Father and son duo murdered and mutilated two men in orgy of sadistic violence

Father and son murderers Ian MacLeod and Dean McLeodFather and son murderers Ian MacLeod and Dean McLeod
Father and son murderers Ian MacLeod and Dean McLeod | Supplied
A father and son who murdered and mutilated two men in an orgy of sadistic violence were jailed for life today.

Ian MacLeod, 66, and Dean McLeod, 42, were both ordered to serve at least 34 years in prison before they can seek to apply for parole after killing Derek Johnston and Desmond Rowlings. MacLeod senior separately invited both victims to come to his home at Greendykes House in the Craigmillar area of Edinburgh where they were savagely attacked. His son, nicknamed Denim, bought two hammers, forensic suits, plastic overshoes and goggles in the lead up to the murders.

Father and son murderers Ian MacLeod and Dean McLeodFather and son murderers Ian MacLeod and Dean McLeod
Father and son murderers Ian MacLeod and Dean McLeod | Supplied

A judge told the pair at the High Court in Edinburgh: "This is, on any view, one of the worst cases of murder to come before the High Court." Lord Arthurson said the violence inflicted on Mr Johnston, 37, and Mr Rowlings, 66, was "extreme, sustained and prolonged".

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The judge endorsed the words of a victim's bereaved family who described it as "the cowardly actions of monsters".

MacLeod senior, of Greendykes Road, Edinburgh, and his son, of North Berwick in East Lothian, admitted murdering Mr Johnston between October 30 and November 1 in 2022 by repeatedly striking him on the head with a Stanley knife and a machete and repeatedly hitting him on the head with a hammer, which was left embedded in his head.

They also burnt the letters 'YLT' into his forehead with a blowtorch, severed an ear and part of his nose and forced nails through his eyes.

The pair also pled guilty to murdering Mr Rowlings between the same dates by repeatedly striking him on the head and body with a Stanley knife and machetes and repeatedly striking him on the head and body with a hammer. They burnt the letters 'VT', 'YT' and 'YLT' on his body with a blowtorch and severed parts of his nose and upper lip and cut off his ears.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

After the murders police found a note written by Dean McLeod in the blood spattered flat which said: "What we done was evil and sadistic but I have pleaded for help for decades." He said he went to see a psychiatrist and smashed up tables in the waiting room and told him "about persistent thoughts of mutilating people".

Victims Derek Johnston, left, and Desmond Rowlings were murdered by father and son killers Ian and Dean MacLeodVictims Derek Johnston, left, and Desmond Rowlings were murdered by father and son killers Ian and Dean MacLeod
Victims Derek Johnston, left, and Desmond Rowlings were murdered by father and son killers Ian and Dean MacLeod | Supplied

He wrote: "Na f--- you'z, pitty I wasn't the same man as back in the day as the targets would've been a better selection and a lot more of them for sure, they 2 were done for petty reasons really. I am sorry to let anyone down for being so evil but I was just tiered (sic) of being a laughing stock and door mat from pure T pots."

He claimed that he adored his father, whom he described as "a pure warrior of a man". The court heard that following the murders McLeod junior told a psychiatrist: "I've not always been a bad person. I've got closer to my dad the last few days but he is a narcissist and a sociopath." 

The court heard that days before the murders Mr Johnston, who lived in the Liberton area of Edinburgh, told a neighbour that he had heard "Ian and Denim were out to kill him." Advocate depute Gavin Anderson said: "Mr Johnston appeared to consider the threat to be real. Mr Johnston did not report his concerns to the police."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The prosecutor said that Mr Johnston arrived at Greendykes House at 6.15 pm on October 30 after being invited there by MacLeod senior. He added: "He did not leave the locus again prior to his death.”

Later that night MacLeod senior went to Mr Johnston's home and collected his dog before returning to Greendykes House where his son remained. Mr Anderson said: "The Crown cannot confirm if, by this period of time, Mr Johnston was already injured or deceased, although that is entirely possible."

