AS her new husband lovingly smiled for their wedding snaps with his muscular arm around her waist, Cecilia King’s life appeared to be complete.
She and dapper bodybuilder groom Tony already had a beautiful two-month-old daughter Sabrina and were about to jet off for a new life on Spain’s Costa del Sol.
Yet, Tony King was harbouring a dark secret that would have devastatingly tragic consequences after they found their place in the sun.
For, unbeknownst to Cecilia, she had just married the Holloway Strangler.
The barman – real name Tony Bromwich – had served five years behind bars after using an electrical flex to choke a string of victims before molesting them.
After arriving in Spain, King would pick up another alias – the Costa Killer – after savagely murdering two young women, again without his wife’s knowledge.
When the truth slowly dawned on Cecilia that she had married a murderer she summoned up the courage to go to the police.
“You feel dirty, betrayed and lied to,” a tearful Cecilia exclusively told the Sun of her husband’s macabre betrayal.
“You don’t want anyone to touch you anymore. You wash yourself, cut your hair, dye your hair to try and change your appearance so that no one looks at you.”
The raw grief etched into her face, the mum told how she struggled to explain his heinous crimes to her daughter Sabrina.
Speaking from her modest terraced house in Barnsley, she added: “Two innocent young girls… How can I explain that to my daughter? How can I explain any of it?
“That was her dad, she idolised him. She loved him so much. I used to say to Sabrina, ‘Love your daddy’. So I feel guilty.”
‘He seemed normal to me’
Cecilia’s courageous role in helping detectives catch her psychopath husband features in a new Netflix documentary called Murder By The Coast which premieres today.
Born in Santiago, Chile, in 1966, Cecilia’s family arrived in the UK as political refugees when she was eight and settled in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.
After a failed marriage, she moved to London aged 28 in 1995 to find work, initially as a receptionist.
Her life was blighted forever one evening a year later when a charming stranger smiled and asked her for a cigarette at a South London nightclub.
Recalling that ominous encounter at Goodfellas nightclub in Streatham, South London, Cecilia revealed: “He caught my eye.
“I was dancing and he was asking for a cigarette and we got talking. It was Tony King.
“Physically, he looked like he worked out but I looked at his smile. That’s why I talked to him. I thought he looked like a decent fella.
“He told me and my friends a hard luck story, that he didn’t have any money to get home.
“So we offered him a lift and I let him stay with me. Soon we were going out together.
“He seemed to like me, respect me and to want to do the best for me.
“He seemed normal to me. I took him at face value. But unbeknownst to me, he was the Holloway Strangler.”
History of violence
In 1986 Tony Bromwich had received a ten-year sentence at the Old Bailey for attacking four women and a teenage girl during a five-week reign of terror.
Judge Thomas Pigot described former choirboy King as a “Jekyll and Hyde” figure motivated by sexual inadequacy and told him that all the women he attacked could have died.
Just five years later – after changing his name by deed poll to Tony King – he was back on the streets.
After he and Cecilia began dating King became jealous of life in a shared house in Croydon.
Stroking her pet Pomeranian Chico, Cecilia revealed: “He soon became sulky, he didn’t like me living there. So I moved in with him to his place in Carshalton Beeches.
“Then I got pregnant too quickly. That’s when I found out he’d been in prison.
“When I told him about the pregnancy, he said he’d been in prison for armed robbery. There was no mention of his sex attacks.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God, what have I got myself into?’ But I gave him a chance because of my daughter.”
Daughter Sabrina was born in April 1997. Two months later King and Cecilia married at Sutton Register Office, South London, with a reception for 50 at The Woodman pub in nearby Carshalton.
Today Cecilia admits she never loved King but married him out of a sense of duty to her daughter.
That September the young family jetted to the Costa del Sol for a new life in the sunshine. King had initially rebuffed the idea but Cecilia believes his sudden change of heart was because he wanted to escape police scrutiny.
She would later discover he was wanted by Surrey Police for an attack on a Hungarian student at Leatherhead station in August 1997, just weeks after they married.
Butchered teenager’s body found
Arriving in Fuengirola, Spain, with £1,000 in their pockets, King found work selling time shares while Cecilia took part time bar and cleaning work while looking after Sabrina.
