“I did it for fun, it was easy.”
These were the words the solicitor who defended “Wales’ worst serial killer” heard when Peter Moore finally confessed to his crimes in the early hours of Christmas Eve 1995.
Moore – now serving a whole-life sentence at Wakefield Prison in West Yorkshire – stabbed to death four men in north Wales during the autumn of that year, in “sexually-motivated attacks”.
He is also thought to have carried out at least 20 beatings with clubs and police truncheons in the two decades previously.
From his arrest that December up until his trial at Mold Crown Court in November 1996, he was represented by former Abergele solicitor Dylan Rhys Jones.
Mr Jones believes Moore is the most manipulative person he has ever come across in his career, changing his story to toy with the police, “like a cat with a mouse”, and even sending Mr Jones a Christmas card from prison.
Twenty-five years on, Mr Jones feels the time is now right to detail the investigation and the personal toll it took on him.
The things he saw and heard over that year left him needing counselling and he believes Moore was a factor in his decision to give up practising law.
He said it was not an easy decision to write the book describing his experience: The Man in Black – Peter Moore: Wales’ Worst Serial Killer.
“Years after Moore was sentenced I’d have dreams and images of walking down a street at night and being stabbed, hearing in my head the way Moore calmly described what he’d done, almost with relish. I agonised over whether to write this, but ultimately decided it was something I had to do.
“What I’ve been through is nothing compared to the families of the victims, but it did cause me to have a breakdown some 10 years later, and writing the book has been helpful in my recovery.”
Between September and December 1995, Moore murdered 56-year-old Henry Roberts at his home near Caergeiliog, Anglesey, Edward Carthy, 28, who Moore met in a gay bar in Liverpool before stabbing him in Clocaenog Forest near Ruthin, Denbighshire, and 49-year-old Keith Randles, a traffic manager from Chester, who was killed where he was living on-site at roadworks on the A5 in Anglesey.
His final victim – the one who would lead to Moore’s arrest – was Anthony Davies, 40, stabbed and left to die on Pensarn Beach near Abergele, a locally-known meeting place for gay men.
Born in 1946, Moore, dubbed the “man in black” owing to his distinctive dress sense, owned a chain of cinemas across north Wales.
He was described as a quiet and well-respected – if not a little eccentric – member of the community.
However, searches of his house after his arrest revealed Nazi paraphernalia, along with an authentic North Wales Police sergeant’s uniform and truncheon, the source of which has never been identified.
Moore said he would dress in either the police or Nazi uniforms when heading out to attack someone, “just to scare them a little bit more”.
When prosecuting barrister Alex Carlile QC opened the case against Moore he called him: “The man in black – black thoughts and the blackest of deeds.”
However, Mr Jones believes too much has been made of Moore’s Nazi sympathies.
“The black clothing thing came about genuinely enough, as the best colour to wear not to stand out while working as a projectionist in a cinema, but once it became something he was known for he played up to it.
“The police and Nazi uniforms were just an extension of that really. Coincidentally, both Moore and his first victim Henry Roberts had a shared interest in Nazi memorabilia, and what with the items found in Moore’s house, an assumption grew that there was some sort of far-right motivation.
“But I never got the impression he was in the least bit interested in politics – we’re not talking about some kind of Anders Breivik character – the uniforms and dressing up were just part of the fetishistic, sexually-motivated attacks.”
Moore first came on to the police’s radar after an anonymous tip linked a van matching a description of his to Pensarn Beach around the time of Anthony Davies’s murder.
Analysis of the crime scene revealed two people’s blood – Moore had made the mistake which would lead to his capture.
In stabbing Mr Davies, Moore had cut himself and left his own blood on the pebbles.
He was arrested on 22 December 1995 and initially denied everything, but after a search of his home uncovered some of the victims’ belongings in his garden pond, along with a knife in a bag bearing traces of all four men’s blood, he changed his story in the early hours of Christmas Eve.
“I’d previously had some dealings with Moore – I handled his mother’s estate after her death – but I was still surprised to get a call to come and represent him at Llandudno police station,” said Mr Jones.
“At first he said it was mistaken identity and we went through two days of interviews on that basis, but in the early hours of Christmas Eve I got a call to come back to the station because Moore wanted to tell us something.
“When he started talking in the interview room it was like watching a cold-blooded lizard move towards its prey, slowly, calculating every move, not using its energy unnecessarily, just describing the bare essentials of the deed. It was the desensitised description of a killer dispassionate as to the implications of his actions.”
Yet the following morning, just a few hours later, Moore withdrew his confession.
He claimed he had given it to protect “the real murderer”, his lover, whom he called Jason, the name of the killer in the Friday the 13th films Moore had shown at his cinemas.
No trace of Jason was ever found, nevertheless Moore stuck to his story and pleaded not guilty at his trial.
“You have to represent your client on the basis of what they tell you, but even so, it was the toughest case I’ve ever been involved in.
“I knew Peter Moore was a manipulative individual, Alex Carlile knew it, the police knew it.
“When I contacted Moore about this book, first of all he said he’d co-operate, then he withdrew his visiting order, then my wife opens a Christmas card from him… he seems to be trying to manipulate people and circumstances, even after 24 years in prison.”
Handing down four life sentences, the trial judge told Moore: “You were responsible for four sadistic murders in the space of three months; none of the victims had done you the slightest bit of harm.
“At no stage have you shown the slightest remorse or regret for the killings, nor for the 20 years of terror and violence that preceded them.
“I consider you to be as dangerous a man as it is possible to find. I shall have to report to the secretary of state, advising him of my view as to the earliest date that you should be considered for release.
“I don’t want you or anybody else to be in the slightest doubt as to what I shall say. In a word: never.”
Moore has unsuccessfully appealed his whole-life tariff at the European Court of Human Rights.
Mr Jones believes no-one will ever know how many men Moore actually attacked, or why.
“Maybe because of the death of the mother, who coddled him so much, or because of some other life-changing event, Moore switched in 1995 from savagely beating men to killing them in the most terrible fashion.
“We’ll never know quite how many, mainly because Moore himself manipulates the story to keep interest in him alive.”
There is one part of Moore’s confession which sticks out in Mr Jones’s memory, more than all the rest.
“He told us how he spotted a man he wanted to kill while driving around Llangefni, but couldn’t stop because of the one-way system. By the time he came back to the same spot the man had gone.
“Firstly, I am astonished by the mind of a man who obeys a one-way sign but thinks nothing of murder and secondly, that the man – whoever he was – will never know just how lucky he was.”
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