Defending a serial killer who mutilated the bodies of his victims like Jack the Ripper caused a solicitor to have post-traumatic stress disorder and led to a devastating mental health breakdown.
Gay slayer Peter Moore stabbed to death four men across North Wales exactly 25 years ago in a horrific killing spree that echoed aspects of the Ripper murders in London’s East End a century earlier.
Now Dylan Rhys Jones, the lawyer who defended Moore, has revealed the parallel with the Whitechapel murders of 1891 – that Moore and the Ripper, who both struck under cover of darkness, left their calling cards on their victims’ bodies.
Both were ‘piquarists’ who gained sexual gratification from stabbing the intimate areas of their victims after killing them.
Mr Jones also documents the perils, pressures and the personal price of representing a serial murderer in a new book, The Man in Black – Peter Moore – Wales’ Worst Serial Killer, published to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the brutal killings.
The then 30-year-old lawyer from Abergele had acted for the Kinmel Bay cinema owner over Moore’s late mother’s will two years earlier but the call at lunchtime on December 21, 1995, was for a far different matter.
It was murder and the young solicitor was to be part of the collateral damage.
For Moore’s lawyer that price included PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder – a breakdown and a spell in a hospital’s psychiatric ward as he struggled to cope with the fallout from the four brutal slayings which Moore committed between late September and December 18, 1995.
They began when Moore stabbed 56-year-old Henry Roberts to death at his home near Caergeiliog, Holyhead. Next came Edward Carthy, a 28-year-old man Moore met in a gay bar in Liverpool, who was stabbed to death in the October, followed by Keith Randles, a 49-year-old traffic manager from Chester, in November 1995 on the A5 in Anglesey.
His final victim was Anthony Davies, 40; stabbed and left to die on Pensarn Beach, near Abergele on December 18 – Moore was arrested two days later.
Mr Jones doesn’t practise as a lawyer anymore and he is no longer haunted by the demons Moore unleashed in his mind, which used to keep him awake at night and almost destroyed him.
But he still recalls those dark days and he said: “We all think and I certainly did that I was some kind of superman and that I would carry on, run my business and all this horror wouldn’t have any kind of effect on me at all.
“But it did affect me. I had flashbacks about the case and began to feel low and depressed. It was a horrific case and I had to study every aspect of it.
“The similarity with Jack the Ripper was quite marked – both were piquarists. The Ripper would target the breasts and groin and stab them there while Moore did something similar but as his murders were homosexual in nature he would stab and cut around the anus and backside.
“Moore would also collect items from his victims like trophies, something he could look at or touch to relive the action of murdering someone.”
Acting for Moore meant Mr Jones had to immerse himself in every details of the murders including looking at hundreds of crime scene photos which captured the carnage after a Moore attack.
The body of Edward Carthy, dumped in Clocaenog Forest, near Ruthin, had been disturbed by animals and his head and torso were found 50 yards apart and Mr Jones said: “I could see these images in my head and I’ll always see them.
“Late at night when I got out of my car at home I would have the sense that Moore was there, running up behind me to stab me.
“The sensation is very real, as if it’s actually happening and you are frozen to the spot.
“It’s not rational but rational feelings don’t come into it.”
He says that over the years he became more and more depressed and there was a split at work with his business partner which added to the continued stress from the Moore case.
He said: “Combined with what I had already gone through it took me over the edge and in the end my best friend, a doctor, literally had to take me to the Ablett Ward, the psychiatric ward at Glan Clwyd Hospital.
“I was in bits and there was no other way of dealing with it at the time. I think it can happen to a lot of professional people, lawyers, teachers, doctors, and it was only when I started getting help that I realised the effect these things had had on me.
“I had never discussed this with my family. I never felt that was right. I didn’t want them to hear about these horrible things so I locked them away.
“There is more awareness now about mental health than 20 years ago but back then there was a feeling that if I had ever mentioned what I was going through, I would have been seen as a weak individual who couldn’t hack it.
“It wasn’t until I went to hospital that I started to recognise that I had a problem.
“As for the Moore case, I ran it as well as I could but Alex Carlile, who prosecuted Moore, said himself that there was a huge workload.
“I had an estate car and it was literally full of boxes of paperwork that I collected from the Crown Prosecution and I had to go through every one of them and look at every picture.
“Courtrooms are very confrontational. You don’t want to show any weakness, you want to be as tough as old boots but none of us is really like that.
“PTSD is something that can be delayed and you can suffer it years later but I’m hoping that writing this book is part of the process of coming to terms with the Peter Moore case and hopefully this is the last chapter of it.
“I walk my dog on Pensarn Beach where the last murder was committed. As I turn round and walk home, I feel that I’m turning around and walking home from this case.”
Lawyer burnout is a major issue, according to former Bristol solicitor Leah Steele whose own career was scarred by the stresses of working with cases of child abuse, drug addiction and family issues.
Now her company, Searching for Serenity, works with law firms and other professionals to alleviate stress and she contacted Dylan after reading about the struggles he has had.
She said: “Clearly for Dylan it has helped that he has been able to write about his experiences and these days things are improving in law and in other professions.
“Many of the big firms I work with do take the issue of workplace stress very seriously but in smaller firms there is still little or no support.
“They take the attitude that everything is fine but you know there are young lawyers crying in the toilets every day.”
Moore was sentenced to life imprisonment in November 1996 with a recommendation that he never be released.
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.
Mr Jones now 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, priced at £9.99.