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Criminologist David Wilson - Y'all's Thoughts?

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  • Criminologist David Wilson - Y'all's Thoughts?

    Criminologist David Wilson seems searingly orthodox/ first year criminology-textbook-y. Has anyone found any of his programmes and pronouncements enlightening or just playing-it-safe/nothing-new-here?

  • #2
    The only things I've ever seen him on are banal morning chat show type formats which is hardly the type of programming that would lend itself to great in-depth analysis. I thought his analysis of Dennis Nilsen was interesting, seeing as how he'd actually known and spoken to him. I don't have much admiration for criminologist talking heads in general. I prefer him to people like John Douglas whose accounts are so full of self-aggrandizing bullshit as to make him lack credibility, but that could just be because I am more familiar with John Douglas and his BS that he spouts than I am with Wilson due to nationality and public exposure.

    I haven't heard Wilson say anything out and out bullsheet like I have heard from Douglas but again, I've heard less from Wilson.

    Let all Oz be agreed;
    I need a better class of flying monkeys.

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    • #3
      'Searingly orthodox' matches my assessment of Wilson. To be fair, Wilson does research his topics thoroughly but I find his commentaries banal, spiced up with pseudo-scientific language. As a Scot myself I have an aversion to Wilson's slightly condescending, 'Teacher's Pet' manner of speaking but that is purely a matter of personal taste.

      His professional judgment can be called into question over the 'Bible John' case, a series of unsolved murders in late 1960s Glasgow. Years later Peter Tobin emerged as a strong suspect and Wilson and others laid out a decent argument to claim that Tobin was in fact 'Bible John.' However Wilson went further, saying that he would stake his professional reputation on Tobin being Bible John. This was surely a poor call since Tobin was clearly younger at the time than the man identified as being with the victims prior to their death, was not in Glasgow at the time of one murder, and his DNA would have been matched against what fragments of DNA had survived over the years.

      I think Wilson has a good conceit of himself, likes the sound of his own voice and knows that offering opinions on Bible John and Tobin is a gateway to TV studios.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Ally View Post
        The only things I've ever seen him on are banal morning chat show type formats which is hardly the type of programming that would lend itself to great in-depth analysis. I thought his analysis of Dennis Nilsen was interesting, seeing as how he'd actually known and spoken to him. I don't have much admiration for criminologist talking heads in general. I prefer him to people like John Douglas whose accounts are so full of self-aggrandizing bullshit as to make him lack credibility, but that could just be because I am more familiar with John Douglas and his BS that he spouts than I am with Wilson due to nationality and public exposure.

        I haven't heard Wilson say anything out and out bullsheet like I have heard from Douglas but again, I've heard less from Wilson.
        lol bingo on Douglas. dude thinks hes solved everything from the ripper to green river killer. what a wind bag.
        its the fbi database that solves cases, not blow hard profilers like douglas.
        "Is all that we see or seem
        but a dream within a dream?"

        -Edgar Allan Poe


        "...the man and the peaked cap he is said to have worn
        quite tallies with the descriptions I got of him."

        -Frederick G. Abberline

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        • #5
          His picking Tobin as Bible John seems to indicate that either he doesn't do adequate research, or that he does the hard lifting of examining all the evidence and then either ignores it or twists it.

          To pick Tobin over John McInnes as the most likely to be Bible John is bizarre.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by barnflatwyngarde View Post
            His picking Tobin as Bible John seems to indicate that either he doesn't do adequate research, or that he does the hard lifting of examining all the evidence and then either ignores it or twists it.

            To pick Tobin over John McInnes as the most likely to be Bible John is bizarre.


            It seems that Tobin was in police custody at the time of one of the murders and with his wife in Brighton at the time of another of the murders.

            It appears also that he was in Brighton at the time of the third murder.

            His DNA is reported not to have matched the DNA sample recovered from the scene of one of the murders.

