford
(Image: PA)

He then dismembered her body using a saw and other tools and hid her head and torso in a storm drain near Pontypridd RFC.

After Ms Woodford’s family reported her missing to the police officers discovered limbs in a shower cubicle at May’s flat in Rickards Street, Graig.

It took a jury 50 minutes to return a unanimous guilty verdict of murder following May’s trial at Cardiff Crown Court.

Cries of “Yes” were heard from Tracey Woodford’s family in the public gallery as May’s sentence was passed while the killer remained emotionless as he was taken down to the cells.

The former steakhouse worker had earlier told a jury how he had killed Tracey when he “lost control” during an argument after he claimed she tried to steal his wallet and insulted his child.

Christopher May was given a life sentence
(Image: Matthew Horwood/Wales News Service)

The judge thanked investigating officer, Detective Inspector Rob Cronick, of South Wales Police, and praised the “consummate professionalism” of Police Sergeant Stuart Williams and Police Constable Craig Gardner who discovered parts of Tracey’s body at May’s flat.

Read more: The murder and mutilation of a vulnerable woman that left a town reeling

Sammy Almahri

It was around midday on New Year’s Eve 2014 when staff at the Future Inns hotel in Cardiff Bay discovered the body of Nadine Aburas in room 203.

The duvet had been pulled over her head, the ottoman had been pulled from its normal position, and stained bedding and towels had been left in the bathroom.

It led to one of the most complex operations South Wales Police had ever been involved in.

Almost two years later American millionaire businessman Sammy Almahri was jailed for 17 years for murdering his ex-girlfriend.

The New Yorker was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum term of 17 years, after admitting murder on the second day of his trial at Cardiff Crown Court .

Nadine Aburas, 28, was brutally murdered
(Image: WALES NEWS SERVICE)

Shortly after the killing, Almahri left the Future Inns hotel in the early hours of the morning and made his way to Heathrow Airport and jumped on a plane to Qatar in a bid to escape justice.

Although Almahri was thousands of miles overseas, police were able to track him down in Tanzania and bring him back to Wales in order for him to face the consequences of his barbaric actions.

During the manhunt, investigating officer and chief negotiator in the case, Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Morgan, conducted a number of conversations with Almahri as he attempted to remain one step ahead of the authorities.

Almahri and Nadine met on internet dating site MuslimMatch.com in 2012.

They developed a long-distance relationship through phone calls and Skype and he visited Cardiff several times in 2013.

Nadine visited him in New York the following summer and later told police he raped her.

Sammy Almahri, was seen leaving the Cardiff hotel
(Image: WALES NEWS SERVICE)

He also sent her threatening messages, with one saying: “I have been calling you a lot. I will never ever stop now or give up. I will harm you.”

Almahri visited Nadine around Christmas time in 2014 but was told to leave the country following a dispute with Nadine’s brother.

However, instead of getting the train back to London and hopping on the next plane from Heathrow to New York Almahri booked himself into the Future Inns hotel in Cardiff Bay.

He called Nadine and asked her to come to the hotel, telling her he had left his passport and phone at her house and he wanted them back.

After visiting a nearby restaurant, where staff said “something wasn’t right”, the pair arrived back at the hotel at around 11.10pm.

It was the last time Nadine was seen alive.

Before leaving the hotel he approached bar manager Peter Morris and asked for directions to the M4.

He said he had left a Do Not Disturb sign on the door because his “sister” was still sleeping.

At 12.20pm on New Year’s Eve the duty manager entered room 203 and discovered Nadine’s body.

Hotel staff then called the police who arrived and began their investigation.

Det Chief Insp Morgan, who led the operation, said: “He took Nadine’s phone and laptop with him. He phoned the hotel and told them they needed to look in room 203 because he was worried about his friend.

“He spoke to a detective and was asking if she was okay.

“The call became weird and a negotiator – me – was deployed. Almahri lied and lied and said he tried to help her kill herself and he didn’t know she was dead. It was quite bizarre. He was concerned about her being buried.

“The negotiation was to secure a safe arrest and stop him from causing harm to another person.”

