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Living in serial killer Peter Tobin's house in Irvine Drive, Margate, 13 years after tragic discovery of Vicky Hamilton and Dinah McNicol

A children’s slide and trampoline take pride of place in the back garden of 50 Irvine Drive, an unexceptional, mid-terrace council house in Margate .

In the summer, the sounds of six-year-old Lottie Dengate fill the air as she plays outside, drawing pictures on her chalkboard and pottering in her Wendy house.

The garden has been transformed into a place for children to play
The garden has been transformed into a place for children to play

But this picture of happiness belies the horrors uncovered just yards away on a cold November’s week in 2007.

For in the corner of the garden were once buried the remains of two girls, their lives snatched from them by the sadistic serial killer who previously called this unassuming home his own.

Their dismembered bodies had been dropped in a 6ft hole and covered with concrete cap and earth by Peter Tobin, who built a sandpit above their graves.

When police made the harrowing discovery, twisted Tobin - who moved out of the house in 1993 - was already behind bars, six months into a life sentence for the murder of another young woman.

But he had left behind the remains of two of his victims.

The family living in the house at the time immediately left, unable to live with the horrors of what had been found in the shadow of their home.

Police officers at Irvine Drive, Margate Picture: Nick Evans
Police officers at Irvine Drive, Margate Picture: Nick Evans

But two years later, the infamous property caught the eye of Abigail Dengate, a stay-at-home mum living in a cramped flat around the corner in Palmer Crescent with her dad and two children, then aged 11 and 6.

Desperate for more space, and having waited for a new home for four years, she put in a bid to Thanet council to move into empty number 50.

She admits the decision raised eyebrows, but 11 years on she still lives at the three-bedroom home with her dad and three children, Craig, 21, Kyra, 17, and six-year-old Lottie.

"We didn't have any room in the last place,” she recalls.

“We were sharing bedrooms - my son was in with my dad and my daughter in with me - so it was a relief to finally have some space.

"Even though people might have thought it strange that we wanted to live here, to us we didn't care about what had happened in the past - it's a house.

Abigail Dengate in her garden at 50 Irvine Drive in Margate
Abigail Dengate in her garden at 50 Irvine Drive in Margate

"I don't mean that we don't care what happened to the girls, that was horrible, but I mean it didn't bother us living here."

Now, the house appears like any other.

Inside, the cosy living room is filled with toys, and the garden has been transformed with a colourful fence running down the middle and a children's play zone with a slide, play house and trampoline.

The front garden is tidy, with a rainbow hanging in the downstairs window and a welcome mat on the front step.

It's a far cry from the upsetting images of 2007, when police descended on the house to carry out a painstaking search.

Tobin had recently been convicted of the murder of 23-year-old Polish student Angelika Kluk, who he had beaten, raped and stabbed in Glasgow before concealing her in an underground chamber beneath the floor of a church.

Peter Tobin Picture: Edinburgh Evening News
Peter Tobin Picture: Edinburgh Evening News

Forensic evidence suggested she was still alive when she was placed under the floorboards.

Tobin was convicted of her murder and jailed for life in May 2007, with new evidence giving police cause to start searching his former homes .

It led them to 50 Irvine Drive, where Tobin had moved to from Bathgate in West Lothian, Scotland, as part of a house swap in 1991.

Forensic officers spent days meticulously searching the property as camera crews lined the street and neighbours stood on their doorsteps, clamouring for a look as morbid curiosity swept the community.

On November 14 police found the remains of a young girl later identified as 15-year-old Vicky Hamilton , who had last been seen waiting for a bus in Falkirk, Scotland, in February 1991.

Two days later police discovered more remains, this time those of 18-year-old Dinah McNicol , who vanished while hitchhiking home from a music festival in Hampshire in August 1991.

Dinah McNicol
Dinah McNicol

Courts would later be told how Tobin murdered Vicky five weeks before moving to Margate, and Dinah five months after arriving at Irvine Drive.

He buried them both in the garden, convincing his unsuspecting neighbours he was digging a sandpit.

Following the discovery, Dinah’s father, Ian McNicol, called for the house to be bulldozed and a memorial garden put in its place.

But due to difficulties with it being mid-terrace and the need for housing in the area, Thanet council instead refurbished it, ready for a new family .

Miss Dengate and her family moved in in 2009 and quickly made it their own home.

She recently renovated the garden to make it nice for the children, particularly her youngest.

The scene of the search in Irvine Drive Picture: Dave Downey
The scene of the search in Irvine Drive Picture: Dave Downey

"It doesn't bother us; it's a house, that's it, and we're really happy here," she says.

"My youngest doesn't know what happened here but my other children do and they're fine with; they like living here."

Miss Dengate, 38, admits people are fascinated by the history of the house and says when she first moved in there were journalists knocking at the door.

"People up the school know where we live and I get asked if there are any ghosts," she said.

"I stand by my kitchen window when I smoke and I see people go past, slowing down, pointing out 'that's the Tobin house', probably thinking 'wow, someone's actually living there'."

The previously grim spot in the back left-hand corner of the garden is now sectioned off with a new fence and is covered in decking, with a pergoda and colourful plant pots hanging from the fence.

Vicky Hamilton
Vicky Hamilton

Bird feeders and a decorative mobile hang down, and a bench with a bright pink cushion provides a place to sit.

It has been turned into a spot to enjoy, with all trace of death and misery erased.

"We've been here years, but I've only just got around to doing the garden and I'm pleased with it," Miss Dengate said.

"When we moved in the house had already been decorated and so we were able to just move all our furniture in and make it ours.

"We moved here when I just had my two eldest and I've had another child while we've been living here, so it really is a family home."

In 2008, Tobin, now 74, was convicted of the abduction, rape and murder of Vicky Hamilton and jailed for life.

Dinah McNicol
Dinah McNicol

The following year he was given another life sentence for the kidnap and murder of Dinah , whose bank card he used in Margate and Ramsgate after killing her.

Tobin is currently behind bars at Edinburgh’s Saughton Prison, where reports earlier this year suggested he was at death’s door as he battles cancer . He will never be released.

In 2016, a former police detective said he was sure Tobin had killed others .

But Miss Dengate does not concern herself with the past and has no regrets about taking on what was once dubbed a “house of horrors”.

"The need for space outweighed everything else, as we had no room in the last place," she said.

"This is our home now."

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