Any day now, in an anonymous crematorium, a door will slide open and Ian Brady will at last disappear into the fires of hell
Any day now, in an anonymous crematorium, a door will slide open and Ian Brady will at last disappear into the fires of hell.
Then, after his body has been incinerated at 1,000c, his ashes will be disposed of in a manner that causes minimal distress to the few surviving relatives of his victims. It will be done in a discreet location to avoid it becoming a ghoulish shrine for his sick admirers.
This is not the grotesquely melodramatic send-off the Moors Murderer had tried to orchestrate.
In May, as he lay dying of lung disease, in Ashworth high security hospital, on Merseyside, 79-year-old Brady summoned his solicitor, Robin Makin, to his bedside and, during a private, two-hour conversation, left instructions for a thunderous funeral ceremony.
It would see him depart the world he mocked and despised to the haunting tones of Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, a macabre composition in which the troubled 19th-century French composer imagined his own funeral as a satanic orgy haunted by demons and witches.
It has long been rumoured that Brady also asked for his ashes to be scattered on Saddleworth Moor, where he and Myra Hindley buried at least three of the five children they abducted, defiled and murdered, so that he and the innocents they preyed upon would be forever enjoined.
Though Mr Makin insists there has never been any ‘likelihood’ of this happening, in the Manchester area where the murders were committed, the suggestion has understandably sparked outrage and revulsion. And inevitably it has caused yet more distress to the child victims’ families.
Indeed, as the brothers of Lesley Ann Downey and John Kilbride (whose bodies were the first to be found, 52 years ago this month, in shallow graves dug in the sodden peat) told me, having had their grief exacerbated by Brady’s sadistic mind-games for half a century, it is a scenario just too hideous to contemplate.
‘My little sister didn’t get to choose how she was buried, so I can’t see why that evil swine should have any say in what happens to him,’ said ten-year-old Lesley Ann’s brother, Terry West, as he tended her grave, with its heart-shaped headstone. ‘If I had my way, I would just flush his ashes down the toilet.’
It has long been rumoured that Brady also asked for his ashes to be scattered on Saddleworth Moor, where he and Myra Hindley buried at least three of the five children they abducted, defiled and murdered
As Lesley Ann’s family point out, she found rest only after being interred three times — first on the moors, where a police officer spotted her tiny hand poking up through the ground; then in a grave which had to be exhumed and relocated because it was repeatedly desecrated.
Twelve-year-old John Kilbride’s brother, Terry, shares Mr West’s sentiments. Only the method of disposal varies. He’d prefer to ‘drive along the motorway and chuck the ashes out of the car window’.
Were that not permissible, then he’d have them scattered within the grounds of Gartree, the Leicestershire prison where Brady was held before being declared insane and transferred to hospital. This is how murderers were interred in bygone days, though then they were buried — after being hanged, of course.
Despite the longstanding stories about his wishes about the Moor, it is believed Brady in fact asked Mr Makin to ensure he was cremated in his home city of Glasgow, and have his cinders cast into the Clyde. North of the border, this prospect has provoked a similarly fierce reaction.
According to one report, when Mr Makin approached Glasgow council, he was rebuffed in choice language. When the solicitor allegedly threatened to sue the authority, he was invited to go ahead with the threat, but did not.
Disposing of Brady in a ‘decent and lawful’ manner, as he must be, no matter what evils he committed, has proved difficult
Attempts to have the cremation in Lytham St Anne’s, a few miles along the coast from Blackpool, where Brady and Hindley enjoyed seaside day-trips, are also said to have been rejected.
The local authority, Fylde Council, says it has not been approached, but were a request to be made, its crematoria would not be made available. This unseemly impasse is reminiscent of that which occurred 15 years ago, after the chain-smoking Hindley died from respiratory failure, aged 60, in a Suffolk hospital, having been taken there from prison.
About 20 undertakers refused to handle her remains, forcing the prison service to hire funeral directors 200 miles away who agreed to help on condition that their name was never made public.
Yet it only took a few days to dispose of Hindley, whose ashes were scattered before a small gathering of family members and friends, in Stalybridge Country Park, a beauty spot she frequented as a teenager, a few miles from the infamous moors.
Disposing of Brady in a ‘decent and lawful’ manner, as he must be, no matter what evils he committed, has proved considerably more difficult.
His body has been lying in a mortuary — the location of which the Press is not permitted to disclose — for five months. It is only now, following a High Court ruling last week which settled protracted discussions involving his solicitor, three local authorities, Merseyside Police (concerned about ‘the potential for public disorder’) and the mortuary, that things can proceed.
While the remains of Myra Hindley, pictured right, were disposed of in days it has been considerably more challenging to rid the world of Ian Brady’s corpse
For the murdered children’s families, the mercy is that Brady will not be dispatched to Berlioz’s disturbing fanfare. Nor will there be any ceremonial scattering, be it on the moors he used as his grisly burial ground, or in any of his other haunts.
However, since the parties fighting over his dead body were represented in court by top barristers, and we can expect Mr Makin’s fees to have been funded via legal aid (as always when he has represented Brady), we can be sure it has cost taxpayers many thousands of pounds.
Of course, it has also kept Brady — whose hunger for headline-grabbing notoriety was an essential part of his character — firmly centre-stage, long after he ought to have been consigned to the darkest corners of history.
As Terry West surmised this week, such was his twisted psyche that this might have been his ulterior motive for demanding a funeral service guaranteed to cause a furore. Whatever the truth, one can imagine Brady beyond the grave, rubbing his scrawny hands together and sneering as he surveys the chaos and distress he has sown.
However, High Court judge Sir Geoffrey Vos blamed Mr Makin for creating the five-month stalemate. As Brady’s executor, the Liverpool-based solicitor assumed responsibility for disposing of his remains, but would not assuage the groundswell of emotion by revealing how he proposed to do so, arguing that his secrecy was justified ‘in the light of public interest’.
