COLIN WILSON: The policeman who heard the tape of Brady’s little victim’s screams said he’d gladly kill him with his bare hands
- Moors Murderer Ian Brady has died at the age of 79 after battling lung cancer
- His penpal Colin Wilson used to receive letters from the murderer over a decade
- Mr Wilson has revealed that the killer refused to think about his five child victims
Now that Ian Brady is dead, most people will shrug and say: ‘About time too!’ But if Brady’s spirit is hanging around somewhere in the psychic ether, he will be saying exactly the same thing.
He told me many times that he wished he had been executed in 1966 – as he would have been if capital punishment had not been abolished the year before.
It was on April 19, 1966, that Brady and Myra Hindley went on trial at Chester Assizes, charged with three murders: Lesley Ann Downey, aged ten, John Kilbride, 12, and Edward Evans, a 17-year-old homosexual who was the last of the victims. The police were also fairly certain that the couple had been responsible for at least two more murders: a 16-year-old girl named Pauline Reade, and 12-year-old Keith Bennett.
The evidence against them was overwhelming.
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The Moors Murderer Ian Brady (pictured), who killed five children, has died at a high security psychiatric hospital in Merseyside aged 79
Ian Brady and his lover Myra Hindley were taken back to the Moors to try and find the remaining bodies
Brady (pictured with Myra Hindley and her younger sister Maureen) was jailed for three murders in 1966
On Boxing Day 1964, they had driven to a fair in Hulme Hall Lane, Manchester, and had picked up Lesley Ann Downey, offering her a lift home.
The child had been warned not to speak to strange men, but had no reason to suspect a young couple.
They drove her back to the home of Hindley’s grandmother in Wardle Brook Avenue – they had already taken the precaution of making sure the old lady was away, staying with an uncle at Dukinfield.
There, Lesley was ordered to undress, and Brady and Hindley did the same. A tape recorder was switched on, as well as the radio. Lesley, with a gag in her mouth, was then made to pose naked in a number of semi-pornographic positions. As she cried and tried to scream, Hindley is heard snarling: ‘Shut up or I’ll hit you one.’
After that, the recorder was switched off, and Lesley was raped and strangled.
The next day, the couple buried her on Saddleworth Moor.
Brady (pictured) murdered five children alongside partner Myra Hindley in the North West
Brady (pictured) told his penpal many times that he wished he had been executed in 1966
Brady and his co-accused Myra Hindley (left) murdered five children including Keith Bennett (right) whose body has never been recovered despite several extensive searches
Brady later told me that it was Hindley herself who strangled Lesley with a cord, and that afterwards she enjoyed toying with the cord when other people were present. When the tape was played in court, it destroyed any chance that the jury might find extenuating circumstances. A policeman who had heard it told me it was one of the most harrowing experiences of his life, and that he would gladly have killed them both with his bare hands.
One week after the jury had heard the tape, the Moors Murderers were sentenced to life imprisonment. Hindley died in prison 36 years later in 2002. Now Brady – who said repeatedly he wanted to commit suicide – has followed her to the grave.
As a writer with an interest in criminology, I had always found the case fascinating but incomprehensible.
Before she met Brady at the age of 18, Hindley had been a perfectly normal teenager. She loved animals and children, and had a strong religious streak.
What had driven her to kill? What kind of mesmeric hold did Brady have over her?
I began to understand more when, in November 1991, Brady wrote to me out of the blue. He wanted to know whether I was collaborating on a book about him with a girl who had been to visit him in prison. I answered that I was not.
But we began to correspond, with an average of one or two letters a month, and this went on for more than a decade. In time, he came to trust me, and told me many things.