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Murder trial hears of boys’ grisly find

PUBLISHED: 09:00 12 March 2011

A KENTISH Town carpenter with a hatred of women disposed of the dismembered bodies of two former girlfriends in canals in Camden and Rotterdam, a court heard.

John Sweeney, 54, is accused of butchering 31-year-old mother-of-three Paula Fields in 2000 and dumping six bags containing 10 pieces of her body in the Regent’s Canal in Camden.

He is previously said to have killed 33-year-old Melissa Halstead, a former model with the renowned Ford agency, in 1990 and dumped her dismembered body in a canal in Rotterdam, Holland.

Sweeney was first arrested on suspicion of the murder of Paula Fields on March 23, 2001. At the time he was on the run after attempting to kill another partner, Delia Balmer in 1994.

Jurors heard at the Old Bailey on Thursday how the investigation began with a gruesome discovery by boys out fishing in Regent’s Canal on February 19, 2001.

Prosecutor Brian Altman QC said: “In the water not far from the canal side they saw some bags. Curious to see what was within them they pulled one of the bags of the towpath.

“To their horror they had discovered just some of the dismembered remains of 31-year-old Paula Fields.”

Liverpool-born Paula had last been seen alive in December 2000 and was reported missing the following month.

Concluding his opening speech to the jury, Mr Altman said that the similarities between the murders of Fields and Halstead proved that Sweeney was responsible.

Sweeney, from Kentish Town but of no fixed address, denies two counts of murder and one of perverting the course of justice by disposing of the body of Paula Fields.

The trial continues.


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