A musician obsessed with US serial killer Ted Bundy brutally murdered 18-year-old Bobbi-Anne McLeod after spotting her as she waited for a bus.
Cody Ackland led a “double life” the court heard, as he appeared for sentencing after admitting Miss McLeod’s murder.
Bobbi-Anne was last seen at a bus stop on 20 November last year, her body was found near Bovisand beach on 23 November.
How long was Ackland jailed for?
The 24-year-old was jailed for life at Plymouth Crown Court for a minimum of 31 years.
A judge told him he would remain indefinitely a “highly dangerous person”, adding: “There is a strong possibility you may never be released from prison.”
After attacking Miss McLeod with a claw hammer Ackland loaded the semi-conscious teenager into the footwell of his Ford Fiesta and drove her 20 miles to the Bellever Forest car park on Dartmoor where he killed her.
Ackland burnt her handbag and loaded her body into his boot and drove 30 miles back towards Plymouth to Bovisand where he stripped her naked and left her in undergrowth.
He later threw away her clothes in an allotment before spending the next 48 hours socialising with friends.
Three days later, Ackland turned himself in and confessed, telling detectives where he had dumped her body.
Who is Cody Ackland?
Ackland, 24, was lead guitarist in Plymouth-based indy band Rakuda.
He also worked as a car valet.
However, he was hiding a dark obsession. When police searched his home after Miss McLeod’s murder they found a stash of over 3,000 dark and disturbing images on Ackland’s phone.
Many of them were of the mutilated bodies of murder victims, as well as murder weapons, soiled and bloodied clothing, and the sites victims were found out.
It transpired he had a fascination with various infamous serial killers.
Investigators found from August to November last year, Ackland had looked for information about several murderers, including Ted Bundy, Golden State Killer Joseph DeAngelo Jr, Andrei Chikatilo, Ivan Milat, Fred West and Tommy Sells.
In the week before killing Bobbi-Anne McLeod, Ackland carried out further searches for Ted Bundy, Fred West and “Fred West’s house”
Two days the murder, he also looked up Richard Chase, the Vampire of Sacramento, and “Richard Chase bodies”.
The day before handing himself into police, Ackland also searched for serial killer Ed Kemper.
Over the days and hours before the murder Ackland browsed for remote locations on Dartmoor and for potential weapons.
Richard Posner, prosecuting, said: “His interest in the macabre presents as deep-rooted; a fascination with death, murder and murderers and the means to commit murder.”
Ackland, it seemed had struggled during his childhood and had been diagnosed with special educational needs by aged seven, and at the age of nine was already contemplating suicide.
He was diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia, depression and anxiety and by the age of 19 “had a seven-year depressive history”, the court was told.
It was said he had not received “much comfort” from either his home or his school life and that the his father and other male role models had not provided much “in the way of succour or support”.
Who is Ted Bundy?
A notorious American serial killer he kidnapped, raped and murdered several young women in the 1970s.
Ultimately after a decade of denial he admitted to 28 murders in seven states between 1974 and 1978. However, it is suspected he carried out other killings. He received three death sentences and was executed in 1989.
Ackland’s attack on Miss McLeod bore a striking resemblance to 1970s American serial killer Bundy’s modus operandi, in that he approached her from behind and struck her with the hammer before kidnapping her.
Was Ackland known to police?
The killing was the first time Ackland had ever come to the attention of the police, and not a single person who knew him had even the vaguest idea of his dark predilections.
The day after the murder, Ackland was back out socialising, joining rehearsals with his band Rakuda, and partying into the small hours at a pub lock-in.
The only difference friends noticed was that Ackland, described as usually introspective and someone who struggled to share his emotions, was “happier than usual”.
They said the only time they saw him in such an amped-up and joyful state was when Rakuda was getting ready backstage at a gig.
By Tuesday of the following week, Ackland had turned himself in, telling police he had dumped Miss McLeod’s body in undergrowth in Bovisand – a beauty spot a few miles up the coast from Plymouth.
He told police the murder had not even been on his mind over the previous three days because it was “so out there” it was like a film or a fantasy.
Ackland claimed he felt low on the day of the murder, had been for a drive to clear his head, and come across Miss McLeod when he took a short-cut through Leigham on his way to the town centre.
What did he say to police about what he had done?
On Tuesday 23 November, Ackland left work at a valeting department of a garage around noon and never returned.
At 1.30pm he walked into Charles Cross police station in Plymouth saying he had information about Miss McLeod’s disappearance.
Ackland was arrested on suspicion of murder. He asked for a map and directed officers to Bovisand, saying she could be found in the lane that led to the beach cafe.
In disturbing police interviews Ackland revealed the horrific circumstances about the night of the murder for which he said he was ‘solely responsible’. He confessed, he claimed, to help the police and Bobbi-Anne’s family.
He told police he had panicked when a still conscious Bobbi-Anne McLeod caught his eye when she fell to the floor.
“I did it again, I hit her again with the hammer and went to get back in the car and was going to drive away,” he said.
Ackland said “that was meant to be it” but as he returned to his car he saw Miss McLeod sit up and try to scream, adding: “I drove up to her and put her in the car.”
He said he had lifted Miss McLeod and supported her as they walked towards woodland and she said she had said something like “I am scared”.
Ackland told police: “I said (to Miss McLeod) so am I, I never done this, I’ve never seen this’, but I meant to say ‘I’ve never done this”.
What happened to Rakuda?
Ackland was lead guitarist in Plymouth-based indy band Rakuda, who released their first EP in August last year.
At the time of the release an article from rightcordmusic.com described Ackland as the band’s main songwriter and lead guitarist, and described the group’s sound as harking back to 90s and 00s garage rock.
The other members of Rakuda announced in November they would disband “with immediate effect” and said they were “extremely shocked and in complete disbelief” at what had happened and said their thoughts were with Miss McLeod’s family. The band’s profile picture is that of a candle in tribute to Miss McLeod.
Weeks later said they would be taking a “short hiatus from the music scene” with a view to reforming in the spring of 2022.