He thus declined to tell the coroner who conducted the inquest. This concerns mortuary officials in Tameside and Oldham (whose areas cover the moorland where the bodies were buried) and Sefton (the location of Ashworth Hospital). Though Mr Makin finally offered, through his barrister, to disclose certain details of Brady’s funeral plans to Sir Geoffrey during the court hearing, the judge said this would not suffice.
Ian Brady is pictured back at Saddleworth Moor with police looking for the bodies of victims
Removing the solicitor’s responsibility for the cremation and allocating it to Tameside, the judge said the council, and its co-claimant, Oldham, had been right to seek to ensure Brady’s remains were disposed of ‘without causing justified public indignation or unrest’. In a strongly-worded ruling, he also criticised Mr Makin. While not doubting his trustworthiness, he said Brady’s solicitor’s secrecy was unwarranted.
‘Had he discussed the matter openly with the claimants . . . and given clear undertakings that he was not intending to scatter the deceased’s ashes in their areas, these proceedings might have been avoided,’ he said.
‘Even now, he has refused to say what he intends to do with the ashes if he is allowed custody of them . . . I do not think that Mr Makin can be entrusted with the ashes for disposal.’ To do so, he added, would be ‘dangerous and inappropriate.’
Commenting on Brady’s choice of music, the High Court judge added: ‘I have no difficulty in understanding how legitimate offence would be caused to the families of the deceased’s victims once it became known that this movement had been played at his cremation. I decline to permit it. I propose to direct that there be no music and no ceremony.’
He made an order preventing the media from reporting the cremation, or any details relating to it, until a week afterwards.
The extraordinary case has not only cast Mr Makin in an unfavourable light. It has inevitably led some to question why he was determined to see Brady’s wishes delivered to the letter.
So what do we know of this robust lawyer?
His father, Rex, who died this year aged 91, was one of the North-West’s most celebrated and colourful solicitors. He arranged the first contract between The Beatles and their manager, Brian Epstein, and is credited with dreaming up the phrase ‘Beatlemania’. He gave legal advice to a host of Scouse stars including John Lennon, Ken Dodd, Carla Lane and Anne Robinson, and worked on the Hillsborough and Heysel stadium disasters.
Now 54, Makin Jr could never hope to emulate such an extraordinary career. However, he doesn’t shy away from difficult cases, often representing fellow solicitors involved in litigation and he also has high-profile clients.
For example, he represents Ralph Bulger, whose two-year-old son James was lured away from a shopping precinct by two schoolboys — perhaps the most murder shocking case of the Nineties — and when the opportunity to act for Brady arose, 25 years ago, he grasped the poisoned chalice.
He had no obligation to do so, and other solicitors might not have engaged with such a vile man, who was patently remorseless and beyond redemption.
Shortly after Brady’s death, however, Mr Makin gave an interview to the BBC’s Nicky Campbell, in which he endeavoured to explain why he took the task.
‘I’m doing my job,’ he maintained. ‘As somebody once said: “Somebody has to do it.” I’ve tried to act for him appropriately and professionally, and deal with really quite interesting and complicated matters in a unique situation, and so there were a lot of challenges.’
Doubtless so, yet as the exchange progressed, Campbell pointed out that he was serving a psychopath so devoid of pity that he had written to Winnie Johnson, the ailing mother of the unfound Moors Murder victim Keith Bennett, feigning to offer her hope that he might yet help her recover his remains.
‘No, I think that is the interpretation of the matter,’ Mr Makin replied, suggesting Brady had never possessed the crucial information, and that the child murder victim’s mother had misinterpreted media reports raising her ‘expectations and hopes’. Asked whether Brady had any ‘redeeming features’, and whether was any ‘warmth’ between them, the lawyer said: ‘Well, I think we had a pretty good rapport. I saw him quite a lot over the last nine months and I had a rapport and understanding with him.’
Campbell pressed him. ‘When you hear people saying, “This was a disgusting, evil human being”, how do you react?’
‘Well, I think the situation is actually quite complicated,’ said Mr Makin. ‘I think it would be interesting to look and understand quite how the mental illness developed and how he committed these really most horrendous crimes.
‘The development of the human brain and why some develop in certain ways, cultural influences and so forth is why people can end up doing such things. There were lots of opinions as to whether his condition was treatable or untreatable, but undoubtedly he was an unusual person with mental health issues.’
‘Unusual’? That’s hardly the word Terry Kilbride — the father of Brady’s little victim John — would choose.
In justifying his decision to act in accordance with Brady’s wishes, Mr Makin — who did not respond to a request for comment — might argue that he had no choice in the matter because he was obliged to do so.
Yet John Ainley, who represents the Bennett family, says his fellow solicitor should have exercised his discretion on such a delicate issue so as not to ‘offend people’s sensitivities’.
Though they will not be told the full details of Brady’s instructions until probate is granted, and his will becomes a public document, the Moors Murders families have learned enough in the past few days to be certain that his funeral would have caused them offence.
The judge’s ruling came as monumental relief. Mr Kilbride, 63, who suffers a debilitating respiratory illness, is liaising with Tameside Council on the relatives’ behalf, and met officials to voice their collective wishes.
Afterwards, he told me he felt ‘a lot better about things’, and was confident it would be conducted with due restraint. He had also been reassured by the proposed methods of disposal of the ashes.
During the coming days, we shall learn precisely how Ian Brady’s remains were dispatched. Many will no doubt argue that the sewer is too good for him.
But perhaps we should be thankful for the fact that he won’t be serenaded by a satanic anthem, and be scattered over the moors where he took those pitiable children.
- Additional reporting by Tim Stewart.