Eighties slasher movie franchise Friday the 13th may have inspired the deadly killing spree of North Wales cinema owner Peter Moore, according to the man who put him behind bars for life.
Moore’s three-month rampage across North Wales in the course of which he killed four men, stabbing them to death and mutilating their bodies, began 25 years ago this month.
Shedding fresh light on the brutal murders by the gay killer is a new book, The Man in Black: Peter Moore, Wales’ Worst Serial Killer, by Moore’s solicitor, Dylan Rhys Jones.
With Mr Jones, alongside him, Moore, a softly spoken film fanatic from Kinmel Bay who owned a chain of cinemas in Bagillt, Denbigh, Holyhead and Blaenau Ffestiniog, told two North Wales Police detectives he had slain the four men – but later retracted his dramatic confession.
The book has been praised by Alex Carlile, the former Lib-Dem MP for Montgomery, now Lord Carlile of Berriew, who led the prosecution at the 1996 trial which saw Moore jailed for life.
The Kinmel Bay killer, who is still locked up in the UK’s toughest jail, HM Prison Wakefield and unlikely ever to be freed, claimed at his trial that the killer was his lover, a restaurant worker called Jason.
Moore pleaded not guilty to murdering four men, 56-year-old retired railway worker Henry Roberts in September; Edward Carthy, a 28-year-old man from Birkenhead in October; Keith Randles, a 49-year-old traffic manager from Chester, in November; and Anthony Davies, 40, from Abergele in December.
All the murders happened at night. Henry Roberts was killed at his home at Caergeiliog, near Holyhead; Edward Carthy, whom Moore met in a gay bar in Liverpool, was stabbed to death in Clocaenog Forest; Keith Randles was attacked on the A5 in Anglesey; and Anthony Davies was stabbed and left to die on Pensarn Beach, near Abergele in December.
But Lord Carlile said: “The Jason alter ego was unusual. Jason was an imaginary hotel or restaurant worker and I caused every hotel or restaurant on the North Wales coast to be investigated to see if there was someone who could fit into that category and surprise, surprise, there wasn’t, so we were able to dispose of that enquiry.
“But Peter Moore was a cinema proprietor and because of something the forensic pathologist told me we started looking at some films and there was a film series which Moore would have seen or shown, an episodic film showing someone who killed people.
“Each film had six episodes in circumstances which were strikingly like the ways in which Peter Moore carried out these murders.
“This was in the days of video and the first thing I put to Moore in cross-examination was the box of a particular video which bore a striking similarity to the way Moore had attacked his victims.”
Author Dylan Rhys Jones agrees the killings may have been copycat crimes inspired by Moore’s love of the cinema and he said: “Moore certainly knew a lot about the cinema and would have known about the Friday the 13th franchise and one of the films had come out shortly before the murders started.
“It may well have been an inspiration for Moore – certainly we all thought of it as that.”
He was on the defence team facing Lord Carlile and he said: “We knew he was a QC of high reputation and, if you were in court with him, he would give no quarter. He was very intelligent but also a bit of a streetfighter.
“We knew we had to be at the top of our game against him and present the best case we could in the circumstances.”
It was Lord Carlile who branded Moore the Man in Black and he added: “Moore was an extraordinarily self-indulgent person who was obtaining pleasure in having the case tried in court.
“He was given a lot of publicity. I described him as ‘the man in black – black thoughts, black clothes, black deeds’.
“The media picked up on that and it had a lot of attention in North Wales and nationally as well.
“These sorts of case do attract that kind of attention. It was a difficult case because of the nature of the evidence which was distressing and the nature of the defendant who was portrayed as very manipulative.”
Lord Carlile during the trial was scathing about Moore, an only child doted on by his mother, whose murder spree began after her death but who had been attacking and beating up gay men for more than 20 years.
He commented recently: “He caused more damage than anyone else I’ve ever prosecuted. As the jury found he killed four people and later claimed to have killed a fifth – although that claim may have been vanity on his part.
“It is rare for someone to be given a whole life tariff. That shows how dangerous he was.
“It doesn’t totally exclude the possibility of him being given parole at some future date but I would be surprised if he was.
“There were no mitigating factors.
“There was something very unpleasant about him. He was an aggressive assaulter of gay men. He had a police truncheon hanging by a hook by his bed and it wasn’t for fighting off burglars.
“At least one of the four men he murdered was not gay. He was just unfortunate to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“When he was asked why he had killed that man, Moore replied, ‘For fun’. I’ve been at the bar for 50 years and never heard that in any other case.
“Edward Randles was just a responsible person doing his job as a road manager and guarding the roadworks he was managing at night.”
In the circumstances Lord Carlile believes the defence team did the best they could, including the young solicitor, Dylan Rhys Jones.
He said: “It was a very difficult case to defend. I can’t say anything about the relationship between Peter Moore and his defence team but the senior barrister was a very experienced QC, the late Eric Somerset-Jones, and the junior, Dewi Williams, was also very experienced.
“Dylan Rhys Jones was the least experienced of the team but he represented Moore with great diligence and they could not have done any more for him.
“By any view this was a difficult case for the defence and he chose well in going to Dylan because he was determined to do the best he could, even for someone like Moore.”
Moore was sentenced to life imprisonment in November 1996 with a recommendation that he never be released and he is still locked up, almost certainly for ever, in Wakefield high security prison which holds 600 of the UK’s most dangerous prisoners, mainly murderers and sex offenders.
Its Supermax wing currently houses Moore along with Mark Bridger, who murdered five-year-old April Jones in Machynlleth in 2012, and former Lost Prophets singer Ian Watkins, convicted of a string of sex offences, many involving young children.
Dylan Rhys Jones no longer practices as a solicitor but lectures on Law and Criminology and helped create the Criminal Justice and Offender Management foundation degree course at Coleg Cambria and Chester University. He is a regular contributor to TV and radio.
The Man in Black – Peter Moore – Wales’ Worst Serial Killer is published by Y Lolfa on September 25, priced at £9.99.Captions