The New York businessman was a millionaire
(Image: WALES NEWS SERVICE)

On January 2, 2015, Almahri began contacting Nadine’s friends and family, as well as posting to her Facebook account.

Almahri also sent a text message to Ms Aburas’s mother. He said: “I know how you feel, let tittle (sic) go. I love her too. It’s your f****** son.”

On January 19, 2015, Almahri was found in the town of Iringa in Tanzania, where he had family, and was detained.

After a number of preliminary hearings at Cardiff Crown Court, in which Almahri pleaded not guilty to murder, a trial date was set for October 19, 2016, and was due to last a number of weeks.

But after the first day of the trial when the case was opened Almahri changed his plea to guilty and he was sentenced on November 3.

Read more: Finding a killer: The story of the international manhunt after woman’s body was found in Cardiff hotel

John Cooper

Millionaire farmer Richard Thomas, 58, and his sister Helen, 56, were shot at their remote mansion near Milford Haven in 1985.

Three and a half years later, in 1989, Gwenda and Peter Dixon were shot at close range while taking a walk along the Pembrokeshire coastal path near Little Haven

Hiding their blood soaked bodies in a screen of hazel twigs and bracken, John Cooper later cycled into Pembroke and Haverfordwest to use their cash card. Witnesses described him as the notorious “wild looking man” whose photofit was widely circulated.

But psychopath Cooper made a fatal mistake, taking Mrs Dixon’s shorts and wearing them for years as a bizarre “trophy”.

Over more than a quarter of a century Cooper broke into dozens of people’s homes, escaping from his crimes with money and people’s prized possessions via a maze of hedgerows and fields whose fences he cut to give him access.

He even used curry powder to stop police dogs following him home.

Gwenda Dixon
(Image: WALES NEWS SERVICE)
Peter Dixon
(Image: WALES NEWS SERVICE)

As well as being behind the horrific double murders which left police baffled for two decades, in 1996, dressed in a sinister black balaclava and holding a loaded shotgun, he held up five terrified teenagers in woods at Milford Haven’s Mount Estate, raping one girl aged 16 and indecently assaulting another aged 15.

The murders were heavily featured on the BBC’s Crimewatch and thousands of people including some across Europe were interviewed but for years they remained unsolved.

However, Dyfed Powys Police were convinced Cooper was the murderer, and he  was jailed for life in May, 2011, for the two double murders.

John Cooper
(Image: Wales News Service)

A  Swansea Crown Court jury also convicted him for his terrifying actions against the teenagers in Milford Haven, including rape and indecent assault.

He has has since been implicated in five other murders.

In November, 2012, his appeal was rejected. He will never be freed from jail.

Read more: ‘The moment Bullseye revealed the killer’: How shotgun killer John Cooper was caught

Peter Moore

“Like a knife through butter.”

That was the chilling description given by serial killer Peter Moore when asked how it felt to murder his victims, according to a book published earlier this year.

It was a reply said to have been given in an interview to police following his arrest in December, 1995.

He was a sadistic sex predator, responsible for both violently stabbing to death four men that year and a string of serious assaults dating back decades.

Moore was said to have referred to times he’d drive around the Conwy Valley area looking for men to attack and said: “Usually I would be dressed as a policeman, or in a Nazi uniform, just to scare them.

He said: “I would assault them with a police truncheon and strike them on the body and their heads many times.

“I heard that a few of these men had been seriously injured as a result.”

Peter Moore
(Image: Daily Mirror)

His murdering spree was due to come to an end though after police linked him to the death of his final victim, married father-of-two Tony Davies, who he’d stabbed at a gay cruising area at Pensarn Beach near Abergele.

Moore was arrested on December 22, 1995, and, after initially denying all charges, changed his story in the early hours of Christmas Eve after a search of his home uncovered the murder weapon, traces of all four men’s blood and some of the victims’ belongings hidden in the garden pond.

Chillingly though, it was while he was being interviewed that Moore also confessed that the death count could have turned out even higher.

At one point he admitted to detectives that he once singled out as his next target a pedestrian he’d seen whilst driving through Llangefni in Angelsey.

He was handed four life sentences in November, 1996, and remains locked up in one of the UK’s toughest jails, HM Prison Wakefield in West Yorkshire – the so-called Monster Mansion – alongside the likes of April Jones’ murderer Mark Bridger and paedophile Lost Prophets singer Ian Watkins.

Read more: Wales’ worst serial killer’s chilling description of how it felt to murder his victims

David Morris

David Morris was handed four life sentences after he brutally bludgeoned three generations of a family to death with a pole in south Wales’ worst mass murder.

First the killer entered his victims’ home, went upstairs and smashed a heavy fibreglass pole repeatedly into the face of 80-year-old invalid grandmother Doris Dawson.

When Mandy and her daughters arrived home, he killed them in identical, sadistic fashion.

A jury at Swansea Crown Court were unanimous in finding David Morris guilty after an 11-week trial
(Image: PA)

The horrific crime took place in Kelvin Road, Clydach, on Saturday, June 27, 1999.

Morris had sexually assaulted and killed Ms Power before inflicting devastating head injuries on her daughters – Katie, 10, and Emily, eight.

He then washed his clothes in the shower before starting several fires around the house to try to cover his tracks.

When firefighters and the police arrived they found the bodies of the victims laid out in the hall.

Mandy Power, daughters Katie and Emily, and grandmother Doris Dawson
(Image: PA)

A bloodstained gold necklace was found at the scene which Morris eventually admitted was his, although he claimed it was broken and he’d left it in Ms Power’s house after going around there for a coffee.

But three others were arrested and questioned before Morris was eventually charged with the murders, and convicted in 2002. That conviction was later quashed by the Court of Appeal after it found he had not received a fair trial due to a conflict of interest.

The Swansea builder was jailed for life for the second time in 2006 after a prior conviction was quashed.

He has always protested his innocence and there is a campaign to see him eventually freed, but at present he remains in jail.

Read more:  Who murdered Mandy Power and her family? Academic says new evidence calls conviction into question

Matthew Hardman

Ninety-year-old widow Mabel Leyshon was stabbed to death in November, 2001, in Llanfairpwll, on Anglesey, by Matthew Hardman.

He had lived just a few yards away and had been Mrs Leyshon’s paper boy. He mutilated her body before placing pokers at her feet in the shape of a cross.

Mabel Leyshon
Matthew Hardman

His victim’s heart had been removed, wrapped in newspaper, and placed in a saucepan on a silver platter next to her body.

A Meals on Wheels worker discovered the horrific scene the following day but over the next month the police’s leads went nowhere.

Then, late in December when a Crimewatch appeal revealed the ritualistic aspects of the death, the killer was immediately dubbed ‘The Vampire Murderer’. More than 200 people got in touch with Crimewatch. The name of Mathew Hardman – who had been questioned in October, 2001, for asking a foreign exchange student to bite his neck – was mentioned.

Police officers searched his home and found magazines and books about vampires, including Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and several occult internet sites bookmarked on his computer in a bid to find out how to become immortal. They also found a kitchen knife, which bore traces of Mrs Leyshon’s blood.

A court heard how the killer had drunk his victim’s blood in a “macabre ritual”.

Hardman was jailed for life in 2002.

Read more:

Teen ‘vampire’ killer said going to prison was ‘the most exciting thing to have ever happened to him’

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Clive Sharp

Clive Sharp entered a house in the middle of the night and raped Irish vet Catherine Gowing, 37, in New Brighton, Mold.

She was then killed and her body mutilated by cutting it into pieces and disposing of it in and near to the River Dee.

The vet’s disappearance sparked North Wales Police’s largest ever search operation. Remains were first found on October 31 in a shallow pool in a field in Sealand known locally as the Lum.

Two days later an off duty Cheshire Police officer walking the banks of the River Dee in Chester found further remains.

Her sadistic killer was later sentenced to a 37-year minimum term after the murder in October, 2012.

Catherine Gowing
Clive Sharp

A judge said he was such a danger to women that he should never be released.

WalesOnline – Cardiff