Asked if King mistreated her physically, Cecilia insisted: “He didn’t do anything out of the ordinary.
“I didn’t feel scared of him – until I found who he really was.”
Then on October 9, 1999, pretty teenager Rocio Wanninkhof vanished after leaving her boyfriend’s home in La Cala de Mijas near Fuengirola to walk home.
The 19-year-old’s disfigured body, stabbed nine times, was found on November 2 that year by a tennis club a 25-minute drive away between Marbella and San Pedro.
Rocio’s mum’s ex-lover Dolores Vasquez was arrested and convicted of the savage killing in a jury trial before being exonerated after a string of police and court blunders that left deep scars on the Spanish judicial system.
Cecilia – then living with King in Riviera del Sol near Fuengirola – added: “When Rocio went missing it was all over the news, everyone was so shocked.
“I read a report in an English language newspaper that indicated they were looking for someone like Tony with a Ford Fiesta.
“On the night of Rocio’s disappearance Tony had borrowed my friend’s car which was a Ford Fiesta.
“When he came back that evening he went to the toilet. I was watching TV.
“He was ages in there. Instead of leaving the bathroom all messy like he normally did, he left it all clean and tidy.
“I thought, ‘That’s weird’. It stuck in my mind.”
‘I was very suspicious’
She had voiced her suspicions about King to family and close friends who thought she was being “silly”.
“I was very suspicious but had no evidence,” she said. “I didn’t go to the police because I had no proof.
“I never asked Tony about it but I left him and went to live on a campsite on my own.”
She began a relationship with David Cooze with whom she had a son, Thomas.
Cecilia says cocaine abuser King – who still visited Sabrina – was “jealous” of her new relationship.
Then, four years after Rocio’s murder, the decomposing remains of a second teenager was found in her home town of Coin, a 30-minute drive north of Marbella.
Sonia Carabantes, 17, had been snatched on August 14, 2003, yards from the front door of her family home a ten-minute drive from King’s bolthole as she headed for bed after a night out.
Cecilia revealed: “David and I were watching TV at home in Fuengirola and it was on the news about Sonia.
“We looked at each other and said ‘Tony!’ straight away.
“I said, ‘How do you know! and he replied: ‘I’ve been thinking he’s dodgy for a long time’.
“It turned out David had seen cuts on Tony’s wrist and his arm bandaged up and a light knocked out on his car when he came to pick up Sabrina.”
Psychopath killer snared
David advised Cecilia to go to the police.
“When I told Scotland Yard I was married to this guy, they said they were looking for him and asked me to contact Spanish police straight away,” she said.
Following his arrest, the sadistic killer, described as a psychopath by experts, admitted committing both crimes to police but later tried to wriggle out of his confessions.
Cecilia then found the strength to testify against her husband in a Spanish court.
She recalled: “It was horrible. My heart was booming. I could hear it in my temples.
“I tried not to look at him and concentrated on answering the questions.”
King was sentenced to 55 years for the two teen murders and an additional seven years for an unrelated rape.
He now spends all but three hours a day inside his cell at high-security Herrera de La Mancha Prison in the province of Ciudad Real, a two-hour drive south of Madrid.
Then in 2007, 10-year-old Sabrina drowned in a swimming pool leaving Cecilia utterly devastated.
‘Cruel death’ agony
Today, aged 55, Cecilia’s back in Barnsley living with son Thomas, 18.
Jobless, she split with partner David although they remain close friends.
She only divorced King in 2019 due to the “prohibitive” cost of formally dissolving their marriage in Spain.
Cecilia has reignited her love of art and drawing and harbours dreams of returning to Chile.
“I’m not the person I used to be unfortunately,” she says. “I’m scared to build a relationship and I’m very suspicious of people I don’t know.
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“I used to be very outgoing and friendly. Tony King took that away from me.
“Even though I’ve lost my own daughter, I can’t begin to imagine how you can cope as a parent with knowing that your loved one suffered such a cruel and painful death as those two girls.
“Fortunately I’m still alive and I can carry on with my life. It’s tragic that those girls can’t but looking back I could have been one of them.”
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