Cody Ackland sentenced for murder of Plymouth teenager Bobbi-Anne McLeod - as it happened

Bobbi-Anne McLeod, 18, was murdered in Plymouth in November last year

A musician from Plymouth has been sentenced for murdering 18-year-old Bobbi-Anne McLeod.

Cody Ackland, 24, admitted the killing and was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 30 years and 190 days at Plymouth Crown Court today (19 May).

Bobbi-Anne went missing from a bus stop close to her home in the Leigham area of the city in November last year.

A huge search operation was launched and her body was found three days later, around nine miles away in Bovisand.

Police said there was “no known link” between her and Ackland, of Radcliffe Close.

Tributes poured in for the teenager, who was described as a "happy" and "loving" girl by her friends and family.

Her brother, Lee, said he will "always treasure" his time with his sister, describing her as a "beautiful and talented girl".

ITV West Country brought you the latest updates from the court hearing. All the details below were published as the hearing happened.

Members of Bobbi-Anne’s family are in the public gallery. The court is also full with members of the press, police and crown prosecution service.

Judge Robert Linford is preparing to begin the sentencing hearing.

He said: "Anyone who feels they will not be able to contain their emotion should not remain.

"If there are any interruptions I shall direct that Mr Ackland is taken back to the cells and I shall clear the public gallery."

Ackland has been brought up to the dock. He is wearing a blue and white checked shirt. He has spoken to confirm his name and date of birth.

Prosecutor Richard Posner said: "Cody Ackland kidnapped and murdered Bobbi-Anne in a sustained and sadistic attack."

He said he inflicted "multiple injuries" to her face and head before dumping her body.

"Cody Ackland had a secret," he added. "He had a morbid interest in serial killers."

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

He told the court Ackland was driven by a desire to imitate the actions of the murderers he was obsessed with.

"His fantasy was about to become a tragic and wicked reality for Bobbi-Anne," Mr Posner said.

The court has heard that, in the days before the attack, Ackland searched online for serial killers, weapons and remote locations on Dartmoor.

'A normal day' for the McLeod family

Mr Posner is now telling the court about the day of the murder.

"November 20 was a normal day for the McLeod family - Donna, Adrian, and their teenage children Bobbi and Lee," Mr Posner said.

"Everyone was at home. Bobbi was planning to visit her boyfriend in another area of Plymouth. She was running late for the bus, she couldn’t find her shoes. She left the house telling her father she loved him."

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

A local man later found Bobbi’s mobile phone and AirPods on the ground near the bus stop.

It was not until three days later - on 23 November - that Ackland first came to the attention of the police.

At about 1pm that day, he sent a message to band members saying ‘love you guys’.

"It was a strange message to send," Mr Posner said: "He had also told his mum ‘I love you and I love the kids’. He then walked into Charles Cross police station and approached the front desk."

Ackland told officers ‘I did it’ and he was arrested on suspicion of murder

Ackland then asked for a map and pointed officers to Bovisand, telling them Bobbi would be found half way down the lane which led to the Bovisand cafe.

'I am solely responsible'

Police found Bobbi-Anne's body dumped in the undergrowth. When they later searched Ackland's car, they found her blood inside it.

At interview, he told police 'I am solely responsible', the court has heard.

Mr Posner said the murder was not sexually-motivated.

Mr Posner added: "The police investigation has found evidence that Cody Ackland was telling the truth, but not what motivated him to do it. It is a very harrowing and disturbing confession."

Mobile phone searches revealed morbid fascination

The court hears that in the weeks leading up to the attack, Ackland searched the internet for serial killers. Searches included ‘Ted Bundy dead victims bodies…. Golden State killer… Ivan Milat… Fred West… Tommy Sells.’

He also searched for ‘Dartmoor Forest’ and ‘Fernworthy Forest’.

He had been viewing images representing disturbing and dark material and in total there were 3,216 images on Ackland’s phone.

Bobbi-Anne was attacked from behind

Ackland told police he approached Bobbi from behind and hit her with the blunt end of a hammer before going back to his car.

He said he then saw her "sit up" and went back over to her. It was at this point he kidnapped her, attacking her again in his car before driving approximately 19 miles to Bellever Forest car park. It was there police believe she was killed.

People in the public gallery are in tears and some have had to leave court as we hear very graphic descriptions of what happened.

The court has been told Ackland put Bobbi-Anne’s body in the boot of his car before driving to Bovisand where he dumped her body.

Ackland told the police he drove to Tamerton Foliot and threw the hammer he used to kill Bobbi into the river Tamar. Despite extensive police searches, it has never been found.

