(born 1977) is a convicted British murderer.
McDowell was born in Ballymena,
Northern Ireland, but later moved to London, England.
He murdered homosexual German-born
trainee rabbi Andreas Hinz, 27, in Camden on 3 July
2002, by strangling him before dismembering his body.
At McDowell's trial two years later,
it was revealed that he had been abused as a child and
grew up with a sense of hatred towards homosexuals, as
well as suffering from a personality disorder.
McDowell admitted manslaughter on the
grounds of diminished responsibility and was sentenced
to life imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court on 30
September 2004. The trial judge spoke of his doubt as to
whether it would ever be thought safe to release
McDowell back into the community, and recommended that
he should never be released. He began his life sentence
at Rampton Hospital in Lincolnshire.
McDowell is one of around 30
prisoners currently in the prison system who have been
recommended for lifelong imprisonment. In February 2007,
it was reported that the European Court of Justice was
reviewing such sentences to determine whether they
amounted to a violation of human rights. The review has
yet to be completed, but if lifelong imprisonment is
outlawed, McDowell and all other prisoners serving such
sentences (in the UK and the rest of Europe) will have
their cases recalled to court for new minimum terms to
Failures that led to killing
By Richard Osley and Mairi MacDonald - Camden New
Thursday 7th October 2004
Killer Thomas McDowell was told by a judge on
Thursday morning that he may never be freed from prison for the slaying
of German trainee rabbi Andreas Hinz.
The 37-year-old’s body was found sawn-up, stuffed
into black bags and dumped in St Pancras Way, Camden Town, in July 2002.
But, despite the gruesome nature of the case, there
will not be a ‘Camden Ripper-style’ inquiry into the care and housing of
father-of-two McDowell, 27, a child abuse victim suffering from a
dangerous personality disorder described in court as “untreatable”.
The North London Strategic Health Authority and
Camden Council, currently running a behind-closed-doors probe into care
and treatment received by serial murderer Anthony Hardy, the murderer
who lived half-a-mile from McDowell jailed last year for the killing of
three vice girls, yesterday (Wednesday) were unable to confirm any
involvement with Mr Hinz’s killer.
The New Journal has learned that drug addicts
targeted vulnerable residents living in the block of flats where Mr
Hinz’s body was sliced into six parts with a razor blade and a saw.
Detectives, meanwhile, have begun trawling missing
person databases and checking unsolved cases for people who may have
come into contact with McDowell, originally from Ballymena, Northern
Ireland. They have not ruled out the possibility that he may have struck
on other occasions.
Residents living in flats neighbouring McDowell’s
former home at Caulfield Court in Baynes Street, Camden Town – the
murder scene – said the block had a past plagued by junkies and crime.
One said an all-hours crack house was operating from
the building until it was finally shut down by police six months ago.
Current tenants quizzed by the New Journal this week
said the block still had an uneviable reputation.
Former train driver Nigel Newman, 52, said: “People
think that if you live here you must be up to something. One of the
flats was a crack house. It didn’t bother me but other people in the
block got annoyed with everyone coming in. And there were always people
trying to get in.”
Another resident, Neil Carroll, 46, added: “People
used to come around ringing all the buzzers all day and night. I ended
up turning my buzzer off at night. People would come round and say they
had forgotten their keys and get let in and end up taking drugs in the
Caulfield Court, managed by the Irish Centre Housing
Limited, was built a decade ago and officially opened by then Irish
President Mary Robinson.
Camden Council lost nomination rights to rooms after
a dispute over interviews for places. Several of the residents are
working to get their lives back on track after relationship breakdowns,
homelessness or alcohol addiction.
Antonia Watson, Director of Irish Centre Housing
Limited, last night (Wednesday) denied there had been a crack house at
She said: “Improvements have been made. Most of the
tenants that live there now are new.
“It is permanent accommodation, referred from other
agencies. There was nothing that we could have done to prevent this
awful case. Thomas McDowell would have been interviewed but there was no
history of violence. There were no signs. I do not know whether he was
taking any medication. He was only with us for a short time, about four
months. It has been upsetting for tenants and staff and our thoughts go
out to Andreas Hinz’s family.”
McDowell was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on
Thursday to a “whole life sentence” for the murder – effectively a ‘life
means life’ jail term.
His devastated mother, Linda Hamilton, who lives in
Northern Ireland, where McDowell was brought up, immediately told of her
horror at the news that her son, may never be released from custody.
She told the Belfast Telegraph: “It is very difficult
to know what to say to him. I will just be telling him that he is still
my child and that I love him, whatever he has done.”
The trial heard Mr Hinz, a gifted and popular student,
had been strangled before his body had been cut up with a razor and a
rip-saw, borrowed from a drop-in centre.
Passing sentence, Judge Geoffrey Rivlin, QC, told
McDowell: “I do not know whether it will ever be thought safe to release
you into the community.”
The defendant admitted killing Mr Hinz, of Windermere
Road, Finchley, after the two men had gone back to McDowell’s flat
following a fateful meeting in the popular gay pub The Black Cap in
Camden High Street, Camden Town.
