John Francis Duffy
John Duffy and friend David Mulcahy (born 1959) are two British rapists and serial killers who together attacked numerous women at railway
stations in the south of England all through the 1980s. They are also known as the Railway Rapists and the Railway Killers.
In 1982 a woman was raped by two men near Hampstead station and subsequently eighteen more were attacked over the next year. More
occurred through 1984 and then three were raped on the same night in 1985 in Hendon. Police set up an urgent workshop to try to find the
perpetrators, called Operation Hart.
The name of Duffy, a martial arts instructor, was touted as a suspect among thousands of other names as he was on the sex offenders
register following conviction for the rape of his wife. Rope found in his parents house linked him to the second murder victim. Mulcahy was
also questioned due to his close friendship with Duffy but victims were still traumatised and unable to pick him out of an identity line up.
Mulcahy was released for lack of evidence.
On December 29, 1985, Alison Day, 19, was dragged off a train at Hackney station by Duffy and Mulcahy and repeatedly raped. She was
then strangled with a piece of string.
This was the first time a victim had been killed. Police further stepped up their search for the attacker who had been coined by the press
as the Railway Rapist. The death of Alison Day changed this moniker to the Railway Killer, a tag reinforced by the rape and murder of
15-year-old Maartje Tamboezer in West Horsley in April 1986. As well as rape and strangulation, Maartje's body was set on fire. A month
later, local TV presenter Anne Locke, 29, was abducted and murdered as she dismounted a train in Brookmans Park, Hertfordshire.
Police brought in a psychologist from the University of Surrey, Dr. David Canter, to help their inquiries. There had been no previous use of
"psychological offender profiling" as it was known, but something fresh was required as three women had been murdered and numerous
more raped, with little progress being made. Canter examined the details of each crime and built up a profile of the attacker's personality,
habits and traits. While this continued, another attack took place as a 14-year-old girl was raped in a park (David Canter was a he has
become an acknowledge
woman in a secluded park, he was questioned also about the other rapes and murders, and the next day
charged on all counts. Police knew he had not committed the offences alone, but Duffy was not
forthcoming about his accomplice.
acquitted of raping and killing Anne Locke. He was given a minimum tariff of 30 years by the judge, later
extended to a whole life tariff by the Home Secretary. A European Court of Human Rights ruling later
removed the right of politicians to reset sentence tariffs, and so Duffy's stay in prison was reverted to the
original 30 years. He will be in prison until at least 2018 and the age of 69.
17 observations made about the attacker's lifestyle and habits. Such profiling became immediately
commonplace in policing thereafter.
although couldn't be re-tried for this under the double jeopardy rule.
However, Mulcahy - a married father of four - could still be implicated and following Duffy's claims, he was tracked for several months by
police prior to his arrest and DNA-tests (which were not yet in use during the original investigation) also proved his involvement
conclusively. In 2000, Duffy appeared at the Old Bailey as a witness against Mulcahy and gave detailed evidence over 14 days. It was the
first time a highest-category prisoner had ever given evidence against an accomplice.
Mulcahy emerged through the trial from prosecution evidence as the chief perpetrator and the first to decide that sexual stimulation
wasn't enough of a thrill any more, so turning to murder.
Mulcahy was convicted of three murders and seven rapes and handed 3 life sentences, with a 30-year recommendation. He was not later
given a whole life tariff, as the ruling barring politically-set tariffs had been made by the time his case was due for review.
Duffy was convicted of 17 more rapes and received a further 12 years. Neither man is expected to ever be released from prison alive.
Police suspect them of countless other sex attacks, some dating back to the mid-1970s, while Mulcahy is also suspected of attacks which
took place after Duffy was jailed.
There has been occasional publicity for the pairing since Mulcahy's imprisonment, including newspaper claims that Duffy was paid 20,000
pounds in return for information about his accomplice; and that Mulcahy has become a feared loan shark from his prison cell.
In 2001, a television movie Witness of Truth: The Railway Murders was released, starring Huw Higginson and Nicholas Marchie as Duffy
and Mulcahy, respectively.
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