Ireland was born in Dartford, Kent. His mother was only seventeen years old when she gave birth to him. His father left his mother shortly after he was born, resulting in him never knowing his identity and not being named on his birth certificate. Because of her poor financial conditions, Ireland's mother had to move several times with her son. Ireland's mother married again sometime in the early 1960s and placed her son under foster care after discovering that she was pregnant, but he later returned to her. It was during the 1960s that Ireland almost fell victim to a group of pedophiles. As a teenager, Ireland enjoyed setting fires, one such example would be when he set fire to a borstal inmate's belongings during his time there for theft. Years later, at age of 17, Ireland was convicted of robbery. As an adult, Ireland enlisted in the army and had a number of jobs, but was still involved in criminal activities, notably car theft, criminal damage and burglary, Ireland was convicted for his crimes in December 1975 and released in November 1976. Ireland was arrested many more times for other crimes, such as extortion and more robberies.
In 1982, he married a woman named Virginia Zammit, to whom he was initially a caring husband, to the point of gaining the nickname, "The Gentle Giant". They divorced five years later after Zammit found out that Ireland was cheating on her. In 1989, Ireland married another woman, Janet Young, whom he frequently abused and stole from. Ireland and Young divorced during the early 1990s, resulting in Ireland having to live in a hostel, but he later moved to a flat. There, Ireland decided to become a serial killer as a new year's resolution and to become famous, but not before meticulously studying serial killers; spending many hours reading about them and learning about geographic profiling in the process, and for this reason, deciding to commit his murders far away from his home, which would have at least five victims, because he had read that a person needs to have such body count to qualify as a serial killer. Because of its reputation in the gay community as a place to easily find a partner for the night, Ireland chose the Coleherne pub in Brompton Road, West London, to hunt for potential victims. Members of the pub would wear color-coded handkerchiefs to indicate their sexual proclivities, which would only make Ireland's "career" as a serial killer easier, as it would avoid misunderstandings.
Murders, Arrest, and Death
Posing as a dominant partner, Ireland began looking for victims at the pub. Not long after entering the pub, Ireland was approached by Peter Walker, a choreographer and submissive partner. They both left the pub together and went to Walker's apartment. There, Walker allowed Ireland to gag with condoms and bind him with a cord. Walker was brutally beaten by Ireland, who used a dog lead and a belt to torture him before suffocating him to death with a plastic bag. After killing him, Ireland took some of Walker's pubic hair and burned it, just so he could smell it. Ireland then began cleaning the apartment and removing any object that could be connected to him. During the process of cleaning the apartment, Ireland discovered that Walker was HIV positive, which enraged him, resulting in him pushing a condom into Walker's mouth. Ireland left the apartment the next day, leaving two teddy bears in a "69" position next to Walker's body.
Ireland disposed of the clothes used in the murder by throwing them out of a train window. As a way to lead authorities to the crime scene, he called the Samaritans to inform them that he had locked Walker's dogs in a room. Police eventually discovered the body but assumed it was the result of an S&M game gone wrong. Two months later, Ireland returned to the pub and met a librarian named Christopher Dunn, who invited Ireland to his flat. Ireland repeated the process of tying, handcuffing, beating and torturing his victim, even going as far as to hold a lighter flame to Dunn's testicles before suffocating him by stuffing pieces of cloth into his mouth. After killing him, Ireland used Dunn's PIN and bank cash card he had acquired earlier to withdraw 200$ from his account in order to fund his crimes due to being unemployed. Dunn's body was discovered days later by a friend, and again, police assumed Dunn's death was the result of a sex game gone wrong, resulting in them not linking Walker's and Dunn's deaths.