But although pleading guilty to manslaughter, he
denied, on mental health grounds, the more serious charge of murder,
leading to a two-week jury trial, which heard how he was badly abused as
a boy and had gone through spells of drug abuse, homelessness and mental
The court heard how McDowell talked about sleeping on
his mother’s grave, even though she is still alive and still in contact
with her son.
Mrs Hamilton said: “Thomas would never even have
killed a fly when he was younger. The only way he could have done it is
through illness. My son is not a monster.”
But leading psychiatrist Dr Philip French, from St
Mary’s Hospital, told the murder trial: “If McDowell is a controlled
psychotic who deliberately lured Hinz to his flat and to his death then
his responsibility is not diminished. I believe he is that controlled
psychotic who did lure Hinz to his death and meant to kill him.”
Known by the nickname ‘Tonto’ as a boy, in recent
months he signed off letters from prison by the more sinister moniker,
“Tommy The Hacksaw”.
After a jury had taken just three hours to dismiss
McDowell’s case, Judge Rivlin, QC, said: “No one could fail to
sympathise with the fact that you had an appalling childhood, during
which you were badly abused by a man who was subsequently sent to prison
for that abuse.”
But he added: “I must also have regard to the
appalling consequences of this crime in which you needlessly robbed a
young, gifted, kind and gentle man of his life and devastated his family
and friends. The jury have had no difficulty in agreeing that you are
and were a controlled psychopath and that you present a very great and
continuing danger to those who happen to come into contact with you, in
particular homosexuals as Mr Hinz was.”
McDowell, emotionless in the dock during sentencing,
was taken to Rampton Hospital where he will serve the first part of his
A gifted, kind and gentle man
ONE of the closest confidants of
murder victim Andreas Hinz has appealed for friends and relatives to be
left to mourn in peace, writes Richard Osley.
Rabbi Michael Shire, vice-principal of the Leo Baeck
College in Finchley, where Mr Hinz was studying, said: “His loss will
continue to be felt by fellow students, faculty and congregants alike.
The loss to his family is inestimable.”
Rabbi Shire added that the court case had been a
harrowing reminder of the events of July 2002.
Andreas Jonathan Hinz spent much of his time with his
head buried in a book, studying literature and religious tracts. It was
to become a lifetime obsession.
A high achiever at Wuppertal University in Germany
during the 1980s, the young Mr Hinz became known for his meticulous
approach to theological studies and his investigations into hidden
meanings buried in ancient texts, which had rarely been discussed before.
His pain-staking work led him to research his own
family tree, during which he learned he had Jewish ancestors. Soon after
this discovery, he decided to follow Judaism and became a familiar face
in the European branch of the Union of Progressive Jews.
He would regularly organise trips for followers under
the ‘Young and Jewish’ project which has strong membership in Germany,
Austria and Switzerland and, although often described as a quiet,
unassuming man, was known for his passionate, confident lectures at
Mr Hinz was in his late-20s when in 1993 he helped
form two firms in Osnabruck, Germany. One was a marketing group but the
more successful, Secolo-Verlag, is a book publishing firm which has won
awards for design and presentation. Mr Hinz ensured a share of the books
were on Judaism and the firm is still well-respected in Germany’s high-brow
theological and literature circles.
But friends and colleagues say Mr Hinz was unable to
be wholly satisfied with his work at Secolo because of a burning desire
to become more involved in his religion and, in 2000, he came to England
to begin his training to become a rabbi at the Leo Baeck College, close
to his rented home in Windermere Avenue.
Openly gay, Mr Hinz involved himself in London Jewish
Gay and Lesbian groups, members of which later attended his memorial
service. His sexuality was known within the college, and at the Belsize
Square Synagogue in Belsize Park where Mr Hinz was attached.
His connection with the Synagogue saw him continue
his lectures on Wednesday nights, drawing healthy audiences with his
lively and warm teaching style.
Mr Hinz was 37 and in his second year of his
rabbinical training when he was murdered.
Killer of trainee rabbi gets life
Thursday, 30 September, 2004
A psychopath who strangled and cut up a gay trainee rabbi with a ripsaw
has been jailed for the rest of his life.
Thomas McDowell, 27, throttled Andreas Hinz, then
dumped his head, limbs and torso in bin bags in Camden, north London.
The body parts were found when the uncollected
rubbish attracted flies.
McDowell, born in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, was
told by the judge at Southwark Crown Court he remained a serious danger
to the public.
McDowell suffered abuse as a child and grew up hating
homosexuals, the court had been told.
He had admitted manslaughter on the grounds of
But on Wednesday, the jury found him guilty of
murdering Mr Hinz, a 27-year-old German national, on 3 July, 2002.
Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC told McDowell the only
appropriate sentence was one in which he would spend his whole life in
"You are a dangerous psychopath. There are no two
ways about it," he said.
Judge Rivlin accepted McDowell had suffered abuse at
the hands of a man who was later jailed.
He told McDowell it was not his fault he had
developed a serious personality disorder.
But he said McDowell remained a danger, particularly
"There are features of this case which, in my
judgment, make it one of the more serious and which, first and foremost,
calls for the protection of the public.
"I do not know whether it will ever be thought safe
to release you into the community," said Judge Rivlin, giving a "whole
McDowell was take from the court to Rampton High
Security Hospital, where he will serve the first part of his sentence in
the personality disorder unit.