On October 31 in 2022 MacLeod senior went to the flat of his neighbour Mr Rowlings, a retired joiner, and invited him to his home. The following day would have been the victim's 67th birthday and his partner tried to call him to wish him 'happy birthday'. 

After failing to make contact she and friends went to his flat. There was no sign of Mr Rowlings, but the TV and lights were on and his car was parked outside. A missing person report was made to police. Officers later forced entry to the flat of MacLeod senior where they found the bodies of the victims.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Anderson said: "The body of Mr Rowlings was found in the living room. He was lying on his back in the far right corner of the room under a window. He was covered by a blanket. A Stanley knife, hammer and blowtorch were found beside him. He had sustained significant injuries to his head and body, including the partial removal of his ears and nose; as well as multiple stab wounds to the face.

“The body of Mr Johnston was found in the bathroom, lying within the bath. He was covered by a rug. He had sustained significant injuries to his head and body. A hammer was embedded in his head. A nail was protruding from each eyeball.”

Mr Johnston was later found to have sustained at least 28 separate injuries to his head, neck and limbs and death occurred following multiple injuries to the right side of the head.

Mr Anderson said neuropathology findings were consistent with survival of "at least a few hours" between at least some of the head injuries being inflicted and death, but it did not follow that the victim was conscious during that time.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Rowlings was found to have suffered 136 distinct injuries to his head, neck, chest, back and limbs. Some of these were groups of injuries so the total number inflicted was considerably greater.

Police traced the MacLeods to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and took possession of the son's clothing and a rucksack. Inside the rucksack they found a pouch which contained part of Mr Johnston's ear and a piece of his flesh along with a piece of Mr Rowlings' nose and a piece of his flesh.

During an assessment with a consultant forensic psychiatrist McLeod junior told him: "They never believed I was ill, but they will now when they see  the intentions and there was a lot more intentions." He added: "The voice in my head say to do this and do that."

McLeod junior said: "I sit and bang my head against the wall to music for hours and hours and I know quirky things like that aren't right with me."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

During a search at the flat where the murders occurred  blood from Mr Rowlings was on the living room blinds and ceiling and police recovered two extensively blood stained machetes and a Stanley knife and two hammers.Mr Anderson said the nails were driven into Mr Johnston's eyes and left ear and the tip of the nose removed after death.

The prosecutor said: "The Crown cannot say which deceased died first, although the findings would be consistent with Mr Johnston having died first. |The Crown cannot say if Mr Johnston was already dead by the time Mr Rowlings entered the locus, although that is possible.

After the murders the MacLeods drove away from the scene and consumed the heroin substitute methadone in a bid to commit suicide. They then went to The Royal Edinburgh Hospital and met off-duty doctors in the grounds of the psychiatric institution where McLeod junior stated they had both taken an overdose of methadone but "it hadn't worked". They were then taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Defence counsel Brian McConnachie KC, for the MacLeod senior, who was previously jailed for six years for serious assault, said he had health issues including Parkinson's Disease. He said MacLeod understood the sentence to be imposed on him would be "a death sentence" as he would not be coming out of custody. Mark Stewart KC, for the son, said he has suffered mental health issues for a number of years.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Moira Orr, Procurator Fiscal for homicide and major crime at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), said after the case: “We note the guilty pleas by Ian MacLeod and Dean McLeod for the concerted murders of Derek Johnston and Desmond Rowlings.   

“These were brutal and senseless killings of men who were known to the accused. Their actions inflicted untold distress on the victims’ families, especially Derek’s mother and sister and Desmond’s two daughters and partner.  

“The savage nature of these attacks sent shockwaves through the local community.  Prosecutors and police worked with scientists to successfully build a case against both accused using forensic evidence.

“While the families of Derek and Desmond will never recover from the murders inflicted upon their loved ones, I hope these guilty pleas bring them some comfort that justice has been served. Today’s sentence spares them the distressing ordeal of a trial reliving the deaths of their loved ones. Our thoughts remain with them.” 

Related topics: