As David Mulcahy tightened a tourniquet around his teenaged victim’s neck, he looked into the eyes of his accomplice John Duffy. “We are in this together. Take it, twist it.”
Duffy obeyed and within seconds, 19-year-old Alison Day was dead. With that act of depravity a friendship “forged in evil” reached its logical climax. Rape was no longer enough, Mulcahy and Duffy were now murderers. As one intended victim, a restaurant manageress who fought them off, said afterwards: “They were like two bodies with one brain, soul mates.”
This bond lay behind the rape of dozens of women and the murder of three. Their pact – if one was caught, the other stayed silent – was strong. Duffy, known as the “railway rapist” because he used his knowledge of the rail network around London when planning his crimes, refused to incriminate his friend even when he was convicted in 1988. It took 10 years for him to break that silence.
Duffy admitted a string of sex attacks “too numerous to count”, and finally implicated Mulcahy. Early on Saturday Feb 6, 1999, Mulcahy was dragged from his bed by police as his sons slept upstairs. After 17 years, the past had caught up with him. Less than a year later at the Old Bailey, he faced Duffy for only the second time in 13 years, having seen him briefly at committal proceedings.
During 14 days of evidence, Duffy described their campaign of sexual terror. Duffy said Mulcahy revelled in murder because it gave him the power of “life and death”. But for both men, arrogance also played its part. Duffy said: “We believed we would never get caught. It was all part of a game, we thought we were better than they were.”