EXCLUSIVE: ‘Myra was as ruthless as I was’: Ian Brady’s chilling beyond-the-grave confessions reveal for the first time how his peroxide-blonde ‘soul mate’ drew the first blood – and how the pair were ‘surprisingly in tune’ in their sheer enjoyment of kill

  • Brady revealed Hindley was ‘surprisingly in tune with me’ in desire to kill children
  • Moors Murderer described how he and ‘soulmate’ meticulously planned murders
  • The explosive confessions are Brady’s first and only account of infamous killings
  • Brady died on Monday, taking to grave secret of where he buried Keith Bennett

Dr Alan Keightley was head of religious studies at a West Midlands sixth-form college when he began writing to Ian Brady in 1992 at the suggestion of the mother of his youngest victim, Lesley Ann Downey. For years, he visited Brady in prison every month, spoke to him on the phone every day and received hundreds of letters from him.

Dr Keightley built up a detailed archive of material he has now turned into a biography of Brady that provides a disturbing and unique insight into the man himself — and the nature of evil.

My first meeting with Moors murderer Ian Brady was chilling. He was tall and sinister, wearing a black polo neck sweater, blue jeans and dark glasses.

As he towered over me, I saw myself reflected in the lenses — and realised that, in their dying moments, this must have been the last view his young victims had of him.

I had come to see him in Ashworth Hospital, a high security psychiatric unit, one Sunday afternoon in 1994, 28 years after his conviction — along with his girlfriend Myra Hindley — for multiple murder.

The recording captured the sickening sound of Brady and Hindley torturing the little girl

The recording captured the sickening sound of Brady and Hindley torturing the little girl

Myra Hindley ‘was as ruthless as I was’, Ian Brady claims in chilling beyond-the-grave confessions revealed today

By then I had been corresponding with him for two years. During that first meeting he demonstrated how easy it was to kill someone. Strangulation was best, he told me: simple, silent and quick. He claimed he could do this with one hand.

I asked the question that continues to puzzle and appal us all, even now, more than half a century after his evil deeds, he is dead.

‘Why children?’ I demanded to know. He answered immediately, not batting an eyelid: ‘Existential exercises.’

Brady was an evil, sadistic psychopath who considered himself an existentialist, in that he believed it was entirely up to him as an individual to live in whatever manner he chose. He was also a nihilist who thought that life was meaningless, the universe had no purpose, and religion was a delusion.

Five young people died in horrible circumstances in and around Manchester between July 1963 and October 1965, their parents were put through unspeakable anguish, and all, it seemed, because of this man’s perverted philosophical view of the world.

Brady, and his co-accused Myra Hindley (pictured together) murdered five children in the 1960s and the bodies of four of his victims have been found. The couple became infatuated with Nazis and sadism after getting together at a chemical firm

Brady, and his co-accused Myra Hindley (pictured together) murdered five children in the 1960s and the bodies of four of his victims have been found. The couple became infatuated with Nazis and sadism after getting together at a chemical firm

I was to explore his reasons further as I got to know Brady in visits over the following years. I quickly realised that he was intellectually gifted and very widely read. He was clearly one of the most articulate of killers — and all the more fascinating and dreadful for it.

At Ashworth, he spent his daily life alone in his room, refusing to talk to staff or inmates, whom he considered beneath him.

When I came, he let fly, and I was blasted non-stop as he expounded his nihilistic view that this is a world without meaning or morality — a world in which men like him can do as they please.

Our conversations roamed over religion, philosophy and literature. We talked in depth about Dostoevsky, Sartre and Shakespeare. Through all this, I came to follow his perverted thinking and his strange logic.

As he spoke and his grey eyes penetrated the fog from the French cigarettes he constantly smoked, there was something incandescently evil about him. But I never for one moment thought I was speaking with a madman. He didn’t feel he was insane either.

Brady (pictured with Myra Hindley and her younger sister Maureen) was a twisted individual who became obsessed with cruelty and torture

Brady (pictured with Myra Hindley and her younger sister Maureen) was a twisted individual who became obsessed with cruelty and torture

‘The morons out there are the ones who are mad,’ he told me contemptuously. ‘People who live conventional, dull, boring lives.’

