Ex-soldier Paul Taylor denies murder of Sally McGrath

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The trial has started of a man who is accused of murdering a woman in the 1970s as well as a string of rapes in the area.

The body of Sally McGrath, 22, was partially buried in the Wild Boar Spinney near Castor and Ailsworth in March 1980.

She was last seen alive at a pub in Peterborough in July 1979.

Her killer could not be found despite a major police investigation.

Former soldier Paul Taylor, 60, originally from Peterborough and now living in Fareham, Hampshire, was arrested last year.

Taylor appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court this week, charged with Miss McGrath’s murder along with three counts of rape, one attempted rape, a serious sexual assault and an indecent assault.

The sexual offences relate to three different women and took place in villages between Stamford and Peterborough.

Taylor denies the charges.

Prosecutor Karim Khalil told Chelmsford Crown Court that Taylor was married at the time of the 1979 offences.

He openly slept with other women, regularly going for “quickies”, but insisted in a police interview the relationships were always consensual.

Mr Khalil described Taylor as a man “brimming with confidence who had the capacity to be an engaging flirt and a ladies’ man”.

But he said he had the “capacity to become violent very quickly”.

At the start of the trial, the court heard that a teenager was raped just yards from where it is alleged Taylor later dumped the body of Peterborough woman Sally McGrath.

One of the charges relates to an accusation he raped a 17-year-old woman at Castor Hanglands on June 28, 1979, just a few days before Miss McGrath went missing.

She disappeared on July 11, 1979, after reports she was seen drinking with Taylor and two other people at the Bull Hotel, in Peterborough.

Taylor, who was on bail at the time for a burglary, failed to sign on at the police station that day, which he was required to do. His wife also told police he was breaking his curfew on that day, and just a few days later he advertised his blue van for sale.

But the court heard Taylor allegedly carried out sexual assaults before Miss McGrath went missing. The court also heard testimonies from three women, two of whom claimed they were raped by Taylor.

The trial, which is expected to last for up to eight weeks, continues.