Six days later, Ireland returned to the pub and met a businessman named Perry Bradley. Ireland accompanied Bradley to his apartment and though initially reluctant, Bradley allowed Ireland to tie him. Ireland then placed a noose around Bradley's neck and demanded his PIN and cash card, threatening to torture him if he did not comply. Bradley gave Ireland his PIN and offered to accompany him to the cash point, to which he refused. After killing Bradley and cleaning his apartment, he stole 100$ and left a doll on Bradley's dead body before leaving the apartment and withdrawing 200$ from Bradley's account. Once again, police did not link the murders, which frustated Ireland. Only three days later, returned to the pub and found his next victim, a warden named Andrew Collier, At Collier's flat, Ireland tied Collier and demanded his PIN and cash card, but he refused to comply, which enraged Ireland, who strangled him to death. Again, Ireland discovered that another one of his victims was HIV positive, enraging him even more and resulting in him burning Collier's body and placing a condom on his penis; Ireland also strangled Collier's cat and stuffed another condom on his tail. After cleaning the apartment and stealing 70$, Ireland left Collier's flat the next morning.
Police soon found Collier's body and due to the strange use of condoms, linked his death to Walker's and also found a set of fingerprints that Ireland had forgot to wipe off. Five days later, Ireland made a call to the police, claiming that he had killed four men and they had to stop him. Later, Ireland called another police department, asking why they stopped investigating Walker's death. That same day, Ireland returned to the pub a final time to search for his fifth victim, meeting a Maltese chef named Emanuel Spiteri. At Spiteri's flat, Ireland handcuffed him and demanded his PIN and cash card before strangling him to death. Wanting more attention, Ireland attempted to set fire to the flat, but only managed to damage the bedroom. Ireland called the police once again, but this time to inform them that he would stop killing, as he had killed five victims, which allegedly meant that, according to the FBI, he was now a serial killer. With the help of many professionals, such as retired FBI agent Robert Ressler, the fingerprint they had found earlier and a train's security camera showing Ireland with Spiteri at night of his murder, police managed to capture Ireland. He was charged with the five murders and sentenced to life imprisonment. Ireland died on February 21, 2012, at age of 57, due to a pulmonary fibrosis.
According to Ireland, he targeted homosexual men because they were "easy targets". He would meet them at a gay club and then accompanied them to their houses. He would also bring a "Murder Kit" with him, containing knives, cords, gloves and a change of clothes. At the victims' houses, they would be tied, handcuffed, and sometimes beaten or tortured before being killed by either strangulation or suffocation. Ireland would learn their PIN and acquire their cash cards in the process. Afterward, Ireland would clean the house to remove evidence and then steal any money he could find. Ireland would then stay in the house for hours in order to not raise suspicions with the neighbors and sometimes leave toys in obscene positions close to his victims' bodies as a signature. When enraged, Ireland would use condoms to humiliate his victims' bodies even more.
Psychologists suggested that the killer was a large-built and physically strong man who was not a homosexual himself, but posing as one; they also believed that he was not killing homosexuals as an act of revenge due to a possible sexually transmitted disease, but because he was fueled by sadistic fantasies. Criminologist David Wilson stated that Ireland was a pure psychopath suffering from Antisocial Personality Disorder.
- March 8: Peter Walker, 45 (beaten, tortured, and suffocated with a plastic bag; had a condom stuffed into his mouth post-mortem)
- May 28: Christopher Dunn, 37 (beaten, tortured, and suffocated with pieces of cloth)
- June 4: Perry Bradley lll, 35 (strangled with a noose)
- June 7: Andrew Collier, 33 (strangled with a noose; had his body burned post-mortem)
- June 12: Emanuel Spiteri, 41 (strangled with a noose)
On Criminal Minds
While Ireland has yet to be mentioned or referenced on the show, he appears to have been an inspiration for the following unsubs:
- Steven Fitzgerald ("In Heat") - Both were serial killers who targeted homosexual men, killed their victims with a similar M.O., and robbed their victims after killing them. Both also killed at least one person involved with law enforcement.
- The Hollow Man ("The Last Word") - Both were serial killers who started killing as a way to gain fame, and were enraged when the press did not gave them attention or when their murders were being seen as unconnected.
- Mark Tolson ("A Good Husband") - Both were serial killers who targeted homosexual men, found their victims in gay bars, and tortured them before killing them.