Man recalls "very chilling" encounter with murderer Victor Farrant amid shock body discovery

A teenager fishing in Port Solent around the time Victor Farrant murdered Glenda Hoskins has spoken for the first time about the “very chilling” encounter he still vividly recalls to this day.
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Victor FarrantVictor Farrant
Victor Farrant

The boy was 15 when Mrs Hoskins, 45, was brutally murdered by Farrant on February 7, 1996, at her Sennen Place house where he drowned her in the bath before going on the run.

It was just a short walk away at Marina Keep that the then teenager, now 43, was fishing alone early one morning around 6am when he was approached by the “suave” and “calm” Farrant, distinctively and immaculately turned out in a long black suit. 

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An “odd” experience at the time, which the resident now reflects on as “harrowing”, turned sinister when he later discovered the man who spoke to him was Farrant - who was on the run for murder. The local said the strange exchange had also set “alarm bells ringing” when he and two friends discovered a drowned male body face down in a rut off the M275 northbound around three months before Mrs Hoskins was murdered. The leafy spot where they made the gruesome discovery, by the slipway turn-off for the M27 westbound, is around a 10-minute walk to Port Solent’s marina on the same side of the motorway.

Marina Keep in Port Solent where Victor Farrant approached a boy in a “chilling” encounter, close to Sennen Place where Glenda Hoskins was murdered. Pic: Google

Marina Keep in Port Solent where Victor Farrant approached a boy in a “chilling” encounter, close to Sennen Place where Glenda Hoskins was murdered. Pic: Google
Marina Keep in Port Solent where Victor Farrant approached a boy in a “chilling” encounter, close to Sennen Place where Glenda Hoskins was murdered. Pic: Google

Speaking of the bizarre meeting with Farrant, the local, who does not want to be named, told The News he was left uneasy by the approach and was prepared to defend himself. He said: “I was on my own fishing and Farrant was walking towards me from quite a distance as the road is perfectly straight. I’m not a knife carrier but always took a lock knife fishing to cut the line. I took the knife from my tackle box when I saw him approaching and had it open in my pocket. 

“It was so unusual to have a lone male without a dog in a long black suit walking towards the Ministry of Defence gates and me at that time of the morning. The questions he asked were equally odd at the time. He was asking me about the depths of the water, when I said I didn’t know, he was asking if the depths were four metres or five metres. 

“He was asking about the current and what bait I use and then he walked off. It was clear to me he did not know what the bait was that I told him, but I did not really think anything of it at the time. Then a few days later there was a large police presence and his mugshot was everywhere with him wanted for murder.

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“I wouldn’t know if he had committed the murder when we met, I didn’t know the time of death in relation to when we met. I know it was a maximum of seven days from me meeting him to his face being in the newspaper. I without doubt recognised him and I told the police this at the lock gates at Port Solent.”

Glenda Hoskins. Pic: Iain HoskinsGlenda Hoskins. Pic: Iain Hoskins
Glenda Hoskins. Pic: Iain Hoskins

The local recalled being struck by Farrant’s smart appearance. “He was really suave and calm, very friendly and quite slick. It was weird for him to be out there at that time in the morning dressed the way he was and asking those questions. He had no need to be out there at that time,” he said.

“It appears he was trying to find out information about how to dispose of a body. Although I was young, I wasn’t stupid. He was asking me questions innocently but it was just very odd.”

Asked how he feels now looking back on that encounter with a notorious fugitive killer and rapist, the man said: “No one’s asked me before how I feel about it and I’ve not really thought about it…but it is very chilling. I can honestly say I wouldn’t want to look at a picture of him. It’s a strange feeling. It’s creepy and sinister what happened.

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“I was just a kid at the time and he was asking me all these questions. I came face to face with him on my own by the sea when no one else was around. I was so young it didn’t bother me at the time but looking back it is quite harrowing.”

Despite serving a whole life sentence for the murder of Mrs Hoskins, Farrant, now 74, could be released on compassionate grounds after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. A Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) meeting took place last week to consider the case for Farrant’s release despite a vigorous campaign from Mrs Hoskins' three children Iain, Katie and David to keep him behind bars until he dies.

Farrant was given a whole life term and told by judge Mr Justice Butterfield at the 1998 Winchester Crown Court sentence: “You will never be released.”

The “master manipulator” was also jailed for 18 years for the attempted murder of 45-year-old sex worker Ann Fidler at the same sentence. Farrant, who lived in North End, was previously jailed for 12 years in 1988 for raping a woman and causing her grievous bodily harm as well as attacking another female with a bread knife. He met Mrs Hoskins on day release from prison in 1993, two years before his release from behind bars on November 7, 1995. 

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Just over a month after his release on December 27, 1995, Farrant went to visit Ms Fidler in Eastleigh before attacking her with bottles and an iron. Less than six weeks later he had killed Mrs Hoskins.

After his brush with Farrant, which appeared to be in the days leading up to Mrs Hoskins’ murder, the resident said he still finds it strange he found a body around the same time at a nearby location. The discovery of the corpse, thought to have been in November 1995, was investigated by police before a coroner ruled it as an accidental death due to drowning, he recalled. 

“We found a dead body face down in water by a bank off the M275 motorway near Port Solent. At first we thought it was a doll or something. He had big rigger boots on and was a dark blue colour,” the man said. “We told the police who turned up in an old Ford Cortina and interviewed us at the police station. In the end I believe the coroner deemed the death was accidental after he had drowned in about 12in of water.  

“Looking back (after the murder of Mrs Hoskins) I just found it a coincidence and had alarm bells ringing at the time. You’ve got a murder in Port Solent and a dead body nearby around the same time. But it was investigated and deemed an accidental death.”

Speaking of the campaign to keep Farrant behind bars, the local added: “I don’t blame them (Mrs Hoskins’ children).”

See Shots documentary on Victor Farrant and his possible release here.

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