Killer went to band practice after murder

He then went to band practice, and went out drinking with friends. His friends told police he seemed ‘a lot happier than usual’ as they went out for pizza and drinks after the attack.

Ackland told police it was ‘like a dream, like fantasy, like it didn’t happen’.

Ackland said that on the Monday before he handed himself in, his mother and step-sister started sharing posts about Bobbi going missing. He said ‘it was a bit close to home’.

He called in sick to work and started viewing images of Bobbi-Anne online. He went to the cinema alone and then socialised with friends.

Asked how he felt about it all, he told police: ‘It feels like someone else did it, but I know it was me."

The court heard he blamed a difficult childhood.

'She had so many life plans' - Bobbi-Anne's mum

The court is now hearing a victim impact statement from Donna, Bobbi-Anne's mum.

Cody Ackland admitted murdering Bobbi-Anne McLeod

In it, she says: "She was kind, loving and loyal. She had so many life plans. She wanted to go to college and become an interior designer. He had applied for her driving licence, she was about to open her first bank account. So much more to do. That’s the life you so cruelly ripped away from her and us, and for what?

"Her last words were to tell her dad ‘love you’.

"We will never see her beautiful face, never hear her laugh, see her get married, the children she so wanted. We have not been able to say goodbye.

"Was she scared? Did she shout out for us? To think her final hours were spent being tortured by you destroys us inside. Our lives have changed forever.

"We can’t contemplate a future without Bobbi-Anne in it. Her room is still now as it was. It’s hard to even open the door. Nothing the justice system can impose on you can ever come close to what you deserve."

A vigil was held for the Plymouth teenager shortly after her body was found Credit: ITV West Country

The court is now hearing from Ray Tully QC, mitigating for Cody Ackland.

"Nothing I can say today is going to make life any better for the family of Bobbi-Anne McLeod," he said.

"They will rightfully hold within their hearts utter hatred and contempt for the man I represent. Nobody can begrudge them that."

He added: "He does at least provide terrible answers to what happened. I expect the family of the deceased would want to know if it was possible to answer the question as to why it happened. That is more difficult, even impossible to explain. How can it make sense? It is senseless."

'Sliding doors' moment

Mr Tully told the court Bobbi-Anne was looking for her shoes before leaving the house.

"If she had found those shoes, she would have caught an earlier bus. On such sliding doors moments do lives change. Her family’s life was thrown into utter chaos."

Mr Tully QC argues the attack was not pre-planned, saying: "Something erupted in him, but it was not pre-formed to the extent that it suggested."

Ackland’s lawyer has spoken about the "challenges and difficulties" his client faced during his childhood, saying the "aftershocks still have a role to play in his culpability".

He said he was isolated, picked on and bullied in school and had suicidal thoughts as young as nine.

"There are reports of him being diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia, and anxiety, and placed on medication, and a depressive history dating back to the age of 12," Mr Tully added.

He said Ackland "grew up to hate himself", adding: "We arrive at the dreadful position of somebody going about their life and they have a sense that all is not right. He knew he had serious problems. The one thing he longed for was to be normal. He railed against the fact that he knew he wasn’t."

Mr Tully described Ackland’s obsession with serial killers and graphic material as "an addiction".

He added: "What he has done is truly grotesque. But at least he has owned up to it. Some who commit particularly heinous crimes of this kind are reluctant to ever admit what they have done. Some bodies go undiscovered for weeks, months, years.

"He presented with what is known as a ‘clean skin’. He had no forensic history. He was not on anybody’s radar. Had he not confessed, the body might have been found, but it might not have been.

The court has reconvened and is now hearing sentencing remarks from Judge Robert Linford.

'You were planning to kill' - judge

Speaking directly to Ackland, Judge Linford 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.

"I am satisfied that your interest in graphic material went beyond morbid fascination. The search history includes evidence of your searching remote and wooded locations on Dartmoor.

"I am satisfied that you were planning to kill. I cannot be satisfied that you drove into Plymouth with a settled intention to kill that night, but it was only a matter of time.

"You could have stopped. You could have taken her to hospital. Bobbi-Anne probably would have lived.

"You took her to Dartmoor, to an area a few miles north of where you had researched. I am sure your choice of location was no accident, it was planned.

"Bobbi-Anne said she was scared. As you took her into the forest, you were intent on killing her.

"This was determined savagery."

Judge Linford said a psychiatric report concludes Ackland is not presenting with a mental disorder.

"I have regard to your troubling past," he added. "You grew up feeling different to others and grew to loathe yourself."

He sentenced Ackland, who pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, to life in prison with a minimum term of 30 years and 190 days. The judge told him he may never be released.