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            • #7
              I was trying to find out if Wilson was the first to propose Tobin as Bible John but in his book he says that in The Times in May 2007, Melanie Reid asked ‘Was Angelika’s Murderer the Infamous Bible John?’ So this might have been the first time it was suggested. In his book ‘Bible John On Trial,’ Nate Campbell claims that the three women were killed by two separate men. Angus Sinclair and Peter Tobin. (Sinclair’s in-laws lived over the road from Pat Docker believe though I have checked)

              The DNA extracted from Helen Puttock was too badly deteriorated to be of use by the time that Tobin had been suggested as a ‘possible’ suspect. After Wilson and Harrison’s book came out a woman called Julie Taylor came forward and said that she was certain that a smartly dressed man who had behaved in a threatening way toward her at the Barrowlands in the late 60’s was Tobin. Then another woman came forward and said that Tobin had assaulted her in there in 1968. We’re talking about 42 years later though. One interesting point was that Jeannie Langford said that she heard the man who was with Helen Puttock called himself something like “John Sempleson” and we know from Tobin’s wife that one of the names that he used at various times was John Semple. Interesting but nothing more.

              Although Jeannie Langford’s evidence has been questioned for various reasons she was shown a photograph of Tobin and was certain that he wasn’t the man that was with Helen that night. Tobin also had a noticeable scar under his left eye which no witness mentioned seeing. Tobin’s victims all tended to be younger too, apart from one (and she looked younger than she actually was) plus all of his known victims were stabbed and buried. Given where Tobin came from and the kind of person he was I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have him as a person of interest though.

              Tobin was married on the 6th August 1969 which was 10 days before Jemima McDonald was killed. In his book Nate Campbell asks who would have their honeymoon in the town where they were married? Tobin’s wife though (who Campbell criticises heavily) said that Tobin was with her until he was arrested for burglary on the 20th which, if true, clears him of McDonald’s murder. But again we’re looking back a long time so perhaps she could have been mistaken?

              I’d be interested to know if Wilson still stood by his opinion. I can’t see why he was so confident in Tobin that he’d stake his reputation on it.

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              • #8
                I’d be interested to know if Wilson still stood by his opinion. I can’t see why he was so confident in Tobin that he’d stake his reputation on it.Well, he had a book to sell. Tobin also snubbed Wilson when the criminologist attempted to make contact and interview him in prison. So that decision by Tobin probably put the kybosh on a book Wilson was hoping to write.

                One of Wilson's so-called pieces of evidence against Tobin is that the conversation the murderer had with a hitch hiker victim was uncannily like the reported conversation Bible John had in the taxi with his last victim. Wilson, who attended Tobin's trial, called this a 'Eureka' moment. I can't see that myself. The hitch hiker had been at some pop festival and Tobin merely remarked that the Cambridge Folk Festival was more his scene. To Wilson this screamed out a sense of social superiority such as had been exhibited by Bible John. The fact that Tobin maybe just liked folk music was not considered.

                Another piece of Wilson 'evidence' concerns the John Semple alias sometimes used by Tobin. It is indeed very like the name remembered by the last victim's sister when she was in the taxi. An astonishing coincidence according to Wilson, yet that information had been in the public domain for many years. Wilson, never slow to make claims about serial killers, does not seem to have considered that Tobin might have chosen the alias as some kind of tasteless tribute to the man known as Bible John.

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                • #9
                  ''I’d be interested to know if Wilson still stood by his opinion. I can’t see why he was so confident in Tobin that he’d stake his reputation on it.''


                  Well, he had a book to sell. Tobin also snubbed Wilson when the criminologist attempted to make contact and interview him in prison. So that decision by Tobin probably put the kybosh on a book Wilson was hoping to write.

                  One of Wilson's so-called pieces of evidence against Tobin is that the conversation the murderer had with a hitch hiker victim was uncannily like the reported conversation Bible John had in the taxi with his last victim. Wilson, who attended Tobin's trial, called this a 'Eureka' moment. I can't see that myself. The hitch hiker had been at some pop festival and Tobin merely remarked that the Cambridge Folk Festival was more his scene. To Wilson this screamed out a sense of social superiority such as had been exhibited by Bible John. The fact that Tobin maybe just liked folk music was not considered.

