Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder on the Moors: The Ian Brady and Myra Hindley Story

Never To Be Released

Brady's hold over Myra continued for the first few years of their imprisonment; they constantly wrote to each other and even requested permission to marry. The rift that developed between them was gradual, stemming mainly from their differing responses to their incarceration. Brady quickly accepted his sentence, and thereby his guilt, and soon settled into prison life. Whereas Hindley continued to assert her innocence, continuing her claim that Brady and Smith were responsible for the murders. Immediately after her sentencing, she began the appeal process, enlisting the assistance of Lord Longford. She was denied the right of appeal when the court of appeal declared its satisfaction that no miscarriage of justice had occurred. In 1970, Hindley broke off all contact with Brady, his hold on her being completely broken by the realisation that she would never see him again.

Seven years later, more than ten years after her imprisonment Hindley began a campaign to win her freedom, one that still continues today. Over the next two years, she compiled a 20,000-word document in which she portrayed herself as the innocent victim of Brady's manipulative personality. She continued to uphold her original story that Brady was the guilty party, with Smith as his accomplice.

The document was submitted to the Home Office in order to gain permission to make application for parole. The then Home Secretary, Merlyn Rees established a committee comprised of Home Office and parole board officials who determined that it would be another three years before Hindley's application for parole could be heard.

Prior to the completion of this document, in 1978, Brady made his first public statement. He declared that he did not intend to apply for parole as he

"...accepted the weight of the crimes both Myra and I were convicted of justifies permanent imprisonment, regardless of expressed personal remorse and verifiable change."

He was soon to virtually disappear from public view as his mental state began to deteriorate. He suffered from visual and auditory hallucinations and believed that the Home Office was trying to kill him.

An overhead photo of John Kilbride's memorial gravesite
An overhead photo of John
Kilbride's memorial

Hindley's application for parole was delayed a further three years in 1982 by the next Home Secretary, William Whitelaw. When her application was finally heard in 1985, twenty years since her imprisonment began, it was rejected. Home Secretary Leon Brittan announced that Hindley's case would not be heard again for at least five years. His personal opinion, expressed only in private, was that Hindley should serve at least another fifteen years.

The European Court of Human Rights' rejection of Hindley's case as "inadmissible" in 1986 was probably the final confirmation to Hindley that her claim of non-involvement in the murders was totally implausible. At the end of 1986, a letter written by Keith Bennett's mother, begging Hindley to reveal what had happened to her son, provided Hindley with the inspiration for a new set of tactics. Early in 1987, Hindley was again making front-page news with the public release of her full confession. She now admitted both the knowledge of, and involvement in all five murders, including those of Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett, although she continued to insist that she hadn't actually committed murder. Brady's confession followed shortly after, but he declined to offer any public statements of remorse.

The confessions confirmed police suspicions that the remains of Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett had been buried somewhere on the moors. Neither Hindley or Brady was able to pinpoint the exact locations, but Pauline's body was finally located on 1 July 1987, identified by her pink party dress.

While Hindley and Brady's accounts of the events leading up to Pauline's murder correspond, their descriptions of Myra's role in her death do not. According to Hindley's account, Myra had tricked Pauline into coming with her to Saddleworth Moor by offering her some records if she would help Myra to find a lost glove. Once on the moors, Brady arrived on his motorbike and went with Pauline to look for the glove while Myra waited at the car. While he was gone, Brady had raped Pauline and cut her throat before returning to the car to get Myra to help him bury the body. Her role, according to Brady, was much more active, in which she physically and sexually assaulted the girl with him.

Keith Bennett's body was never found but Hindley's confession has given his family some indication of how he died. Hindley had lured him into the car with a request for assistance in loading some boxes. Once at Saddleworth Moor, Brady had taken Keith down the gully to a stream where he raped and then strangled him, burying him somewhere nearby.

In her description of Lesley Ann Downey's murder, Hindley again places herself away from the scene at the moment of death, claiming that she had been in the bathroom when Brady raped, then strangled her. Brady claims that in this instance Hindley had in fact performed the strangulation with her bare hands. This version most closely corresponds with the audio tape recording of the events in which both Brady and Hindley's voices can be clearly heard.

At the time of her confession, Hindley's solicitor expressed his belief that her chances of parole were greatly enhanced by her display of remorse, and he expected that she might succeed in gaining her release in another ten years. With this in mind, despite her 1987 declaration that she would not continue her fight for freedom, Hindley again applied for parole in 1986. Bowing to the weight of public opinion and the fierce campaigning of the victims' families, Home Secretary Michael Howard declared that Hindley would never be released, along with twenty-three other prisoners, including Ian Brady, Peter Sutcliffe and Dennis Nilsen.

In 1997, Hindley was allowed to challenge the former Home Secretary Howard's decision in a judicial review by the High Court. Both Lord Longford and Lord Astor, former editor of the Observer, supported her attempt, claiming that her continued incarceration was a denial of British justice. He stated that in no other case had a prisoner's sentence been increased from the original term, in this case thirty years. In January 1988, Hindley's council, Mr. Edward Fitzgerald QC, reiterated Astor and Longford's sentiments in the High Court. According to Fitzgerald, Hindley's was the only case in which a "secondary party" to murder was given natural life. He also stated that Home Secretary Jack Straw, while publicly maintaining that Hindley's case was open to review, had privately said "I will not be the Home Secretary who sets her free." Fitzgerald believed that such statements made it impossible for any future Home Secretary to do so.

Hindley's challenge was unsuccessful.

We're Following
Slender Man stabbing, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Gilberto Valle 'Cannibal Cop'