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  1. ITV Report

Killer who escaped justice for more than 30 years

Paul Taylor Photo: Cambridgeshire Police

Killer Paul Taylor escaped justice for more than 30 years and built an apparently normal family life.

Following his conviction for the 1979 murder of Sally McGrath, 22, and five violent sex attacks, police said they would examine the possibility that during the intervening years Taylor was responsible for the rape and assault of yet more women.

Cambridgeshire Police defended the work of the original investigation team who interviewed Taylor, now 60, as prime suspect shortly after the discovery of Miss McGrath's body.

She was found badly decomposed in a shallow grave in woodland at Castor Hanglands, Cambridgeshire, in March 1980 after she disappeared from her Peterborough home the previous year.

Taylor was only charged with her murder last year following a fresh three-year investigation. Earlier inquiries had failed to gather sufficient evidence against him.

By the time he was re-arrested, Taylor had built a new life away from Peterborough where, his trial heard, he had been known as a "charismatic and womanising" builder.

The ex-soldier moved to Fareham, Hampshire, with his wife Beverley.

The couple ran a fish and chip shop and raised a family in the town.

But behind the veneer of his apparently respectable life, the force said it was possible Taylor continued attacking women who have never reported their ordeals to police.

The jury at Chelmsford Crown Court heard Taylor carried out three rapes in the months before Miss McGrath's murder - including one attack just yards from where her body was found.

During the 1970s and 1980s, he also stood trial for two other rapes but was cleared.

The latest trial heard one of the victims of the earlier allegations had felt pressurised to change her evidence and did not want to break-up Taylor's family.

Despite the catalogue of offences, Mr Hill defended the work of the original team of detectives, who carried out the force's biggest pre-Soham investigation.

Paul Taylor at the time of the murder Credit: Cambridgeshire Police

Many hundreds of people were spoken to and statements taken.

"The inquiry began only once Sally's body was recovered, almost eight months after she went missing, and so piecing together her last movements was always going to be a challenge.

"Despite this Taylor was identified as a suspect, but sadly there just wasn't enough evidence then to take him to court.

"The investigation was as good as it gets for the time but policing has changed dramatically since then.

"This isn't as a result of specific lessons from this inquiry but as a result of a greater professionalisation of the service.

"For example, we now have far better techniques to ensure we extract every relevant bit of information from witnesses."

– Detective Superintendent Jeff Hill, Cambridgeshire Police

Taylor's arrest followed a cold case review. Very few exhibits remained from the time but the team decided there could be witnesses who could help prove Taylor's involvement.