                  Another piece of Wilson 'evidence' concerns the John Semple alias sometimes used by Tobin. It is indeed very like the name remembered by the last victim's sister when she was in the taxi. An astonishing coincidence according to Wilson, yet that information had been in the public domain for many years. Wilson, never slow to make claims about serial killers, does not seem to have considered that Tobin might have chosen the alias as some kind of tasteless tribute to the man known as Bible John.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Addition to my previous post: according to Campbell the police looked into Tobin as Bible John sometime in the 90’s.


                    Wilson did end up writing his book on the case (with Paul Harrison) by the way called The Lost British Serial Killer: Closing The Case on Peter Tobin and Bible John.

                    He basically points to the following as pointers to Tobin’s guilt:


                    He was a serial killer.

                    He was from Glasgow.

                    He was ‘religious.’

                    He was known to frequent dancehalls. He met his 1st and 3rd wives in one.

                    The Semple/Sempleson point.

                    He looks similar to the Bible John photofits. (There are no photographs of Tobin from that time.)

                    Both were ‘commuting’ serial killers.

                    Both used items belonging to the victims as ligatures.


                    (In his book, written after Wilson’s, Nate Campbell adds:

                    “Among his extended family of Tobin’s in Bathgate there had been a relative, probably an older cousin, called Daniel Tobin. This is the Daniel Tobin who pitches up at 19 MacKeith Street, Glasgow in the 1960s.”

                    Jemima McDonald lived at number 15 MacKeith Street.


                    There are issues though. Three witnesses from the Barrowlands (including Jeannie Langford) said that Bible John was around 6ft tall - Tobin was 5ft 9. They said that he had fair or reddish hair but Tobin’s wife said that his hair was brown or dark brown at the time. Witnesses also said that BJ was around 25-35 but Tobin was only 22 at the time. Tobin also had a scar down the side of his left eye which no one mentioned seeing. Wilson puts this down to poor lighting. Wilson also points out that the bouncers who saw BJ (and who were sober) said that he was shorter than 6ft and that he had brown or dark brown hair which is closer to a description of Tobin.


                    A final coincidence? When Tobin was arrested he had in his possession a cap badge for The Royal Electrical And Mechanical Engineers. He had no connection to this regiment but it was the regiment of Helen Puttock’s husband.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Nate Campbell must have researched the case well to have turned up a connection between a Bathgate relative of Tobin who was connected to MacKeith Street in the 1960s. But it seems like no more than a coincidence. Jemima McDonald was accompanied out of the dance hall, presumably by her killer, whose description was in line with the famous BJ photofit. It would have been fortuitous in the extreme for Tobin to have picked up a victim who just happened to live a few doors down from a cousin. And it would have been reckless for Tobin to kill and dump the body so close to where his cousin lived. I assume there is no evidence pointing to Tobin being in contact with this presumed cousin.

                      The bouncers' description- not in line with the BJ photofit- is one of the frustrating elements of the case. After all it's a bouncer's job to keep a watchful eye on proceedings and commit to memory anyone who looks like trouble. So why did the police apparently dismiss their description of BJ? Could it be that the bouncers mixed up the two men called 'John' who came to their attention during the argument over the cigarette machine? The taxi driver- clearly sober as well- would presumably have been the best witness of all. Do we know what description he gave to the police?

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                      • #12
                        One issue for me about the family connection is when Campbell said “probably an older cousin.” Makes me wonder how certain this link actually was? I’m not sure how common the name Tobin is so could Campbell be doing a bit of assuming? I don’t know.

                        Campbell tends to take the approach that the witnesses cannot be trusted because they were defending the memory of the victims. Jeannie Langford did admit to being drunk too. He suggests that McDonald might have been engaging in prostitution and that the possibility of extra-marital sex might have been involved with the others. He points out that McDonald was an unmarried, jobless mother of three who had been out three consecutive nights before she was killed. The derelict building next to where she was found was well known as a haunt of prostitutes and apparently Campbell found out that after McDonald had been identified the first place the police went to was a brothel on Duke Street. I don’t know where he got this from. I could do with a re-read to be honest. We could do with the police releasing all the relevant documents. When reading about this case you get a fair bit of “a witness said…” without actually naming the witness.

