For the past year, Brady had been cultivating a friendship with Smith, who appeared to have been brainwashed by Brady, and was noting in his own diary: “Rape is not a crime, it is a state of mind. Murder is a hobby and a supreme pleasure”. Yet in reality he was simply mouthing phrases because he admired the older man and wanted to be his friend. However, Smith told Brady he was talking rubbish when he claimed he had committed murder several times. Hindley had invited Smith to the house one night in early October 1965 on the pretext that Brady had wanted to give him some miniature wine bottles. Smith was waiting in the kitchen when he suddenly heard a loud scream from the adjacent living room as Myra shouted for him to go and “help Ian”.
Smith entered the room to find Brady in a murderous frenzy, repeatedly driving an axe into Evans’ head before stifling the lad’s final desperate gurgling with a length of electrical cord. Smith was then asked to help clean up the blood and bits of bone and brain matter in the living room, and help carry the body to the spare room upstairs and wrap it in a polythene bag trussed up with rope. Fearing for his life, Smith made an effort to maintain his composure as best as possible and complied. Afterwards, Brady asked Smith “Do you believe me now?”.
After agreeing to meet Brady the following afternoon to help dispose of Evans’ body, Smith promptly left the house. He frantically ran home and vomited in the toilet, sick with fear and disgust. He then woke his sleeping wife and told her of the brutal murder he had just witnessed. Maureen burst into tears and eventually told him that the only thing to do was to call the police. Three hours later at six o’clock on the morning of October 7, David and Maureen carefully made their way to a public phone box on the street below. Before leaving their flat, David armed himself with a screwdriver and a kitchen knife in order to defend the two of them in the event that Brady might suddenly appear and confront them. Smith made a 999 call to the police station in nearby Hyde and related his story to the officer on duty.
In his statement to the police Smith claimed that:
Shortly after, Police Superintendent Bob Talbot arrived to knock on the door of 16 Wardle Brook Avenue while wearing an inconspicuous breadman’s coat over his policeman’s uniform. Talbot was met by Hindley, who answered the door, and found Brady inside, lying naked on a divan and writing a note to his employer claiming he had suffered an ankle injury. Talbot explained that he was investigating an act of violence that was reported to have taken place the previous night and proceeded to search the house, Hindley denied that there had been any violence and allowed police to look around the house. When they came to the upstairs room in which Evans’ body was stored the police found the door locked, and asked Brady for the key. Hindley claimed that the key was at work, but after the police offered to drive her to her employer’s premises to retrieve it, Brady told her to hand the key over.
Upon discovering Evans’ body in the polythene bag, Talbot then arrested Brady. As Brady was getting dressed, he said “Eddie and I had a row and the situation got out of hand.” Hindley was not arrested with Brady but she demanded to go with him to the police station, accompanied by her dog Puppet, to which the police agreed. Hindley was questioned about the events surrounding Evans’ death, but she refused to make any statement beyond claiming that it had been an accident.
As the police had no evidence that Hindley was involved in Evans’ murder she was allowed to go home on the condition that she return the next day for further questioning.
Hindley was at liberty for four days following Brady’s arrest, during which time she went to her employer’s premises and asked to be dismissed so that she would be eligible for unemployment benefits. While in the office where Brady worked she found some papers belonging to him in an envelope that she claimed she did not open but burned in an ashtray, she believed that they were plans for bank robberies, nothing to do with the murders. On 11th October Hindley was charged as an accessory to the murder of Edward Evans and was remanded at Risley.
Brady admitted under police questioning that he and Evans had fought, but insisted that he and Smith had murdered Evans between them; Hindley, he said, had “only done what she had been told”. Smith told police that Brady and Hindley had hidden evidence in two suitcases stored in a left-luggage office somewhere in Manchester. British Transport Police were asked to search all of Manchester’s stations, and on 15th October found what they were looking for, a left-luggage ticket found tucked into a prayer book led police to a locker at Manchester Central station. Inside one of the cases were nine pornographic photographs taken of a young girl, naked and with a scarf tied across her mouth, and a 13-minute tape recording of her screaming and pleading for help. Ann Downey, Lesley Ann Downey’s mother, later listened to the tape after police had discovered the body of her missing 10-year-old daughter, and confirmed that it was a recording of her daughter’s voice.
Police searching the house at Wardle Brook Avenue also found an old exercise book in which the name “John Kilbride” had been scribbled, which made them suspicious that Brady and Hindley may have been involved in the unsolved disappearances of other youngsters. A large collection of photographs was discovered in the house, many of which seemed to have been taken on Saddleworth Moor. One hundred and fifty officers were drafted to search the moor, looking for locations that matched the photographs.
Initially the search was concentrated along the A628 road near Woodhead, but a close neighbour, 11-year-old Pat Hodges, had on several occasions been taken to the moor by Brady and Hindley and she was able to point out their favourite sites along the A635 road. On 16 October police found an arm bone sticking out of the peat; officers presumed that they’d found the body of John Kilbride but soon discovered that the body was that of Lesley Ann Downey. Ann Downey, later Ann West after her marriage to Alan West, had been on the moor watching as the police conducted their search, but was not present when the body was found. She was shown clothing recovered from the grave, and identified it as belonging to her missing daughter.
Detectives were able to locate another site on the opposite side of the A635 road from where Downey’s body was discovered and five days later they found the “badly decomposed” body of John Kilbride, whom they identified by his clothing. That same day, already being held for the murder of Evans, Brady and Hindley appeared at Hyde Magistrate’s Court charged with Lesley Ann Downey’s murder. Each was brought before the court separately and remanded into custody for a week. They made a two-minute appearance on 28 October and were again remanded into custody. The search for bodies continued, but with winter setting in it was called off in November. Presented with the evidence of the tape recording Brady admitted to taking the photographs of Lesley Ann Downey, but insisted that she had been brought to Wardle Brook Avenue by two men who had subsequently taken her away again, alive. Brady was further charged with the murder of John Kilbride, and Hindley with the murder of Edward Evans, on 2 December.
At the committal hearing on 6 December Brady was charged with the murders of Edward Evans, John Kilbride, and Lesley Ann Downey, and Hindley with the murders of Edward Evans and Lesley Ann Downey, as well as with harbouring Brady in the knowledge that he had killed John Kilbride. The prosecution’s opening statement was held in camera and the defence asked for a similar stipulation, but was refused. The proceedings continued in front of three magistrates in Hyde over an 11-day period during December, at the end of which the pair were committed for trial at Chester Assizes.
Many of the photographs taken by Brady and Hindley on the moor featured Hindley’s dog Puppet, sometimes as a puppy. Detectives arranged for the animal to be examined by a veterinary surgeon to determine its age from which they could date when the pictures were taken. The examination involved an analysis of the dog’s teeth, which required a general anaesthetic from which Puppet did not recover as he suffered from an undiagnosed kidney complaint. On hearing the news of her dog’s death Hindley became furious and accused the police of murdering Puppet, one of the few occasions detectives witnessed any emotional response from her. In a letter to her mother shortly afterwards Hindley wrote:
The trial was held over 14 days beginning on 19 April 1966, in front of Mr Justice Fenton Atkinson. Such was the public interest that the courtroom was fitted with security screens to protect Brady and Hindley. The pair were each charged with three murders, those of Evans, Downey, and Kilbride, as it was considered that there was by then sufficient evidence to implicate Hindley in Kilbride’s death. The prosecution was led by the Attorney General, Frederick Elwyn Jones. Brady was defended by the Liberal Member of Parliament Emlyn Hooson and Hindley was defended by Godfrey Heilpern, recorder of Salford from 1964, both experienced QCs.
David Smith was the chief prosecution witness, but during the trial it was revealed that he had entered into an agreement with a newspaper that he initially refused to name – even under intense questioning – guaranteeing him £1,000 (equivalent to about £10,000) for the syndication rights to his story if Brady and Hindley were convicted, something the trial judge described as a “gross interference with the course of justice”. Smith finally admitted in court that the newspaper was the News of the World, which had already paid for a holiday in France for him and his wife and was paying him a regular income of £20 per week, as well as accommodating him in a five-star hotel for the duration of the trial.
Brady and Hindley pleaded not guilty to the charges against them; both were called to give evidence, Brady for over eight hours and Hindley for six. Although Brady admitted to hitting Evans with an axe, he did not admit to killing him, arguing that the pathologist in his report had stated that Evans’ death was “accelerated by strangulation”. Under cross-examination by the prosecuting counsel, all Brady would admit was that “I hit Evans with the axe. If he died from axe blows, I killed him.” Hindley denied any knowledge that the photographs of Saddleworth Moor found by police had been taken near the graves of their victims.
The tape recording of Lesley Anne Downey, on which the voices of Brady and Hindley were clearly audible, was played in open court. Hindley admitted that her attitude towards the child was “brusque and cruel”, but claimed that was only because she was afraid that someone might hear Downey screaming. Hindley claimed that when Downey was being undressed she herself was “downstairs”; when the pornographic photographs were taken she was “looking out the window”; and that when the child was being strangled she “was running a bath”.
On 6 May, after having deliberated for a little over two hours, the jury found Brady guilty of all three murders and Hindley guilty of the murders of Downey and Evans. The Murder Act (Abolition of Death Penalty) had come into force during the time that Brady and Hindley were held in prison, abolishing the death penalty for murder and therefore the judge passed the only sentence that the law allowed: life imprisonment. Brady was sentenced to three concurrent life sentences and Hindley was given two, plus a concurrent seven-year term for harbouring Brady in the knowledge that he had murdered John Kilbride. Brady was taken to Durham Prison and Hindley was sent to Holloway Prison.
In his closing remarks Mr Justice Atkinson described the murders as a “truly horrible case” and condemned the accused as “two sadistic killers of the utmost depravity”. He recommended that both Brady and Hindley spend “a very long time” in prison before being considered for parole but did not stipulate a tariff. He stated that Brady was “wicked beyond belief” and that he saw no reasonable possibility of reform. He did not consider that the same was necessarily true of Hindley, “once she is removed from Brady’s influence”. Throughout the trial Brady and Hindley “stuck rigidly to their strategy of lying”, and Hindley was later described as “a quiet, controlled, impassive witness who lied remorselessly.
Brady and Hindley corresponded by letter until 1971, when she ended their relationship. The two remained in sporadic contact for several months, but Hindley had met and fallen in love with one of her prison officers, Patricia Cairns. A former assistant governor claimed that such relationships were not unusual in Holloway at that time, as “many of the officers were gay, and involved in relationships either with one another or with inmates”. Hindley successfully petitioned to have her status as a category A prisoner changed to category B, which enabled Governor Dorothy Wing to take her on a walk round Hampstead Heath, part of her unofficial policy of reintroducing her charges to the outside world when she felt they were ready. The excursion caused a furore in the national press and earned Wing an official rebuke from the then Home Secretary Robert Carr. With Cairns’ assistance and the outside contacts of another prisoner, Maxine Croft, Hindley planned a prison escape, but it was thwarted when impressions of the prison keys were intercepted by an off-duty policeman. Cairns was sentenced to six years in jail for her part in the plot. While in prison, Hindley wrote her autobiography, which remains unpublished.
Hindley was told that she should spend 25 years in prison before being considered for parole. The Lord Chief Justice agreed with that recommendation in 1982, but in January 1985 Home Secretary Leon Brittan increased her tariff to 30 years. By that time, Hindley claimed to be a reformed Roman Catholic. Ann West, the mother of Lesley Ann Downey, was at the centre of a campaign to ensure that Hindley was never released from prison, and until West’s death in February 1999, she regularly gave television and newspaper interviews whenever Hindley’s release was rumoured. In 1990, then Home Secretary David Waddington imposed a whole life tariff on Hindley, after she confessed to having a greater involvement in the murders than she had previously admitted. Hindley was not informed of the decision until 1994, when a Law Lords ruling obliged the Prison Service to inform all life sentence prisoners of the minimum period they must serve in prison before being considered for parole.
In 1997, the Parole Board ruled that Hindley was low risk and should be moved to an open prison. She rejected the idea and was moved to a medium security prison; the House of Lords ruling left open the possibility of later freedom. Between December 1997 and March 2000, Hindley made three separate appeals against her life tariff, claiming she was a reformed woman and no longer a danger to society, but each was rejected by the courts. When in 2002 another life sentence prisoner challenged the Home Secretary’s power to set minimum terms, Hindley and hundreds of others, whose tariffs had been increased by politicians, looked likely to be released from prison. Hindley’s release seemed imminent and plans were made by supporters for her to be given a new identity. Lord Longford, a devout Roman Catholic, campaigned to secure the release of “celebrated” criminals, and Myra Hindley in particular, which earned him constant derision from the public and the press. He described Hindley as a “delightful” person and said “you could loathe what people did but should not loathe what they were because human personality was sacred even though human behaviour was very often appalling”.
Home Secretary David Blunkett ordered Greater Manchester Police to find new charges against her, to prevent her release from prison. The investigation was headed by Superintendent Tony Brett, and initially looked at charging Hindley with the murders of Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett, but the advice given by government lawyers was that because of the DPP’s decision taken 15 years earlier, a new trial would probably be considered an abuse of process. Hindley “shouldered the greater public outrage” because of her gender, and she was popularly assumed to be “the devil incarnate”. The photographs and tape recording of the torture of Lesley Ann Downey, demonstrated in court to a disbelieving audience, and the cool responses of Brady and Hindley, helped to ensure the lasting notoriety of their crimes. Brady, who says that he does not want to be released, is rarely mentioned in the news, but Hindley’s repeated insistence on her innocence, and attempts to secure her release from prison, resulted in her becoming a figure of hate in the national media.
Brady spent 19 years in a mainstream prison (at one point befriending serial poisoner and fellow Nazi aficionado Graham Frederick Young) before he was declared mentally disordered in 1985 and sent to a mental hospital. In 1985 Brady allegedly confessed to Fred Harrison, a journalist working for The Sunday People, that he had also been responsible for the murders of Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett, something that the police already suspected, as both children lived in the same area as Brady and Hindley and had disappeared at about the same time as their other victims. The subsequent newspaper reports prompted the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) to reopen the case, in an investigation headed by Detective Chief Superintendent Peter Topping, who had been appointed Head of GMP’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) the previous year.
On 3 July 1985 Topping visited Brady, then being held at Gartree Prison, but found him “scornful of any suggestion that he had confessed to more murders”. Police nevertheless decided to resume their search of Saddleworth Moor, once more using the photographs taken by Brady and Hindley to help them identify possible burial sites. Meanwhile, in November 1986 Winnie Johnson, Keith Bennett’s mother, wrote a letter to Hindley begging to know what had happened to her son, a letter that Hindley seemed to be “genuinely moved” by. It ended:
Police visited Hindley, then being held in Cookham Wood, a few days after she had received the letter and although she refused to admit any involvement in the killings, she agreed to help by looking at photographs and maps to try to identify spots that she had visited with Brady. She showed particular interest in photographs of the area around Hollin Brown Knoll and Shiny Brook, but said that it was impossible to be sure of the locations without visiting the moor. The security considerations for such a visit were significant; there were threats made against her should she visit the moors, but Home Secretary Douglas Hurd agreed with Topping that it would be worth the risk.
Writing in 1989, Topping said that he felt “quite cynical” about Hindley’s motivation in helping the police. Although the letter from Winnie Johnson may have played a part, he believed that Hindley’s real concern was that, knowing of Brady’s “precarious” mental state, she was afraid that he might decide to co-operate with the police, and wanted to make certain that she, and not Brady, was the one to gain whatever benefit there may have been in terms of public approval.
Hindley made the first of two visits to assist the police search of Saddleworth Moor on 16 December 1986. Four police cars left Cookham Wood at 4:30 am. At about the same time, police closed all roads onto the moor, which was patrolled by 200 officers, 40 of them armed. Hindley and her solicitor arrived by helicopter from an airfield near Maidstone, touching down at 8:30 am. Wearing a donkey jacket and balaclava, she was driven and walked around the area. It was difficult for Hindley to make a connection between her memories of the area and what she saw on the day and she was apparently nervous of the helicopters flying overhead. At 3:00 pm she was returned to the helicopter and taken back to Cookham Wood. Topping was criticised by the press, who described the visit as a “fiasco”, a “publicity stunt”, and a “mindless waste of money”. He was forced to defend the visit, pointing out its benefits:
Topping continued to visit Hindley in prison, along with her solicitor Michael Fisher and her spiritual counsellor, the Reverend Peter Timms, who had been a prison governor before resigning to become a minister in the Methodist Church. She made a formal confession to police on 10 February 1987 admitting her involvement in all five murders, but news of her confession was not made public for more than a month. The tape recording of her statement was over 17 hours long; Topping described it as a “very well worked out performance in which, I believe, she told me just as much as she wanted me to know, and no more”. He also commented that he “was struck by the fact that she was never there when the killings took place. She was in the car, over the brow of the hill, in the bathroom and even, in the case of the Evans murder, in the kitchen.” Topping concluded that he felt he “had witnessed a great performance rather than a genuine confession”.
At about the same time, Winnie Johnson sent Hindley another letter, again pleading with her to assist the police in finding the body of her son Keith. In the letter, Johnson was sympathetic to Hindley over the criticism surrounding her first visit. Hindley, who had not replied to the first letter, responded by thanking Johnson for both letters explaining that her decision not to reply to the first resulted from the negative publicity that surrounded it. She claimed that had Johnson written to her 14 years earlier, she would have confessed and helped the police. She also paid tribute to Topping, and thanked Johnson for her sincerity.
Hindley made her second visit to the moor in March 1987. This time, the level of security surrounding her visit was considerably higher. She stayed overnight in Manchester, at the flat of the police chief in charge of GMP training at Sedgley Park, and visited the moor twice. She confirmed to police that the two areas in which they were concentrating their search – Hollin Brown Knoll and Hoe Grain – were correct, although she was unable to locate either of the graves. She did later remember though, that as Pauline Reade was being buried she had been sitting next to her on a patch of grass and could see the rocks of Hollin Brown Knoll silhouetted against the night sky.
Topping refused to allow Brady a second visit to the moors, and a few days after his visit Brady wrote a letter to BBC television reporter Peter Gould, giving some sketchy details of five additional murders that he claimed to have carried out. Brady refused to identify his alleged victims, and the police failed to discover any unsolved crimes matching the few details that he supplied. Hindley told Topping that she knew nothing of these killings. On 24 August 1987 police called off their search of Saddleworth Moor, despite not having found Keith Bennett’s body. Brady was taken to the moor for a second time on 1 December, but he was once again unable to locate the burial site. Although Brady and Hindley had confessed to the murders of Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett, the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) decided that nothing would be gained by a further trial; as both were already serving life sentences no further punishment could be inflicted and a second trial might even have helped Hindley’s case for parole by giving her a platform from which to make a public confession.
In 2003 the police launched ‘Operation Maida’ and again searched the moor for the body of Keith Bennett. They read statements from Brady and Hindley and also studied photographs taken by the pair. Their search was aided by the use of sophisticated modern equipment, including a US satellite used to look for evidence of soil movement. The BBC reported on 1 July 2009 that Greater Manchester Police had officially given up the search for Keith Bennett, saying that “only a major scientific breakthrough or fresh evidence would see the hunt for his body restart”. Keith Bennett’s body remains undiscovered as of 2015, although his family continues to search the moor, over 40 years after his disappearance.
David Smith became “reviled by the people of Manchester”, despite having been instrumental in bringing Brady and Hindley to justice. While her sister was on trial, Maureen, eight months pregnant, was attacked in the lift of the building in which she and David lived. Their home was vandalised and hate mail was regularly posted through their letterbox. Maureen feared for her children: “I couldn’t let my children out of my sight when they were little. They were too young to tell them why they had to stay in, to explain why they couldn’t go out to play like all the other children.” After knifing another man during a fight, in an attack he claimed was triggered by the abuse he had suffered since the trial, Smith was sentenced to three years in prison in 1969. That same year his children were taken into the care of the local authority. His wife Maureen moved from Underwood Court to a single-bedroom property, and found work in a department store.
Subjected to whispering campaigns and petitions to remove her from the estate where she lived, she received no support from her family – her mother had supported Myra during the trial. On his release from prison, David Smith moved in with the girl who became his second wife and won custody of his three sons. Maureen managed to repair the relationship with her mother and moved into a council property in Gorton. She divorced Smith in 1973 and married a lorry driver, Bill Scott, with whom she had a daughter. Maureen and her immediate family made regular visits to see Hindley, who reportedly adored her niece. In 1980 Maureen suffered a brain haemorrhage; Hindley was granted permission to visit her sister in hospital, but she arrived an hour after Maureen’s death. Sheila and Patrick Kilbride, who were by then divorced, were present at Maureen’s funeral, believing that Hindley might make an appearance.
Patrick Kilbride mistook Bill Scott’s daughter from a previous relationship, Ann Wallace, for Hindley and tried to attack her before being knocked to the ground by another mourner; the police were called to restore order. Shortly before her death at the age of 70 Sheila Kilbride said: “If she [Hindley] ever comes out of jail I’ll kill her.” In 1972, David Smith was acquitted of the murder of his father, who had been suffering from an incurable cancer. Smith pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to two days detention. He remarried and moved to Lincolnshire with his three sons, and was exonerated of any participation in the Moors murders by Hindley’s confession in 1987.
Joan Reade, Pauline Reade’s mother, was admitted to Springfield Mental Hospital in Manchester. She was present, under heavy sedation, at the funeral of her daughter on 7 August 1987. Five years after their son was murdered Sheila and Patrick Kilbride divorced. Ann West, mother of Lesley Ann Downey, died in 1999 from cancer of the liver. Since her daughter’s death, she had campaigned to ensure that Hindley remained in prison and doctors said that the stress had contributed to the severity of her illness. Winnie Johnson, mother of Keith Bennett, continued to visit Saddleworth Moor, where it is believed that the body of her son is buried. She died in 2012 at the age of 78 and was buried with her son’s glasses.
On 15 November 2002 at the age of 60, Hindley died from bronchial pneumonia caused by heart disease. She was a 40-a-day smoker who in 1999 had been diagnosed with angina and hospitalised after suffering a brain aneurysm. Cameras “crowded the pavement” outside, but none of Hindley’s relatives were among the congregation of six who attended a short service at Cambridge crematorium, as they were living anonymously in Manchester under assumed names. Such was the strength of feeling more than 35 years after the murders that a reported 20 local undertakers refused to handle her cremation.
Four months later, Hindley’s ashes were scattered by a former lover, a woman she had met in prison, less than 10 miles (16 km) from Saddleworth Moor in Stalybridge Country Park. Fears were expressed that the news might result in visitors choosing to avoid the park, a local beauty spot or even in the park being vandalised. Less than two weeks after Hindley’s death, on 25 November 2002, the Law Lords agreed that judges, not politicians, should decide how long a criminal spends behind bars, and thus stripped the Home Secretary of the power to set minimum sentences. The house in which Brady and Hindley lived on Wardle Brook Avenue and where Edward Evans was murdered, was demolished by the local council.
Brady is incarcerated in the high-security Ashworth Psychiatric Hospital, and after he began a hunger strike in 1999 he was subsequently force fed. Brady fell ill and was transported to another hospital for tests. He eventually recovered and was considering suing the hospitals for force-feeding him. In early 2006 prison authorities intercepted a package, addressed to Brady from a female friend, containing 50 paracetamol pills hidden within a hollowed out crime novel. Brady has also written a controversial book on serial killing titled “The Gates Of Janus”. He also apparently has an agreement that will see his memoirs published as an autobiography after his death, at which point we may understand from his view some motive behind the murders, beyond the information we have on his early life and exhibitions of rage and hatred he felt towards society.
It has been reported that Brady is furious that a drama documentary based on the murder was shown on ITV1 in May 2006. He has bragged to various newspapers that he has stopped four previous films from being made. Despite his incarceration, Brady (and his murders) still provide headlines for the UK tabloid press. Fellow prisoner Linda Calvey told the The Daily Mirror that, before her death in November 2002, Hindley confessed their killing of a young female hitch-hiker.
According to Chris Cowley, Brady regrets Hindley’s imprisonment and the consequences of their actions, but not necessarily the crimes themselves. He sees no point in making any kind of public apology; instead, he “expresses remorse through actions”. Twenty years of transcribing classical texts into Braille came to an end when the authorities confiscated his translation machine, for fear it might be used as a weapon. He once offered to donate one of his kidneys to “someone, anyone who needed one”, but was blocked from doing so. According to Colin Wilson, “it was because these attempts to express remorse were thrown back at him that he began to contemplate suicide.”
Winnie Johnson, the mother of undiscovered victim, 12-year-old Keith Bennett, received a letter from Brady at the end of 2005 in which, she said, he claimed that he could take police to within 20 yards (18m) of her son’s body but the authorities would not allow it. In 2012 Brady applied to be returned to prison, reiterating his desire to starve himself to death. At a subsequent mental health tribunal, held in June the following year, Brady claimed that he suffered not from paranoid schizophrenia as his doctors at Ashworth maintained, but rather a personality disorder. His application was rejected, with the judge stating that Brady “continues to suffer from a mental disorder which is of a nature and degree which makes it appropriate for him to continue to receive medical treatment”. Immediately following the trial, Hindley lodged an unsuccessful appeal against her conviction.
Retribution was a common theme amongst those who sought to keep her locked away, and even Hindley’s mother insisted that she should die in prison, although out of fear for her daughter’s safety, and the desire to avoid the possibility that one of the victims’ relatives might kill her. Some commentators expressed the view that of the two, Hindley was the “more evil”. In 1987 she admitted that the plea for parole she had submitted to the Home Secretary eight years earlier was “on the whole, a pack of lies”, and to some reporters her co-operation in the searches on Saddleworth Moor “appeared a cynical gesture aimed at ingratiating herself to the parole authorities”.
The photographs and tape recording of the torture of Lesley Ann Downey, exhibited in court to a disbelieving audience, and the nonchalant responses of Brady and Hindley, helped to ensure the lasting notoriety of their crimes. Brady, who says that he does not want to be released, was rarely mentioned in the news, but Hindley’s gender, her repeated insistence on her innocence, followed by her attempts to secure her release after confessing her guilt, resulted in her becoming a figure of hate in the national media. Her oft-reprinted photograph, taken shortly after she was arrested, is described by some commentators as similar to the mythical Medusa and, according to author Helen Birch, has become “synonymous with the idea of feminine evil”.
The death of John Straffen in November 2007, who had spent 55 years in prison for a triple child murder, meant that Brady became the longest serving prisoner in England and Wales, he is now 77 years old.