London

Search for canal killer John Sweeney's 'missing women'

John Sweeney
Image caption Police are trying to trace three other women who knew Sweeney

A man who killed his two girlfriends and dumped their mutilated bodies in canals in the Netherlands and London may have killed others, police said.

Police are trying to trace three women who have been missing for years after John Sweeney was convicted of murdering Melissa Halstead, 33, and Paula Fields.

Miss Halstead's torso was found in a Rotterdam canal in 1990, while 31-year-old Ms Fields' remains were found in London's Regent's Canal in 2001.

Sweeney, 54, denied both murders.

The two murders were linked in 2010 after the body of Miss Halstead, who was a model and photographer from the US, was identified in 2008.

Sweeney, of no fixed address, was also convicted of trying to pervert the course of justice, an accusation he denied.

He will be sentenced on Tuesday.

'Callous and undignified'

Now officers believe two South American women and an English woman, who have not been seen for the past 14 years, had all known Sweeney.

The first woman is a Brazilian, called Irani, who was in her mid-40s when she disappeared.

Police believe she either lived or worked in or frequently visited pubs and restaurants in the Highbury and Holloway Road area, north London area in 1996-97.

She may have worked in kitchens as a cleaner, police said.

The second woman the Met is trying to trace is a Colombian, named Maria.

Image caption The bodies of Melissa Halstead and Paula Fields were found in canals

She was also living or working in north London and frequented pubs and restaurants in the Finsbury Park and Holloway Road area in 1997-98.

At the time of her disappearance Maria was in her late 30s.

The third woman is called Sue, from Derby or Derbyshire. She was was believed to be aged late 20s or early 30s in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

She was either living or working or was frequently seen in Holloway Road and Seven Sisters area.

Officers think Sue was attending a nursing college and had gone to work in Switzerland during her training period.

Following the verdict Det Ch Insp Howard Groves, who led the Met investigation, said Sweeney killed Miss Halstead and Ms Fields and disposed of their bodies "in the most callous and undignified manner possible".

"And as he contemplates a life behind bars, I can assure him that this investigation will continue as we seek to identify and trace other potential victims in the UK, Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe, who may have suffered a similar fate to that of Melissa and Paula," he added.

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