Bobbi-Anne McLeod: hundreds line streets of Plymouth for funeral | Plymouth

Hundreds of mourners lined the streets of Plymouth for the funeral of the murdered teenager Bobbi-Anne McLeod as city leaders acknowledged more needed to be done to keep women and girls safe.

McLeod’s favourite music – alternative rock – was played at the service in the city centre church of St Andrew and many mourners wore band T-shirts and black jeans in tribute to the 18-year-old.

The funeral came six months after McLeod was abducted from a bus stop and murdered, and a week after her killer, Cody Ackland, 24, was jailed for at least 30 years.

Outside the church, Johnny Mercer, the MP for Plymouth Moor View, said the crime had devastated not only McLeod’s family but the whole city. “Bobbi-Anne was clearly a very special person who touched the hearts of so many people,” he said.

The funeral procession arrives at St Andrew’s church.
Many mourners wore band T-shirts and black jeans. Photograph: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

Her murder in November 2021 came just three months after Jake Davison, a 22-year-old apprentice crane operator who harboured extreme misogynistic views, shot dead five people in the Keyham area of Plymouth.

Mercer said: “Stranger murders and mass shootings are two of the rarest crimes but it doesn’t feel like that in Plymouth at the moment. Women and girls are frightened and we have a job of work to address that.”

There were many poignant moments. People left flowers and balloons on a memorial bench opposite the bus stop in the Leigham area of the city where McLeod was attacked and abducted.

McLeod’s coffin was taken by horse-drawn carriage from a pub car park near the bus stop down the hill to the church.

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At the door, mourners were handed blue ribbons, McLeod’s favourite colour, and asked for donations for pink bands for charity that read: “My heart is with you for ever Bobbi-Anne.” Inside, songs played included Iris by the American alternative rock band Goo Goo Dolls and a Puff Daddy track.

Bobbi-Anne McLeod
Bobbi-Anne McLeod was abducted and murdered in November 2021. Photograph: Devon & Cornwall police/PA

Bands that McLeod loved – Pink Floyd, Nirvana, AC/DC, Queen and Eminem – were well represented on mourners’ T-shirts. People respected the family’s request not to wear ripped jeans, an item of clothing McLeod was wearing when she was abducted.

Ackland, a guitarist in a local rock band, attacked McLeod with a claw hammer before kidnapping her and carrying out a prolonged assault in a forest, causing “catastrophic” injuries to her head and face.

He then drove 28 miles, stripped McLeod and dumped her body close to a beach. In subsequent days he went out with friends and rehearsed with his band, appearing more joyful and affectionate than usual.

Three days later he handed himself in and detectives were shocked to find a cache of 3,000 graphic images on his phone revealing his obsession with the serial killer Ted Bundy.

Crimes against women have risen in Devon and Cornwall during the last year. Recorded crime as a whole is up 11% but rape has risen by 19% and other sexual offences by 29%. Women and girls say they have become frightened to go out alone.

Plymouth city council is about to publish a report from a violence against women and girls commission set up after McLeod’s murder. The commission is expected to include 15 recommendations ranging from finding practical ways of making the city safer to attempting to change fundamental negative attitudes towards women and girls.

Rebecca Smith, the council’s cabinet member for homes and communities, said: “We’ve been listening and are 100% aware of the fear and uncertainty. We recognise that one of the big issues is education and how we change the culture. We want to live in a city where people call out sexism.”

Sally Haydon, the Labour party’s police and crime spokesperson in Plymouth, said: “A young woman with her whole future ahead of her should have been able to wait at a bus stop without losing her life. Urgent action needs to be taken both at a national and local level to address the issues which mean we are seeing these terrible events happening at an alarming level.”

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