The head of Greater Manchester police’s cold case review unit has said his force will never give up the search for the remains of Keith Bennett, despite Ian Brady going to his grave without having revealed the whereabouts of the 12-year-old murder victim’s body.
“Whilst we are not actively searching Saddleworth Moor, Greater Manchester police will never close this case. Brady’s death does not change that,” Martin Bottomley said after the Moors murderer died on Monday aged 79 at Ashworth secure hospital at Maghull, Merseyside.
Keith’s mother, Winnie Johnson, died in August 2012 without knowing the location of her son’s body, despite a near 50-year campaign to find him and give him a Christian burial. Brady repeatedly refused to say where on Saddleworth Moor he buried Keith.
Bottomley praised the “incredible dignity” of the families of the victims of Brady and Myra Hindley, Brady’s girlfriend and accomplice, who died in 2002. “I do not want to comment on Brady at all,” Bottomley said. “The thoughts of everyone within Greater Manchester police are with the families who lost loved ones in the most painful and traumatic way.
“It is especially saddening for the family of Keith Bennett that his killers did not reveal to police the whereabouts of Keith’s burial site. A week hardly goes by when we do not receive some information which purports to lead us to Keith, but ultimately only two people knew where Keith is.
“I want to stress that our aim, as it always has been, is to find where Keith is buried and give closure to his surviving family members so they can give Keith the proper burial they so desperately want.”
Brady was jailed in 1966 for the killings of John Kilbride, 12, Lesley Ann Downey, 10, and Edward Evans, 17. He escaped the death penalty after the abolition of capital punishment just months earlier. He went on to admit to the murders of Pauline Reade, 16, and Bennett.
Brady’s lawyer, Robin Makin, told Radio 4’s Today programme he would be “very surprised” if the killer had had any useful information about where Keith’s body was. “He did go to the moors a long time ago and I suspect that if there had been information for him that he could have provided, he would have provided it then,” Makin said.
Terry West, the brother of Lesley Ann Downey, told MailOnline: “I poured myself a glass of wine when I found out, we’ve been waiting for this day for such a long time. It’s closure for our family.
“But I really feel for Keith Bennett’s brother Alan and the rest of his family – this probably means they’ll never know where his body was buried.
“He’s taken it to the grave. There’s still one poor kiddie up there on the moors. My heart goes out to Alan, at least I’ve got somewhere that I can visit our Les, he hasn’t even got that.”