'Evil' killer Cody Ackland who partied after murdering Plymouth teen Bobbi-Anne jailed for life

Police believe if it hadn't been Bobbi-Anne McLeod stood at the bus stop that night, killer Cody Ackland would've picked someone else, reports ITV News Correspondent Rupert Evelyn

A Plymouth man has been jailed for life after brutally murdering an 18-year-old in a sadistic and prolonged attack he carried out to satisfy his morbid fascination with serial killers.

Cody Ackland, 24, struck Bobbi-Anne McLeod on the head with a claw hammer at a bus stop in Leigham, Plymouth, on the night of Saturday 20 November last year.

He then abducted her and drove to Bellever Forest car park on Dartmoor where he repeatedly attacked and then murdered the teenager.

Ackland then went to Bovisand, stripped Bobbi-Anne and dumped her body in undergrowth. He later threw away her clothes in an allotment before going out to party with friends.

Three days later he turned himself in to police and confessed to the murder, telling detectives where he had disposed of Bobbi-Anne’s body.

Ackland, from Southway, pleaded guilty to murder at Plymouth Crown Court on 5 April and was today (19 May), sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 30 years and 190 days.

Judge Robert Linford said he may never be released.

Speaking directly to Ackland, he said: "She had the whole of her life in front of her until it was brutally and savagely snuffed out by you.

"She was a much-loved daughter and sister and friend to many. She was the light of the family home. She was kind, loving, loyal and the best daughter parents could have. Her parents and brother are devastated by her loss."

He said Bobbi-Anne was "scared" as Ackland took her to a remote spot on Dartmoor, describing the murder as "determined savagery".

Cody Ackland lived a 'secret' double life

The court heard Ackland was leading a double life and had a secret - a morbid interest in a significant number of serial killers from around the world, particularly US killer Ted Bundy whose kidnap and murder of young women bore similarities to Ackland’s crime. There were pictures of Bundy and the weapons he used on his phone.

In the days and weeks leading up to Bobbi-Anne’s death, Ackland searched the internet for information about serial killers’ crimes, their aftermath and the bodies left behind.

He kept a huge supply of grisly images on his phone, depicting dismembered or dead bodies, post-mortems and murder scenes.

Over the days and hours before the murder Ackland browsed for remote locations on Dartmoor and for potential weapons.

Bobbi-Anne’s disappearance

The court heard Saturday 20 November was a normal family day for Bobbi-Anne. She left her Leighham home around 5.45pm to see her boyfriend.

She told her father she loved him and headed to the nearby bus stop on Bampton Road.

The bus stop in Leigham where Bobbi-Anne McLeod was attacked

Bobbi-Anne was seen there between 6.05pm and 6.15pm, looking up the street, checking for the bus.

But Ackland was out in his car and about to pass through Leigham. Phone data put him in the same location as Bobbi-Anne at around 6.55pm.

By 7.15pm her family had not heard from her and they were starting to worry. Meanwhile, a local man stumbled across Bobbi-Anne’s mobile phone and her AirPods case at the bus stop; he gave them to the bus driver who arrived at 7.23pm but they both assumed someone had lost them.

At 9pm, Bobbi-Anne’s boyfriend phoned the family home asking if she was still there. Her family called friends and went out looking for her.

As concern began to spread on social media, members of the community joined the search the next day.

Police searching for evidence following Bobbi-Anne's disappearance. Credit: BPM Media

A local schoolboy, who had seen Bobbi-Anne waiting for the bus the night before, found her AirPods on a path behind the bus stop on Sunday morning. Devon and Cornwall Police launched an extensive missing person search and public appeal for help.

The confession

On Tuesday 23 November, Ackland left work at a valeting department of a Plymouth garage around noon and never returned.

At 1.30pm, he walked into Charles Cross police station in Plymouth saying he had information about the Leigham disappearance. He was arrested on suspicion of murder.

Cody Ackland is facing a life sentence after he admitted murdering Bobbi-Anne McLeod Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police/PA

Ackland asked for a map and directed police officers to Bovisand, saying Bobbi-Anne could be found in the lane that led to the beach cafe. All focus turned to finding Bobbi-Anne in the hope that she was still alive.

At around 3.45pm, detectives found her body within vegetation around 15ft down a steep incline halfway down the densely wooded lane.

She had died from multiple injuries to her head and face inflicted during a prolonged and frenzied attack.

Brutal attack

In disturbing police interviews Ackland revealed the horrific circumstances about the night of the murder for which he said he was 'solely responsible'.

He confessed, he claimed, to help the police and Bobbi-Anne’s family.

