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A com­mu­nity worker called Stephan, who had spent time with the city’s home­less for six years, later said: “Home­less peo­ple have to give off a lot of bravado to sur­vive, but Martin was talk­ing about how he was go­ing to make a name for him­self, that he was go­ing to hurt peo­ple. We got the sense that there was some­thing else – that he was ca­pa­ble of se­ri­ous vi­o­lence.”

On De­cem­ber 29, 2004, Katie Bax­ter, 18, who had been liv­ing on the streets for a year, van­ished. Two days later an­other home­less girl, Zoe Pen­nick, 26, also dis­ap­peared.

The ru­mours started that bod­ies had been dis­cov­ered at a derelict ware­house off Great North­ern Close, a lonely spot used by the home­less.

On Fri­day, Fe­bru­ary 11, a po­lice dog found the de­com­pos­ing re­mains of Katie un­der care­fully placed pieces of brick, soil and de­bris.

Five days later of­fi­cers found Zoe’s body, also buried be­neath rub­ble, close to where Katie was dis­cov­ered.

Both women had been beaten and stran­gled and po­lice soon linked their deaths to that of Ellen Frith, 25, a home­less mother of two who’d been found in a burn­ing squat in the St Ann’s area of the city on Jan­uary 24. As po­lice be­gan in­ter­view­ing scores of Not­ting­ham’s home­less, one name kept crop­ping up: Reds.

He was of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est to po­lice as he had also used the squat in Marple Road. One de­tec­tive who worked on the case said: “He was a bully with a short fuse and there was barely a home­less per­son in Not­ting­ham who did not have a bad ex­pe­ri­ence to tell about him.”

Martin was ar­rested along with a home­less as­so­ciate, John Ash­ley, and both were charged with Ellen’s mur­der.

Cops learned that Ash­ley had once been in a re­la­tion­ship with her, while both Katie and Zoe were linked to both men.

As the po­lice built a case against them for the mur­ders of Katie and Zoe, Martin was on re­mand in jail, where he bragged to cell­mates about be­com­ing Not­ting­ham’s first se­rial killer. He told one lag: “If you’ve killed one, you might as well kill 21.”

Martin told the lag he’d taken Katie back to the ware­house for sex where he sud­denly “snapped” and stran­gled her. She’d scratched him, so he burned her finger­tips to re­move any ev­i­dence.

He said he killed Zoe be­cause she’d left a hy­po­der­mic nee­dle in his bed, with the lag tes­ti­fy­ing: “He said he’d sorted her out and he’d ‘smashed her legs up like bis­cuits’. He said it was hard and she didn’t want to die. He was punch­ing her and kicking her. In the end he stood on her throat.”

Ellen was stran­gled af­ter she went with the men and an­other, Dean Carr, to smoke drugs in the Marple Road squat.

Martin was found guilty of all three mur­ders while Ash­ley and Carr were jailed for life for their part in Ellen and Katie’s mur­ders.

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