If there was a single word that summed him up, it would be contempt — ‘my contempt for everyone who breathed,’ as he once put it: contempt for religion, authority, respectability, convention. Contempt even for himself. One of the first stories he told me about himself was of going to the cinema as a youth in the Fifties and pushing his way out during the final credits of the film to avoid having to stand for the national anthem (which was the tradition back then).

‘A man in the aisle stood in my way as the anthem began. In a rage, I lifted him from the ground and threw him between the seats amongst the litter. I stared at him, waiting for any justifiable excuse to murder him.’ On this occasion, Brady passed on the opportunity to kill. Soon, though, he would not need an excuse. He would kill simply because he wanted to and he could.

I was first in touch with Ian Brady in 1992, when I was head of religious studies at a sixth-form college in the West Midlands. The mother of Lesley Ann Downey — one of the victims — came to speak to my students about her inability to forgive.

It was she who suggested that I contact her daughter’s murderer. I wrote to him, and eventually the man whose name was enough to induce total revulsion in people, agreed to meet me.

I came to be a regular visitor of his; almost the only one apart from the late Lord Longford.

Sketch  of Brady in 2013 when he appealed against being held in a secure unit. He said he should be returned to a normal prison and had killed for  the 'existential experience'

Sketch of Brady in 2013 when he appealed against being held in a secure unit. He said he should be returned to a normal prison and had killed for the ‘existential experience’

I made monthly, five-hour visits and we talked on the phone every day. He also wrote fortnightly letters to me — often marked ‘DESTROY’ in red block capitals, a demand I only sometimes complied with. He opened up to me in a way he never would to policemen, psychologists or journalists. Unlike Hindley, who sought high-profile supporters and was constantly campaigning to be released on parole, he accepted that he would never again be a free man. He would live and die in prison.

He bequeathed all of his property to me. His possessions held in store at Ashworth were delivered to me long ago, including his vast number of books, each one with his scribbled comments in the margins.

Now that he is dead, I will receive his cell property. I probably got to know him better than anyone else still alive, yet I have to recognise that what he told me may not be the absolute truth. But it is the truth as he saw it. This is therefore the first and only account of the Moors story told in detail by Brady himself.

It has never been revealed or published before.

Brady and Hindley murdered at least two of their victims at this 'house of horrors' in Hyde, west of Manchester

Brady and Hindley murdered at least two of their victims at this ‘house of horrors’ in Hyde, west of Manchester

As a young man, Ian Brady was a delinquent and a petty thief with a very high opinion of himself. He drank to excess, went round in a gang, got into fights and dreamed of becoming a bank robber. But as a criminal, he was small beer.

Indeed, the offence for which, at the age of 17, he was arrested and jailed — the theft of some lead — he probably did not commit but confessed to in ignorance and error.

The injustice, he told me, proved to be a watershed in his life.

‘I vowed vengeance. If they wanted me to be a criminal, then I said to myself that I’d be a proper one.’

But what took his criminal activities into a new dimension — becoming one of Britain’s most notorious murderers of all time and a symbol of out-and-out evil — was when the peroxide blonde Myra Hindley came into his life. Hindley, who died in prison in 2002, aged 60, always maintained that she had been manipulated by Brady into murder.

This infuriated Brady and he never wavered in his insistence to me that she had been not only a willing partner in all their dreadful deeds but one who, as we shall see, surprised even him with her sheer ruthlessness and enjoyment of killing.

Their meeting, he told me, was like ‘the arc of electricity between two electrodes — shades of Frankenstein.

‘When we were together, there was a third entity, an intoxicating, unified force, something intangible that possessed a power beyond both of us.’

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He had, he explained as he told me about her, made good use of his two years in Borstal, a juvenile prison camp, immersing himself in the works of authors such as Camus and Dostoevsky who would later have such an impact on his thinking, sowing the seeds of what would come to be his obsessive belief that life had no meaning.

But he also read up on accountancy — which meant that, after his release, he was able to talk his way into a job as a stock controller at Millward’s in Gorton, Manchester, the Lancashire distributor for the massive Imperial Chemical Industries, ICI.