According to his account, the initial attack at the bus stop ‘was meant to be it’ and he went back to his Ford Fiesta.

However, Ackland then went back to the victim and kidnapped her into his car before driving approximately 19 miles to Bellever Forest car park, arriving around 7.45pm.

It was here he attacked her repeatedly with the hammer outside the car before burning her handbag nearby along with other items from the vehicle.

Ackland then put Bobbi-Anne into his car boot and drove to Bovisand, pulling into a layby on the remote lane around 9.15pm, before putting her body in undergrowth. He then went home to bed.

Bobbi-Anne's trainer was located in wooded area off Coombe Lane Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police.

The next day he drove to Tamerton Foliot, threw the hammer into the River Tamar and threw a carrier bag containing his and her blood-stained clothing into nearby allotments in Coombe Lane. The hammer was never recovered despite a thorough police search.

Ackland then went for pizza with a friend, attended practice with bandmates in his rock band, got a takeaway and drank into the early hours of the next day with friends at a pub lock-in.

Friends recall him being ‘happier than usual’. Ackland went to the cinema the day after.

In interview he told the police the killing was not on his mind because it was ‘so out there’ and extreme that it was almost like a film or fantasy.

He admitted that he did not know how he felt about the murder, that it felt like someone else had committed the crime, but he knew deep down it was him.

Forensic evidence and phone location data gathered during the murder investigation corroborated Ackland’s account.

Crime scene investigators located the bag of clothes in the allotments. Ackland’s blood-stained trainers were also found in his wardrobe. Bobbi-Anne’s blood was found in and around the car.

Cody Ackland's Ford Fiesta Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

Murder on his mind

Investigators uncovered 3,216 images on Ackland’s phone, many of a disturbing and dark nature and reminiscent of horror films.

Senior Crown Advocate Richard Posner told the court that Ackland’s interests were ‘sinister and relevant to his motivation’, saying: "His interest in the macabre presents as deep-rooted; a fascination with death, murder and murderers and the means to commit murder."

He had viewed and kept extreme and graphic images of dead and dismembered people, bodies of purported murder victims, post-mortems, deposition sites and artefacts linked to murders such as weapons or soiled and tainted items.

Ackland possessed images linked to serial killers and historic missing persons appeals by US police.

Mr Posner added: "There are numerous images of the American serial killer Ted Bundy in his telephone and images of weapons he used to kill his victims. Bundy approached his victims in public places and knocked them unconscious before killing them.

"It is not a coincidence that Bobbi-Anne McLeod met her fate the same way."

Detective Inspector Stephanie Blundell, senior investigating officer, from Devon and Cornwall’s Major Crime Investigation Team, said: "I welcome today’s sentence. However, today does not bring cause for celebration.

"This was a shocking and brutal crime which led to a young life being tragically cut short and changed the lives of Bobbi’s family forever. The details of the case heard today were harrowing, particularly for Bobbi’s family.

"I would like to thank the investigators who worked on this case, including the detectives, uniformed officers, forensic investigators and all of the support teams who conducted themselves professionally and sensitively in a case of such distressing nature.

"I would like to commend Bobbi-Anne’s family – Donna, Adrian and Lee - for the strength, courage and resilience they have demonstrated throughout the investigation process and in particular, today’s hearing.

"The senseless and evil acts of one man have devastated their lives and I hope that today’s outcome brings them a sense of justice.

"The impact of this case has been felt far and wide across the communities of Plymouth, particularly in Leigham. It has been heartening to see the community come together in support of Bobbi’s family.

"I hope the community can now focus on healing and recovery, knowing that Ackland will be in prison for a substantial length of time."

Bobbi-Anne's family say her killer "took away their world"

Ian Wilkinson, senior crown prosecutor for CPS South West, said: "Bobbi-Anne was just 18 years old when her life was taken away in the most cruel and shocking manner.

"As this case reaches its end our thoughts are very much with Bobbi-Anne's family as they continue to live with what Cody Ackland did.

"The CPS were involved with the case from the start of the investigation following the discovery of Bobbi-Anne’s body. We worked closely alongside our partners in the police to build the strongest possible case to ensure that Ackland was held responsible for what he did.

"Violence against women and girls has a devastating effect on victims and their families. The CPS is dedicated to working with our partners in the criminal justice system to bring offenders to justice and make the public safer."

Help and support

If you’ve been affected by anything in this news article, support is available. Please contact the police by email: 101@dc.police.uk or telephone 101. Alternatively, advice and support are also offered by our partner agencies:

Victim Care Unit (Devon and Cornwall) - 01392 475900

Victim Support - 0300 303 0554. For more information visit: Get help - VictimSupport