Pub where Deborah Wood was last seen ‘had been frequented by sadistic killer John Taylor’
The mystery around the disappearance of factory worker Deborah Wood almost three decades ago has taken a fresh twist after the managers of the pub where she was last seen told a cold case review that sadistic killer John Taylor was a regular there.
Deborah, 20, was last seen alive leaving Big Lil’s bar in Leeds after having a drink with her father on January 4, 1996.
Her body was found ten days later.
Now Garth Durkin and Allan Moss, who ran Big Lil’s, have revealed that Taylor would wander around the pub, chatting up other customers.
Deborah Wood (pictured), 20, was last seen alive leaving Big Lil’s bar in Leeds after having a drink with her father on January 4, 1996. Her charred body was found ten days later
Taylor is likely to die behind bars for murdering Leanne Tiernan, 16, in 2000 and a string of rapes and other sex attacks over three decades.
But detectives believe he may have killed four other young women in West Yorkshire before they caught him.
Moss says he remembers Taylor and recalled: ‘He used to come in just after 5pm, probably when he finished work. He was a bit of a creep – touchy, touchy, feely, feely. I didn’t like the man. That’s it, pure and simple.
‘He was one of them that used to wander round and talk, and it was mainly females he’d talk to. He was hands-on, putting his arm around them and rubbing his hand up and down and feeling.
Sadistic killer John Taylor (pictured) has been identified as a potential suspect
‘The younger the female the better. If you’re asking me: ‘Did he leave with her that night?’ I couldn’t tell you. But if he’d have been in that night, she’s gone missing, he’d have been talking to her.’
Mr Moss was talking on a cold case investigation, by Silent Witness star Emilia Fox and criminologist Professor David Wilson, for their TV series In the Footsteps of Killers on Channel.
The show uncovered Moss and his former colleague Durkin as potential witnesses after Deborah vanished.
Durkin told the programme: ‘If they had approached me, I would have sat with the police in my office. We would have gone through the video tape, and we would have pointed out all the regulars.
‘Allan would have remembered all their names and that’s how it would have been done because we’ve done this with the police over other incidents. As far as I can remember – and it’s a long time ago – I didn’t even have one police officer speak to me, show me a picture.’
Deborah’s brother Craig believes one crucial piece of evidence has linked her death to Taylor.
Craig believes a necklace found in the car of John Taylor after the murder of 16-year-old Leanne Tiernan in 2000 used to belong to his sister.
Craig told the Channel 4 show: ‘I was watching a documentary of Leanne Tiernan and near the end the police said they’d discovered a necklace lodged down the side of the boot in John Taylor’s car.’
He added: ‘That’s the strange thing about this case.
‘There’s some circumstantial evidence there that’s linking what happened to Deborah to Leanne Tiernan.’
Craig believes the case was mismanaged from the start. He and his now-deceased mum Linda heartbreakingly only found out about Deborah’s murder on TV ten days after she went missing.
Deborah’s burned body was discovered on an embankment near Burley Park rail station in Leeds – a 12-minute walk from Taylor’s home in Bramley. Taylor was given a 30-year jail sentence for the murder of Leanne Tiernan and a string of sex attacks on women
He said: ‘A local television channel described about a body being found at Burley Railway Station.
‘My mum sort of had an inkling that the clothes that were described were the clothes that my mum had bought her.
‘You just have a gut feeling.’
Deborah’s charred body was found on January 14 on an embankment near Burley Park rail station in Leeds – a 12-minute walk from Taylor’s home in Bramley.
Six years later delivery driver John Taylor was jailed for life for the murder of Leanne.
He had snatched the 16-year-old on her way home from a Christmas shopping trip.
Divorced dad of two Taylor, a keen poacher and animal breeder, strangled her and kept her body in his kitchen freezer for nine months before dumping it in woodland.
The judge told Taylor at Leeds crown court: ‘You carried out a 20-year campaign of rape and assaults fuelled by sadistic desire to inflict pain for sexual gratification.’
They described him as a ‘sexual sadist who exudes evil’.
Chris Gregg, former head of CID at West Yorkshire Police, worked on the Leanne murder case and believes Taylor had killed before. He said: ‘He is one of the most dangerous sexual predators in the prison system. He is one of the most evil predators I have ever had the misfortune to come up against.’
Two years after he was jailed for life for Leanne’s murder, Taylor pleaded guilty to two rapes and was given a 30-year term after a police review of unsolved sex crimes.
And in 2018 a judge imposed a full-life tariff on him for another 16 offences – including three of rape – against five victims between 1977 and 1996.