Mackay was walking in the woods near his mother's home when he came across a Carmelite convent, the home of eight nuns who took in geriatric patients. Father Crean and his dog lived in a cottage nearby. He made it a point to befriend people who looked like they needed a friend, and Mackay fit that category. But no one can really befriend a psychopath: They do not have the emotions required for true bonding.
Crean bought Mackay a drink in a local pub, and eventually they were meeting there regularly, but Mackay couldn't resist his criminal impulses, so he broke into the priest's home and stole a check for thirty pounds. Crean reported it and Mackay was arrested. Crean did not wish to prosecute, but the police did, so the case went to court and Mackay was ordered to repay the priest. He said he would, but never did, so it became a source of contention between them, especially since Mackay had changed the original "30" into "80," so he owed his friend a substantial sum. This incident caused a rift between them, and Mackay returned to London.
|Mackay at Trafalgar Square|
He went through a succession of jobs and places to stay, ended up in jail, and was given a slight fine and a suspended sentence for yet more criminal conduct. In short, he got away with more aggression, in part because the system simply did not know what to do with someone with his erratic and potentially dangerous temperament. They had no resources for it and no way to warrant detaining him.
Clark and Penycate say that it's possible that by this time Mackay had already killed five people, doing so in the final months of 1973. He later admitted to drowning a tramp in the River Thames, but the police suspected him in other violent incidents. No charges were filed on these as there was no evidence that connected Mackay to them.
But for a murder in February 1974, it was a different story.