Discovery another chapter in ‘houses of horrors’ history

THE discovery of human remains in the back garden of a house in the Kent town of Margate gives the address a disturbing infamy.

Number 50 Irvine Drive joins a list of suburban homes where grisly finds have exposed horrific crimes.

Police are still searching the red-brick terrace where the body of Vicky Hamilton, aged 15, was found buried in a sandpit, and think there is a chance the body of 18-year-old Dinah McNicol may be hidden inside.

They are investigating the possibility that convicted murderer Peter Tobin, who lived in the house, may have killed several other women.

For the family who lived there for 12 years, the finds must send a shiver down the spine.

It is unclear whether they will return to the house after police finish the process of excavating, which will take at least another week.

For streets and communities who discover a “house of horror” in their midst, erasing the memory of the events that took place there sometimes means the destruction of the property itself.

In others, buildings are left empty as long as the memory of the crime lingers for prospective buyers.

* 25 Cromwell Street and 25 Midland Road

Serial killers Fred and Rosemary West tortured, raped and murdered most of their victims at their three-storey Edwardian end-of-terrace house on Cromwell Street, Gloucester.

Nine sets of bones were found in the cellar, in vertical shafts dug for the purpose. It was razed in October 1996, by which time Fred West had killed himself in prison.

The land was paved with a path and trees planted along the edge.

The Wests began their killing spree at another house, close to the centre of the town.

It was converted into flats by a property developer.

* 5 College Close

The caretaker’s house where Ian Huntley killed schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman was bulldozed in April 2004.

It took 35 minutes to destroy the building Huntley was allowed to live in as part of his job as caretaker at Soham Village College.

* 195 Melrose Avenue and 23 Cranley Gardens

Serial killer Dennis Nilsen kept many of his victims’ bodies after he strangled them, often dismembering the corpses and later burning the remains.

The flat in Cranley Gardens, Muswell Hill, north London was sold cheaply in 1983 to investors who struggled to let it despite the property boom of the next decade.

* 10 Rillington Place

The house in Notting Hill, west London, where serial killer John Christie murdered his wife and at least five other women was also torn down.

After he was convicted and hanged, the street was renamed Ruston Close and number 10 was demolished.

More in this section


Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox