Ian Brady, Moors murderer, dies aged 79

Brady had been receiving palliative care at Ashworth psychiatric hospital on Merseyside

Obituary: Ian Brady

Ian Brady, the Moors murderer, has died in high-security hospital aged 79, an NHS spokesman has said.

Brady, who revealed he had a lung and chest condition in December, had been receiving palliative care from cancer nurses at Ashworth psychiatric hospital on Merseyside.

Mersey Care NHS foundation trust, which runs Ashworth hospital, confirmed that a 79-year-old male patient died after becoming unwell.

A spokesman said Brady died at 6.03pm on Monday. He was unable to say what Brady died of, but said the killer had been on oxygen for a while.

Brady and his then-girlfriend Myra Hindley sexually tortured and murdered five children between 1963 and 1965, burying at least four of the bodies on Saddleworth Moor, near Oldham.

The body of one of his victims, 12-year-old Keith Bennett, has never been found despite pleas from the boy’s relatives for Brady to reveal his burial site.

Brady and Hindley were convicted of three murders in 1966, and details of two further victims emerged in the 1980s. Hindley died in prison in 2002 after an unsuccessful legal fight against successive home secretaries’ decisions that she should remain behind bars for the rest of her life. She had suffered a suspected heart attack and died in West Suffolk hospital, in Bury St Edmunds.

Brady was transferred to maximum security psychiatric hospital in 1985 after being diagnosed as a psychopath. He spoke of wanting to die and went on “hunger strike”, but was force-fed.

In 2013, he unsuccessfully attempted to get himself transferred to a Scottish prison where he would not be force-fed and could “have control over the manner and timing of his death”, although his claim to have been on hunger strike for 14 years was undermined by his barrister, who said he ate toast and soup most days.

In February this year, he was refused permission for another court bid to be transferred to prison. His lawyers said he had emphysema and was terminally ill.

Brady wrote to the Guardian journalist Eric Allison in 2006, saying that he wanted to die and described his life at Ashworth.

“Haven’t exercised in the open air since 1975; walking from a matchbox into a shoebox of sunshine only reminded me of where I was and could be,” he wrote.

“Three deacades [sic] devoid of sunshine hasn’t affected my health unfortunately, despite my smoking the strongest tobacco. My luck has run out I can’t even catch cancer.”

His hunger strike, he wrote, was intended to allow him “to exit this sterile existence entirely”.

Keith’s mother, Winnie Johnson, died from cancer in 2012 having never learned the truth of what happened to him.

In what was thought to be her final interview in 2012, Johnson spoke of her fear that Brady would take the knowledge of what happened to her son with him when he died himself, in what she said would be a “final sick twist”.

Shortly before her death, she told the Sun she was “running out of time” and just wanted to bring her son home. “But I feel in my heart he (Brady) won’t ever tell me. He hasn’t remorse. I can’t see why he has done this to me.”

She added: “I don’t know now if Brady will ever tell me where my Keith is buried. He could take it to the grave with him. I suppose that would be his final sick twist. Or he could give me hope like he has done before and then nothing would come of it.”

Finding her son’s remains would mean her “dying wish had come true and we had finally got Keith home”, she said.

Terry Kilbride, whose brother John, 12, was also murdered by Brady, begged him to tell police where he dumped the body of Keith Bennett, who went missing aged 12 in 1964.

Kilbride told the Sun: “I would beg him to do the right thing on his deathbed and tell us where Keith is. Now is the time for him to stop playing tricks and come clean.

“If he takes it to the grave, I will feel so sorry for Keith’s family. There will only ever be another search if there’s fresh evidence. That has to come from him.” Kilbride said he hopes the killer “rots in hell”.

The family of Lesley Ann Downey, Brady’s youngest victim, were also put through fresh pain in the subsequent years, when the young girl’s brother and niece were killed by an arsonist who was obsessed with the Moors murders.

Tommy West, 45 and his eight-year-old daughter Kimberley were trapped inside the house when Caz Telfer set it alight. She was convicted of manslaughter and two arson charges in 2002 and was released from prison in 2013.


Alice Ross

The GuardianTramp