'I feel like they've still got him': brother's search for Moors victim

Alan Bennett describes meeting Myra Hindley and his battle over Ian Brady’s locked briefcases

Alan Bennett scribbles a map of Saddleworth Moor on to a scrap piece of paper, drawing prominent landmarks near the A635 where he has repeatedly searched for the remains of his older brother Keith, who was abducted and murdered by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in 1964.

He draws rock formations and scratches out lines to show the areas of Shiny Brook, Hollin Brown Knoll and Hoe Grain where other Moors victims were found and where Keith is also believed to be buried.

Bennett was eight when his 12-year-old brother was abducted. Now 62, much of his life has been consumed by the goal of laying Keith to rest. He says the family have not been able to grieve their loss.

Every year just before Christmas, Bennett says he drives to the moors alone and plays a cassette tape of his brother singing during a family gathering six months before he was murdered. “It is a special thing to the family. I drive up to the moor, play the tape outside the car on the moor, just to get a feeling of ‘We have not forgotten you’. It is something I have to do,” he says.

Over the years Bennett has written dozens of letters to Brady and Hindley in an attempt to extract information about his brother’s remains, and in 1998 he secretly met Hindley twice in prison. “The case had gone cold and I thought I would give it a go. I was on my own. I didn’t tell anybody. I didn’t even tell my mum,” he says.

Alan Bennett with brothers Ian and Keith
Alan Bennett, left, with brothers Ian and Keith. Photograph: MEN Media

“I sat in this room, waiting, all nervy, thinking what to say. The thing was not to lead her – let her tell me what she knew. A man who was from the Home Office popped his head into the room and said good luck, which made me even more stressed. A woman walked in and left some cups. Then this woman walked in with a stick, and hobbling. I looked at her and thought: that’s not Hindley either. But it was. She had dark hair and was wearing a trouser suit – nothing like I expected. I suppose I still had that picture of her in my head.

“She started walking towards me. She said: ‘Hello Alan,’ and I stood up and I looked her in the face. It was her eyes and her nose. I thought: this is her. I didn’t know what to do and stood up and said hello.

“She started crying and put her arms round my side and said: ‘I am so sorry for the trouble I have caused and the pain I have caused over the years, and for being such a coward.’ Next thing she was sat next to me and said: ‘I do want you to know that I never touched Keith, I never murdered him, but I am as guilty as Brady because I put him in the car. I knew what was going to happen to him, but I never laid a finger on him.”

Hindley agreed to view photographs that she and Brady had taken in the aftermath of the moors killings to help identify where Keith’s body was. She suggested they should meet again with detectives present to scrutinise the photographs together.

“She did seem genuine in her desire to help, and genuinely upset. She did break down when she saw me. She said she thought Keith was in the vicinity of Hoe Grain, which is near a layby off the A635 but quickly becomes hidden from the road.

“She was concerned that people thought her prison was a holiday camp and invited me into her room. On the wall was a picture of a waterfall. She said had a problem with Keith and waterfalls – it was another indication, I believe, that he was left not far from one.”

He asked Hindley to undergo hypnosis to help unlock her memories of the day Keith was taken, but she never did. Two days before Bennett was meant to meet Hindley again with police, he got a message. One of the officers had a family crisis and the meeting was cancelled. A few days later Hindley had a cerebral aneurysm, and she took six months to recover. She said she could not cope with seeing Bennett again. “Every time I seemed to be getting closer, something would happen,” he says.

Ian Brady and Myra Hindley
Ian Brady died in 2017 and Myra Hindley in 2002. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Bennett is part of a new campaign to gain access to two briefcases that belonged to Brady and that may hold clues to Keith’s whereabouts. In May 2017, in the hours before Brady’s death, he asked for the two locked cases that were in his room at Ashworth hospital in Merseyside to be put in secure storage. The day after his death, a district judge at Manchester magistrates court refused to grant police a search warrant to open the cases on the grounds that there was no prospect of an investigation leading to a prosecution.

Bennett says requests made by and the police and himself to Robin Makin, Brady’s solicitor and executor of his will, have been turned down. In a statement, Makin said police had been through Brady’s possessions at Ashworth, including the two locked cases, and found nothing that would identify where Keith Bennett’s body was buried.

Martin Bottomley, the head of Greater Manchester police’s cold case review unit, confirmed that police had seen the contents of the suitcases five years before Brady’s death. “It is likely more documents have accumulated over the years, but no further examination of the briefcases, or any of Brady’s papers, has been allowed,” he said.

Bennett asks Makin to “show some compassion”, and still lives in hope. “Over the years you think you’ve been down every avenue and you exhaust it, but then something else comes up,” he says.

“I feel like they [Brady and Hindley] have still got him, even though they are both dead. They took him away from us and we have got to get him back.”


Nazia Parveen North of England correspondent

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