Serial killer-obsessed musician jailed for life for murdering teenager Bobbi-Anne McLeod

19 May 2022, 13:37 | Updated: 19 May 2022, 16:11

Ackland was jailed for life for the murder of Bobbi-Anne
Ackland was jailed for life for the murder of Bobbi-Anne. Picture: Alamy/Devon and Cornwall Police

By Will Taylor

A Ted Bundy-obsessed musician was acting out his fantasies when he murdered teenager Bobbi-Anne McLeod with a hammer has been jailed for life.

Cody Ackland, 24, lead a double life – on the one hand performing as a guitarist for a local indie band and secretly holding a fascination with serial killers.

Ackland, a car valet, was unknown to police when she bludgeoned Bobbi-Anne as she waited for a bus in Plymouth in November last year.

He put her, semi-conscious, in the footwell of his Ford Fiesta and drove 20 miles to Bellever Forest car park in Dartmoor, where he killed her with a hammer.

After handing himself in, callous Ackland said to police how Bobbi-Anne said she was “scared” as he took her to woodland outside Plymouth to kill her.

He said he told her: "So am I, I’ve never done this."

Bobbi-Anne was attacked as she sat waiting for a bus
Bobbi-Anne was attacked as she sat waiting for a bus. Picture: Devon and Cornwall Police

Ackland also described how Bobbi-Anne made a noise during an attack in which he struck her 12 times.

He said: "It's not funny but she started to make a noise and I thought 'f***ing hell, wow, I mean hats off to her'."

In total, the teenager went on for three hours with a brain injury before dying after Ackland stood on her neck, suffocating her.

Ackland, who was sentenced to a minimum of 31 years in prison on Thursday, then burned her handbag and put her body in his boot, driving 30 miles to Bovisand, where he left her naked in the undergrowth.

He then threw her clothes away in an allotment and then spent the following two days with his friends.

Cody Ackland confesses to murder of Bobbi-Anne McLeod

Ackland, a musician and car valet, was obsessed with serial killers
Ackland, a musician and car valet, was obsessed with serial killers. Picture: Devon and Cornwall Police

Three days later he surrendered himself to police, confessing to the murder and revealing where he left Bobbi-Anne. Ackland, of Southway, Plymouth, later pleaded guilty to murder.

Investigators found from August to November last year, Ackland searched for details about murderers including Ted Bundy, Golden State Killer Joseph DeAngelo Jr, Andrei Chikatilo, Ivan Milat, Fred West and Tommy Sells.

In the week before he killed Bobbi-Anne, he searched for Ted Bundy, Fred West and "Fred West’s house", and two days prior he searched Richard Chase, the Vampire of Sacramento, and "Richard Chase bodies".

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The attack on Bobbi-Anne – approaching from behind her and hitting her with a hammer before kidnapping her - resembled the modus operandi of Ted Bundy, the notorious Amercian serial killer who was active in the 1970s.

And the day before he gave himself up to police, he searched for Ed Kemper, another serial killer.

Prosecutor Richard Posner said: "His interest in the macabre presents as deep-rooted; a fascination with death, murder and murderers and the means to commit murder."

DSI Mike West reads statement by Bobbi-Anne McLeod's family

The scene in Bellever forest where Bobbi-Anne was attacked
The scene in Bellever forest where Bobbi-Anne was attacked. Picture: Devon and Cornwall Police

Along side his searches for serial killers were also queries for hammers, crowbars and cutting tools.

"Cody Ackland led a double life. When he left home on November 20 and drove through Leigham in Plymouth towards the bus stop where Bobbi-Anne was," Mr Posner said.

"He held such an unhealthy fascination and desire to imitate serial killers. His fascination was to become an unimaginable wicked reality for Bobbi-Anne."

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Among 3,000 disturbing images were found on Ackland's phone, many showing mutilated bodies of murder victims, murder weapons, bloodied clothing and sites of where victims were found.

Bobbi-Anne left her home in Leigham on the afternoon of November 20 and was planning to go and meet her boyfriend.

She was last seen alive at 6.15pm at a bus stop on Bampton Road. He family began to worry an hour later and her abandoned mobile and headphones were found at the stop.

Ackland murdered Bobbi-Anne in woodland
Ackland murdered Bobbi-Anne in woodland. Picture: Devon and Cornwall

Her boyfriend then contacted her family to ask where she was before leading an appeal to find her on social media.

Alison Hernandez, the police and crime commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, said she hoped Cody Ackland will never get let out of jail.

"This case illustrates the best and worst in humanity. The worst in a killer who showed such incredible cruelty to his victim and the best in the community in Plymouth who expressed an outpouring of grief and support for Bobbi-Anne's family," she said.

"I hope her loved ones and the community take some solace in the fact that that he is locked up and police have investigated this case with professionalism and compassion, even though nothing will ease the devastation of losing Bobbi-Anne, a much-loved young woman.

"This case has touched the hearts of people around the country. No reasonable person could ever fathom the actions of this murderer and I hope, for public safety and reassurance, that he's never released."

Judge Robert Linford, sentencing, said: "The evidence discloses that you had a worrying and disturbing interest in murders and serial killers.

"Images were recovered from your mobile telephone, which included photographs of bodies, post-mortems, human remains, injuries to people and serial killers.

"This macabre interest is indicative, suggests your advocate, of no more than morbid fascination. But I'm satisfied so that I'm sure that based upon the extensive internet searches that you carried out, that your interest in this material went beyond morbid fascination."

The band Ackland was part of, Rakuda, released their first EP three months before the killing.

They announced they would disband but instead said they wanted to reform this year.

Updates to follow