                        I think the police gave greater weight to any witness that was in line with the evidence of Jeannie Langford who was with a guy who came to be known as Castlemilk John (never identified) as Helen was with ‘Bible John,’ in Barrowlands and then in the taxi.

                        As far as the taxi driver goes I think that Campbell and other authors state that the taxi driver wasn’t identified but I seem to recall him being named in the BBC Podcast with Audrey Gillen (well worth a listen if you haven’t already heard it) I’m fairly certain that the officers doing a cold case investigation showed the taxi driver a photograph of John Irvine McInnes and he said that it was the guy in the taxi with Helen Puttock. I think that someone else ID’d McInnes too? I could really do with that re-read. I think that I have pretty much all the books connected to the case by now except the first one which you can only get for around 75! There’s still one of them I haven’t read though, called Bible John’s Secret Daughter. The title puts me off but I’ll get around to it.

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                        • #13
                          Jeannie Langford's alcohol intake is another of these areas that remains unclear. Initially she said to police that she was drunk- although this might just have been a loose self-description that people often use. In later years she was adamant that she was not drunk and since the dance hall served no alcohol she had over two hours in a sweaty atmosphere to sweat off her previous intake.

                          Beattie set great store by her description, maybe more than was helpful. When Jeannie was shown a coloured version of the first BJ artist impression she almost collapsed since it was so like the man in the taxi: yet a b/w copy of this artist's impression (made after the McDonald murder) had been pinned up in the dance hall for a few weeks and Jeannie made no connection between it and the man in her company. Neither apparently did the bouncers, despite best the efforts of BJ to draw attention to himself in a dispute over a cigarette machine. It would have taken some nerve for a killer to return to his previous hunting ground when there was a good likeness to him sticking up on the wall of the foyer.

                          I suspect that although Jeannie's account of the chat in the taxi will be reliable, perhaps she was merging the two 'John's' in her physical description of BJ.

                          If the cold case detectives are right about the taxi driver identifying McInnes from a photo- years later- then was the driver ever given the opportunity to ID McInnes in a line-up?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            That was my thinking too on the question of how drunk she was. I’ve read a suggestion somewhere that some people sometimes sneaked alcohol into the venue, which wouldn’t surprise me, but it’s still an unknown and, as you say, if she didn’t have anything to drink there then 2 hours of sweaty dancing followed by hitting that cold, late October Glasgow air wouldn’t have left her too drunk.

                            There was some suggestion that Beattie might have got a little too ‘close’ to Jeannie but there’s no evidence for it as far as I’m aware. He did give her a different name though….she was Williams to the Press but maybe it was it her own request if she didn’t want anyone to know that she’d been to the Barrowlands on what was known as a grab-a-granny night?

                            To be honest I can’t remember all the details about the taxi driver but I’m sure that he never saw McInnes in aline up. As soon as I have time I’ll do some re-reading and I’d like to listen to the podcast again because it was interesting to hear what the detectives said. They appeared to be of the opinion the McInnes was in the taxi but he wasn’t Bible John. That said, the DNA question doesn’t appear conclusive.

                            I’ve just read the relevant section of a book called Beyond The Tape by Dr Mary Cassidy who was Forensic Pathologist for The Crown at McInnes exhumation. She said that initially McInnes siblings provided swabs to check against the semen stains on Helen Puttock’s clothing. The results showed enough similarities to proceed with the investigation into McInnes which in turn led to the exhumation. She said: “The remains were removed to the mortuary and bone samples were taken, the best source of material for DNA analyses given the time frame. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, the laboratory could not get a full profile and the results were described as inconclusive.”

                            So it wasn’t that there was no DNA match. It was just inconclusive. So John Irvine McInnes hasn’t been exonerated.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post

                              I’m fairly certain that the officers doing a cold case investigation showed the taxi driver a photograph of John Irvine McInnes and he said that it was the guy in the taxi with Helen Puttock.

                              So am I.

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