A “sadistic psychopath” who raped and murdered a teenage girl in Cambridgeshire in 1987 has been sentenced for the rape, kidnap and assault of a second victim in the years leading up to the killing.
Colin Hill, 61, who has since changed his name to Martin Cooper, was found guilty in 1987 of the rape and murder of 17-year-old Leanne Scott in Cambridgeshire earlier that year.
At the time, Hill, of Russell Street, Luton, was given a life sentence, to serve a minimum term of 18 years in prison.
The trial’s judge, Mr Justice Leggatt, described him as a “sadistic psychopath who couldn’t be treated by medical science and would be a permanent danger to the public.”
Hill knew 17-year-old Leanne as he was friends with her father, a member of the local Hells Angels club, said Sarah Morris, prosecuting.
He apparently met the teenager, who lived for her horse Solo and dog Holkly, after luring her to a pub on her birthday.
The court heard how Hill raped Leanne, strangled her and shot her in the face with a sawn-off shotgun on her 17th birthday.
Her body was found dumped on fenland a mile from her home, tied up. Hill had also scratched her name into a shotgun cartridge.
The killer later told police that at the time of the murder, which was April of 1987, all he could think about was his ex-wife’s face and how much he hated her.
Hill was released on licence in 2018, around three decades later, but recalled to prison in November 2019 for allegedly breaching his licence conditions, a virtual hearing at Peterborough Crown Court was told today (Wednesday April 29).
He was later charged with five offences which were unrelated to his recall to prison and which happened between 1984 and 1987, before he murdered Leanne, said Ms Morris.
Hill’s sentence for the string of terrifying attacks were a result of a 33-year battle for justice by Hill’s ex-wife, Janet Cameron.
Janet, 54, bravely waived her anonymity to speak to The Mirror about her battle for justice.
She said: “If I can help one woman then it will be worth it.
“I want to let them know that even after all these years you can do something about it.
“I’ve lived with this for 33 years, not knowing I could take action because at the time I was told a wife couldn’t give evidence against her husband.”
After years of threats and beatings, Janet had managed to escape Hill but, weeks before killing Leanne, he abducted and raped her.
Now a grandmother, Janet has gone public after campaigners said there were 16 suspected domestic abuse killings in the first three weeks of the quarantine lockdown, more than double the average rate.
At a hearing earlier this month, Hill admitted to three counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, one of false imprisonment and one of rape.
Judge Matthew Lowe jailed Hill for seven years for the offences, which were all committed against his ex-wife, but said that the Parole Board will not release him until it is safe to do so.
Hill was given an indefinite restraining order preventing him from contacting his ex-wife.
Domestic violence or abuse can happen to anyone. Find out how and where to get help.
Advice from the NHS says that If you are at risk of domestic abuse or violence you can:
The Survivor’s Handbook from the charity Women’s Aid is free, and provides information for women on a wide range of issues, such as housing, money, helping your children, and your legal rights.
Men can also email email@example.com, which can refer men to local places that can help, such as health services and voluntary organisations.
For forced marriage and “honour” crimes, contact Karma Nirvana (0800 5999 247) or The Forced Marriage Unit (020 7008 0151).
Galop provides support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people experiencing domestic violence.
Anyone who needs confidential help with their own abusive behaviour can contact Respect on their free helpline on 0808 802 4040.
Carl Woolf, mitigating, said Hill was remorseful and he noted the “passage of time” since the offending.
Jane has said she is a very different person from the meek teenager targeted by Hill in the early 1980s.
Sitting in her garden in Sawtry, the village where she met the killer, Janet said: “We didn’t know about grooming in those days but that’s what it was.”
The pair married in 1984 and Janet, aged 18, soon fell pregnant with their daughter, Clare.
The court was told of an earlier assault in 1984, where Hill pushed Janet to the floor and repeatedly kicked her in the stomach with steel-capped boots while she was pregnant.
“He ripped the clothes from me,” recalled Janet, “and beat me while I lay on the floor trying to protect my stomach.”
Sadly, baby Clare died in Great Ormond Street hospital with a heart defect just days after she was born.
After she finally left the former Hells Angel in 1987, Hill went on to abduct and rape Janet after a terrifying journey through the same countryside where he would later kill Leanne.
Janet had agreed to meet him in a busy pub, but he forced her to get into his car.
“That’s when I knew I was in trouble,” she said.
“You could just tell when he turned, I knew I was going to get a beating. His eyes would change, they would go black and his whole demeanour would alter.”
He drove Janet to a wooded area near Leighton Bromswold, near Huntingdon in March 1987, ignoring her pleas to turn the car around, and instead he began to kiss and grope her without consent.
After making several threats of violence, he raped her.
Afterwards, he grabbed her and told her he would “keep her for a few days” and “he didn’t know what he was going to do with her.”
She said: “I could see he was going to kill me. I was that close to being his murder victim, that’s what fuelled his attack on Leanne, it was meant to be me.”
Although she suspected he had a knife and his shotgun, Janet kept calm and persuaded Hill to take her to a pub to so she could use the toilet.
She ran through the pub and hid under the landlord’s car until he eventually left.
The landlord found her under the car and arranged for her to be collected by her family.
Through a victim impact statement which she read during the hearing, Janet told Hill: “I hope you will never be released so you can’t cause any further pain.”
Janet has been backed by Leanne’s sister Kelly, 47, after the pair bonded through their shared desire for justice and concern at Hill’s release.
Kelly, who was 14 when her only sister was killed, said: “It was Leanne’s birthday last week. She would have been 50 and I never stop thinking about what she would have been like.
“I know she would have made a difference in this world.
“Leanne was just the kindest, sweetest girl and she wouldn’t have suspected a thing. Colin Hill should never see the light of day again.”
- If you are suffering abuse you can call the Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, on 0808 2000 247 or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk.