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A.K.A.: "The Beast of Belfast"
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Serial rapist - Dismemberment
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: September 25, 2005
Date of arrest: 4 days after
Date of birth: 1957
Victim profile: Rochelle Holness, 15
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: London, England, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on May 15, 2006

Missing girl is found dismembered

BBC News

Friday, 30 September 2005

The dismembered body of a missing teenager has been found dumped near a stairwell on a housing estate.

Officers found the body of Rochelle Holness, 15, at Milford Towers, Catford, south London, on Wednesday. It is thought she had been abducted.

Police were alerted by ambulance crews who had been called to reports a man had injured himself. Police found body parts in bin bags outside the flats.

A man and woman, both aged 47, are being questioned by police.

Distraught family and friends have taken flowers to the scene, which is behind a police cordon, and forensic experts have been seen leaving with evidence bags.

Officers have also been carrying out door-to-door inquiries.

Rochelle, from Lewisham, south London, was last seen at about 1900 BST on Sunday after saying she was going to call her boyfriend from a phone box on the Milford Towers estate.

When she failed to return home that night her parents assumed she was staying with friends.

It was only when her boyfriend called on Monday, to say he had not heard from her, that they became concerned.

She was reported missing on Tuesday and her body found the next day.

A post-mortem examination was carried out on Thursday.

Det Supt Paul McAleenan said: "At this early stage, it is not clear when Rochelle was killed.

'Petty theft'

"I want to hear from anyone who was in the area at any time from Sunday evening to the early hours of Wednesday."

Residents on the estate said there is regular trouble in the area.

Christine Stewart, 40, has lived there for ten years, but plans to leave as soon as her son goes to secondary school.

"It is not a nice area," she said. "There is lots of petty theft and my neighbour next door was burgled.

"She found somebody in her house and the woman the other end was burgled at the same time.

"It is a pretty nasty area - you just lock your doors and windows and hope no one bothers you."


Man admits murdering teenage girl

BBC News

Wednesday, 12 April 2006

A man has pleaded guilty to murdering a 15-year-old girl whose dismembered body was found dumped on a housing estate.

John McGrady, 48, of Milford Towers, Catford, south London, carried out the attack on Rochelle Holness last September, the Old Bailey heard.

She vanished after going out to call her boyfriend from a phone box near her home in Lewisham, south London.

Her body was found in bin bags near a stairwell on the Milford Towers estate. McGrady will be sentenced on 15 May.

Her attacker was said to be a heavy-drinking handyman with previous convictions for rape and false imprisonment.

The 48-year-old was remanded in custody at the Old Bailey and warned he would receive a life sentence at the next hearing.

Detective Inspector Tim Grattan-Kane said: "John McGrady is an absolute danger to any young woman, a spectacularly dangerous and violent man who when a desire befalls him he decides to inflicted it on innocent victims.

'He is prepared to use outrageous violence to achieve his ends."

Anthony Orchard, prosecuting, said the court would require a psychiatric report before sentencing.

Supermarket trolley

Rochelle is thought to have been snatched at knifepoint from the phone box on a Sunday evening before being strangled and dismembered.

Her remains, placed in five bin bags and dumped in a supermarket trolley, were found by ambulance staff who had been called to the estate on 28 September 2005.

Rochelle had been missing for three days when McGrady cut his wrists and confessed to his girlfriend.

He was arrested after receiving treatment for minor cuts.

Rochelle's father Denroy stumbled across the murder scene while out searching for his daughter with other family members.

History of abductions

Mr Grattan-Kane said McGrady had a history of abducting women in the street and forcing them to do things at knifepoint.

In 1998, he was jailed for six years for raping and sexually assaulting two women he knew.

Five years earlier he had been in prison for five years for false imprisonment of a young woman he abducted at knifepoint as she came off a bus.

Mr Grattan-Kane said: "I am fairly confident Rochelle was dead within an hour of going into his flat."

He said Rochelle's family had been devastated.

"It is a nightmare no parents should have to face. She was her mum and dad's pride and joy and she was loved to bits by her brothers."


Killer who dismembered teenage victim sentenced to die in prison

By Vikram Dodd - The Guardian

Wednesday 17 May 2006

A suspected serial rapist who attacked women for over two decades was yesterday sentenced to die in jail after being convicted of murdering and dismembering a teenage girl. John McGrady was given a full life sentence for murdering 15-year-old Rochelle Holness on a south London council estate in September last year.

McGrady, 48, had been a sex offender for 22 years, with convictions for rape and indecent assault, before he butchered the teenager. Last night Rochelle's family called for a change in the law so that communities are told when serious sexual offenders are living among them.

McGrady, a former butcher, pounced on Rochelle as she used a call box to phone her boyfriend. He is believed to have abducted her and strangled her before dismembering her body with a hacksaw and placing the parts in five bin bags, which he left near a rubbish chute in Milford Towers, Catford, south London, where he lived.

Detectives fear McGrady is likely to have attacked women between his last release from prison in 1997 and his arrest last year. A police source told the Guardian it bordered on unbelievable that McGrady had not committed other offences in that period and victims were urged to come forward.

