Moors murderer seeks transfer from hospital to prison

Monday 17 June 2013 19.28
Ian Brady (left) has been on hunger strike since 1999
Ian Brady (left) has been on hunger strike since 1999

Moors murderer Ian Brady wants to go to prison so he is "free to end his life", a mental health tribunal in Britain heard today.

Brady, 75, has brought the tribunal because he wants to be judged sane so he can be transferred to prison from maximum security Ashworth Hospital on Merseyside.

The murderer, who has been on hunger strike since 1999 and is force-fed through a tube, claims he has faked psychotic episodes in the past, the tribunal heard.

The hearing, held in a room inside Ashworth and relayed by video to Manchester Civil Justice Centre where journalists and victims' relatives watched on TV screens, gave the first public sighting of the child killer in decades.

He and partner Myra Hindley were responsible for the murders of five children in the 1960s.

Brady could be seen occasionally on screen during the evidence.

He spoke briefly at the start of the hearing to ask about the procedure of the tribunal, but his words were mostly inaudible.

Expert witness Dr Adrian Grounds, a criminologist, told the hearing that Brady claimed he was feigning mental illness, having learned the symptoms while working as a cleaner inside Wormwood Scrubs jail and adopting "acting techniques".

He said Brady was of the view that "he could not be force-fed" if he is moved to prison.

According to Dr Grounds, Brady's behaviour was sometimes insulting, angry and hostile and he had been observed talking to himself on a number of occasions, giving rise to discussions as to whether these were symptoms of psychosis.

Dr Grounds said at times in the past there had been "very occasional" but "striking" episodes where Brady appeared to be hallucinating when he was talking to other people while alone in his room.

On 22 February this year, Brady was observed talking to himself without interruption for four minutes, he told the tribunal.

But Dr Grounds said the records showed that while in the 1980s Brady displayed mental illness with psychotic symptoms, with "thought blocking", disordered thoughts, hallucinations and claims that his thoughts were being interfered with, that was not the picture now.

His conclusion was that evidence of psychosis was "equivocal" and, as Brady had received no treatment for such a condition, it showed they had not reached the threshold for compulsory treatment.

In his opinion, Brady has a very severe personality disorder, which Dr Grounds described as "paranoid narcissistic", which is "characterised by superiority, self-centredness, contempt, hostility".

Dr Grounds said: "He's spoken on a number of occasions about wanting to go to prison so he would be able to die.

"He has no hope of release, he's realistic about that, and although he would like a better quality of life in future he knows that won't happen and he thinks in prison he would be more free to end his life in his own way than is possible in hospital."

Eleanor Grey QC, representing Ashworth Hospital, which opposes any bid to transfer Brady to prison, cross-examined Dr Grounds.

Ms Grey said there had been "concerns" since 1967, raised by other medical experts, that Brady had been suffering from psychotic symptoms, possibly since his teens.

Dr Grounds agreed with Ms Grey that there was evidence that Brady concealed his condition, which had worsened in the years before he was transferred to hospital from jail.

Before that, Brady had claimed his cell was bugged, "rays" were being beamed into his cell and he was being given injections and taken out of prison under cover of darkness, which led the hospital to conclude, since 1987/88, that Brady was a paranoid schizophrenic.

Dr Grounds said: "That's correct at that time. We are 15 years on now and one has to take account of the evidence. The clinical picture has changed."

He said Brady had shown clear evidence of illness and the course of schizophrenia usually leads to a more general deterioration of personality and mental function - but that had not happened to Brady.

"I don't accept that he has schizophrenia," Dr Grounds added.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr Cameron Boyd, the medical member of the panel, conducted four interviews with Brady in recent months.

"I asked if he wanted to die. He refused to answer that question," Dr Boyd said. "I asked about previous behaviour that might be seen as abnormal, regarding to his offences.

"He said it was an existential exercise, personal philosophy and interpretation and in some way his behaviour was petty compared to politicians and soldiers in relation to wars."

Brady and Hindley lured children and teenagers to their deaths, with victims sexually tortured before being buried on Saddleworth Moor above Manchester.

Pauline Reade, 16, disappeared on her way to a disco on 12 July 1963 and John Kilbride, 12, was snatched in November the same year.

Keith Bennett was taken on 16 June 1964 after he left home to visit his grandmother; Lesley Ann Downey, ten, was lured away from a funfair on 26 December 1964 and Edward Evans, 17, was killed in October 1965.

Brady was given a life sentence at Chester Assizes in 1966 for the murders of John, Lesley Ann and Edward.

Hindley was convicted of killing Lesley Ann and Edward and shielding Brady after John's murder, and jailed for life.

She died in jail in November 2002, aged 60.

The pair admitted killing Keith and Pauline in 1987 and were taken back to Saddleworth Moor that year to help police find the remains of the missing victims, but only Pauline's body was found.

Keith's mother Winnie Johnson made repeated calls for Brady to reveal the location of his grave.

Mrs Johnson, 78, died on 18 August last year without being able to fulfil her last wish of giving her son a proper burial.

Judge Robert Atherton told the hearing that no questions would be heard about the whereabouts of Keith's body because the tribunal has no authority to investigate the matter.

The tribunal, scheduled to last around a week, was postponed last June when Brady fell ill after suffering a seizure.