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Last Updated: Monday, 18 April 2005, 11:07 GMT 12:07 UK
Hobson a 'Jekyll and Hyde figure'
Hobson being arrested
Hobson was arrested after a manhunt
Binman Mark Hobson has admitted to the murders of twin sisters and an elderly couple in North Yorkshire last summer.

To some who knew him, Mark Hobson was a man to be avoided when drunk - to others he was Mr Nice Guy.

A couple who knew the former bin man have revealed he was no stranger to the police and has a history of aggressive behaviour.

Carol Hunter and Trevor Richards said they had witnessed incidents of brawling and foul language from Hobson.

Neighbour Neil Brooke said he had seen Hobson "smiley and happy".

Two contrasting images of a man, who for a week in July last year was at the centre of a nationwide manhunt and brought fear to two close-knit communities in North Yorkshire.

Last sighting

Ms Hunter and Mr Richards, who knew Hobson from his days living in Selby, said: "Many a times there'd be police or ambulances... and there would be fighting.

"He was loud and really foul-mouthed... he was like a Jekyll and Hyde".

The man who lived next door to Hobson and his girlfriend Claire Sanderson may have been the last person to see Claire alive.

Neil Brooke said: "It was on the 6th or 7th of July and they were both walking out of the flat up the road.

Neighbour Don Earle
Neighbour Don Earle said the Brittons were a peaceful couple

"One of my cats jumped onto the wall and Claire went to stroke the cat and sort of smiled at me and walked off.

"They were both sort of smiley happy and they looked like they were in love."

If the killings of two young women in a flat in Camblesforth sent ripples of fear through the community, the impact of another double killing 26 miles away was even more pronounced.

Quiet elderly couple Joan and James Britton had probably just been in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Having been on the loose for around 12 hours Hobson found the couple going about their business on a calm, warm Sunday morning.

'No resistance'

The housebound pair, who had been married for 58 years, died together at the hands of a deranged killer.

Don Earle, a near neighbour and friend of the Brittons said :"To walk in and do this (killing)... it wouldn't be difficult. There wouldn't be any resistance".

Another neighbour of the frail couple David Baxter added: "Well, everybody seemed to like them and they were that type of people that spoke to everybody."

For a week the two communities tried to come to terms with the enormity of four killings, discovered within 24 hours of each other.

Map showing Selby area
Hobson was captured close to where he committed his crimes

For the North Yorkshire force that recorded only seven killings in the previous year, it was a huge case.

The breakthrough came the following Sunday afternoon when a shuffling, shambolic figure bought matches, cigarette papers and water from a country garage.

Robin Wilson, who runs a furniture shop on the same site as the garage, revealed what happened.

"The guy was walking from behind my shop premises. We've had a few troubles with local children causing a bit of damage and I thought maybe it was one of those people to start with.

"But then when I recognised it wasn't any of the local children and the guy looked so scruffy, I put two-and-two together that it could be the man they were hunting for.

"He looked very frail, he wasn't what I expected at all. He'd obviously lost a lot of weight."

Shortly afterwards police, including armed officers and dog units, arrived at the site and arrested Hobson who was sitting in a field a few yards behind the furniture shop.




SEE ALSO
Four deaths and a week on the run
18 Apr 05 |  North Yorkshire

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