Rochelle's mother, Jennifer Bennett, shouted "Rot in hell" as McGrady was taken from the dock at the Old Bailey.

Judge Stephen Kramer told him: "You must have been motivated by a sexual desire and when you are drinking you are, and continue to be, a dangerous predator to women, especially young women.

"The sentence will ensure you will never have the opportunity to prey on young women again. You cruelly took the life of that young girl and left her family and her mother bereft."

A postmortem examination was unable to establish whether Rochelle had been sexually assaulted. A psychiatrist who examined McGrady concluded that a sexual motivation could not be discounted.

Rochelle lived with her mother and two brothers in Catford and was a sociable girl, studying for GCSEs. She left the flat after her mobile phone ran out of credit.

McGrady was caught after he confessed to a girlfriend in a note he left after he slashed his wrists in a failed suicide attempt. He had a long and violent criminal history, and was jailed for six years in 1988 after being convicted of raping two young women. In 1993 he was convicted of attempting to abduct a young woman at knifepoint and was jailed for five years, a relatively high sentence reflecting the belief that he was interrupted before he could sexually assault the woman.

But McGrady had also been acquitted of rape three times in 1984, telling juries the women had consented. In one case he had worn a balaclava and used a knife.

Ms Bennett and Rochelle's father, Denroy Holness, told the Guardian the criminal justice system had failed in McGrady's case. "We question why we do not have the right to know about these dangerous people living among us, until they have committed such dreadful acts." The so-called Sarah's law has previously been opposed by the police after it was championed by a tabloid newspaper, leading to attacks on sex offenders and innocent people.

Rochelle's parents, in a statement read outside court, said: "We hope these events send out a clear message to the country that sex offenders and murderers must in future be properly sentenced, treated and supervised on release, otherwise there will be many more victims. We pray that while serving his sentence, McGrady receives treatment so that he may truly take full responsibility for his actions and bring himself to explain why and how he did this to Rochelle."

The family criticised two tabloid newspapers which published lurid and false details about the case. The Sun wrongly claimed Rochelle had been strapped to a table then dismembered while still alive. The family has complained to the Press Complaints Commission and said the newspaper had been as cruel to them as the man who murdered their daughter. "We hope those responsible for causing us so much unnecessary pain will today feel the shame that has so far been absent; for their behaviour has been as inhumane as John McGrady's."

Outside court, Detective Inspector Tim Grattan-Kane branded McGrady "evil", and said: "He should not have been on the streets, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. There was nothing that would have given the judge the sentencing powers to keep him off the streets for ever."

The Home Office confirmed that McGrady had not been under supervision.

The sex offenders register was introduced just after he was released in 1997 and a spokesperson said measures had been introduced to protect the public from highly dangerous offenders, including "indeterminate public protection sentences, in which violent and sexual offenders can be held in custody for as long as is necessary".


Past catching up with 'Beast of Belfast'

June 11, 2006

Dertectives investigating the sordid past of Belfast-born sex killer John McGrady have spoken to the American woman who believes she was his first victim.

The woman is now considering an invitation by police to fly to London to make a statement about her identification of the Northern Ireland man as the scissors-wielding teenager who molested her in September 1976.

Sunday Life revealed last week how the woman identified McGrady after being shocked by a photograph of him accompanying recent reports of his conviction for the murder of teenager Rochelle Holness, who he cut into pieces with a hacksaw.

Her account tied in with revelations that in 1976 McGrady regularly travelled from his home in the Markets area of east Belfast to visit relatives in south London, including his brother Kevin, an IRA killer.

Detective Inspector Tim Grattan Kane, who had serial sex attacker McGrady caged for life for 15-year-old Rochelle's 2005 murder, said: "This woman is the first person to come forward since McGrady was sentenced and we are extremely grateful for having the opportunity to speak to her.

"We have had a very long conversation with her and we are now trying to find the original reports of this attack (in Clapham in September 1976).

"We are also hoping to find out if there was any forensic evidence left at this time.

"But now that this woman has come forward and provided us with an account of the man who attacked her, we hope it might persuade other women to come forward.

"We also can't pre-judge anything and our investigations into the woman's claims will continue.

"It may be a long time ago but if any woman believes she was attacked by someone resembling McGrady, then they should contact us immediately."

'Jennifer', now in her early 50s, had told Sunday Life how the creepy teenager broke into her Clapham flat in 1976 carrying a burlap mask, although she saw him before he had a chance to put it on.

McGrady's first conviction for a sex offence was in 1988, for the knife-point rape of two 19-year-old women.

But it has emerged that in 1984 he was acquitted of rape three times, telling London juries the women had consented to sex. In one case he had worn a balaclava and used a knife.

Sunday Life has spoken to a number of long-standing residents in the Markets area who said they were still "in shock" over the revelations that the "shy loner" they recalled had become a monster.

Said one resident: "He's been away for a very long time but there are still people in the area who remember him very well.

"It's not known if he attacked any women around the time he was here as nobody has come forward with any information."

Police say McGrady worked as an odd-job man and as a butcher for a time.

Latterly his life was marked by heavy drinking, and he did not stray far from the flat in Catford, London, where he murdered and dismembered tragic Rochelle.



Rochelle Holness, 15, the victim.



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