A 24-year-old man who had a “morbid fascination” with serial killers has been jailed for murdering 18-year-old Bobbi-Anne McLeod with a claw hammer.
Cody Ackland attacked Ms McLeod while she waited at a bus stop in Plymouth on a Saturday evening in November last year.
Later that night he dumped her body, stripped of clothes, in dense woodland close to a beach nine miles south of where she was attacked.
He was given a life sentence at Plymouth Crown Court on Thursday with a minimum of 31 years.
Judge Robert Linford told Ackland: “On 20 November last year you subjected Bobbi-Anne McLeod to a prolonged, savage and merciless attack.”
He continued: “She was a young, popular and much-loved person, you caused outrage and fear in this part of the country and with good reason, it was utterly motiveless.”
Judge Lindford told Ackland that he would remain indefinitely a “highly dangerous person”, adding: “There is a strong possibility you may never be released from prison.”
The murderer looked at the judge throughout his comments and nodded as his sentence was passed.
Ackland, who was not known to police and had no previous convictions, admitted her murder last month.
He led a “double life” involving a morbid interest in serial killers, police revealed, particularly the US killer Ted Bundy, whose kidnap and murder of young women bore similarities to the killing of Ms McLeod.
Devon and Cornwall Police also found thousands of images on his phone, many of a “disturbing and dark nature” reminiscent of horror films.
Detective Superintendent Mike West told Sky News that his attack on Ms McLeod was prolonged and sadistic.
“There was nothing that Bobbi-Anne could have done to save herself,” he said.
The attack began at the bus stop in the Leigham area of the city. “She was approached from the rear by a man that was armed with a claw hammer. She was struck repeatedly around the head and around the face,” Det Supt said.
“When Ackland realised there was a potential – no matter how small – that she could identify him subsequently, he chose to abduct Bobbi-Anne, moving her into the footwell of his Ford Fiesta.”
Murderer was ‘happier than usual’
He then drove Ms McLeod, whom police believe was still alive, to Bellever Forest car park on Dartmoor, 19 miles away.
Police say it was here that Ackland repeatedly attacked the teenager with the hammer outside the car before burning her handbag along with other items from his vehicle.
He then placed her body in the car boot and drove to Bovisand Beach, where he hid her body in undergrowth before going home.
Police say there was no evidence of a sexual attack or motivation and that Ms McLeod did not know Ackland.
The day after the murder, Ackland, a guitarist in a local indie band, disposed of the hammer in a river and then went out for pizza with a friend, attended band practice and drank into the early hours with friends at a pub lock-in.
Det Supt West said those who were with him that night said he was “happier than usual”.
“He was happy, he was jokey and going round his friends giving them hugs – which for Ackland was a rarity,” he said.
‘Dark, explicit, graphic material’
Yet on 23 November, three days after the murder, Ackland decided to hand himself in to a police station in Plymouth.
He asked detectives for a map and then directed them to where he had hidden Ms McLeod’s body.
Police say Ackland had given no indication to friends or family of his intention to carry out the attack, but online search history in the days before revealed he had looked into remote locations on Dartmoor and for potential weapons.
Speaking about Ackland’s obsession with serial killers and the 3,216 images found on his phone, Det Supt West said: “For a period of time he was looking at serial killers.
“[There was] a really significant level of dark, explicit, graphic material. He had used the internet to search for baseball bats, balaclavas, waterproof clothing, DIY websites for cutting tools and hammers.
“My personal opinion is that that shows a degree of planning and at some stage, he wanted to carry out an act upon his fantasies.
“It is exceptionally rare that anybody would live this sort of secret life without having offended at a lower level previously. But all the investigations that we’ve completed, shows that this was the first offence that Ackland had committed.”
‘He has taken away our world’
Ms McLeod’s family said: “Bobbi was a beautiful girl who lit up our lives and the lives of everyone she ever met. She was kind, funny, and loyal. She was the best daughter, the best sister, and the best friend to so many people.
“Everybody who knew Bobbi loved her. We have been robbed of our beautiful girl in the worst possible way and our lives will never be the same without her.
“I want Cody Ackland to know that he has taken away our world. We will never see her beautiful face or hear her laugh, see her get married or have the children she so wanted. So many everyday things have been taken away. Her not being here is still unimaginable.
“Our lives have changed forever. We have not been able to say goodbye to Bobbi-Anne and we can only imagine the things he did to her – the thoughts are continually going around in our minds.
“Why Bobbi-Anne? Why make her suffer? To know her final hours were spent being tortured destroys us inside.”