It was a way of appearing respectable while he and two mates were planning and carrying out robberies. The thieving was so successful that he was able to buy himself some sharp clothes and a motorbike.

Six months after he started there, Hindley arrived to work in the same office. He was indifferent to her at first. He dictated letters, she typed them.

But Hindley fancied Brady from the moment she first saw him. He was tall, good-looking and shy. There was — as she wrote in a piece for the Guardian in 1995 — ‘an immediate and fatal attraction, although I had no inkling then of just how fatal it would turn out to be’.

Ian Brady (pictured wearing the glasses) visited the moors in 1986 and was asked to tell police where he had buried the body of murder victim Keith Bennett

Ian Brady (pictured wearing the glasses) visited the moors in 1986 and was asked to tell police where he had buried the body of murder victim Keith Bennett

It took her a whole year to get him interested. When they finally went on their first date, it was to the cinema, though the film they saw was not Judgment At Nuremberg, about the trial of the Nazis, as has often been claimed, but, surprisingly, King Of Kings, the epic about the life of Christ.

He walked her home and at the end of the street they kissed. His hands were everywhere. She was wearing a girdle. He told her he didn’t like them because they accumulated stale sweat. She never wore one again.

The following evening was Christmas Eve and Ian took Myra to see another film, El Cid. He then started to walk her home — but they stopped on the way to go into a church where Midnight Mass was being celebrated, and sat in empty pews at the back.

Brady was curious but soon reassured himself of his contempt for organised religion and — as if to prove it — urinated against the church wall as they left.

They walked to her home in Bannock Street, and he described to me what happened next: ‘Myra asked me in. There was just her grandmother asleep upstairs.

‘I was accepted on the spot by a ginger-haired brown dog, Lassie, who gave us an excited welcome as we stepped into the living room through the front door.

‘Myra and I sat by the fire chatting and drinking our way through two bottles of wine. With the heady wine and the flush of a possible romance, we were sexually inventive through the small hours. ‘It was nearly eight in the morning when I put my clothes on, feeling invigorated in every sense — as I invariably did after a night of acrobatic fornication.’

For her part, 19-year-old Myra had just lost her virginity. She wrote in her diary: ‘I hope Ian and I love each other all our lives and get married and are happy ever after.’

Brady had different feelings. There was no chance of him ‘walking blindly into the death trap of marriage and respectability. I had other things on my mind’. His bank robbery schemes, for example.

But they began spending more and more time together. When I asked him if he and Hindley had been in love, half expecting him to dismiss the idea as romantic tosh, what he said was: ‘Of course we were in love.’


  • Pauline Reade, 16, was the couple’s first victim. She was on her way to a local dance when Hindley persuaded her to get in her car. They drove Pauline to Saddleworth Moor where she was raped Pauline, beaten and stabbed.
  • John Kilbride, 12, was snatched from Ashton market on Saturday November 23, 1963. He was strangled and buried in a shallow grave. He was the second of Brady and Hindley’s five victims.
  • Keith Bennett, 12, disappeared on the way to his grandmother’s house. Hindley had lured him into her car and driven him to the Moors where he was murdered. The method of killing has never been made clear. The pair buried his body which has never been found.
  • Lesley Ann Downey, 10, disappeared on Boxing Day. She had been snatched from the fair and taken back to Hindley’s house. She was brutally assaulted with the ordeal captured on tape.
  • Edward Evans, 17, was the sick duo’s final victim. He had just been to see Manchester United play when Brady lured in Edward. Brady repeatedly bludgeoned Evans with an axe

He went on: ‘It wasn’t just another romance. Something beyond that was growing. I hadn’t planned it that way, but I was happy to let things evolve.’

Increasingly, he found Hindley was someone he could trust and speak frankly with about his innermost thoughts. The two of them kept their affair secret in the office, even though they were very soon virtually living together. They would spend their evenings talking in a pub, the Wagon And Horses. They avoided the crowded bar and were usually alone in the snug at the back.

I asked Brady if this was where he began ‘brainwashing’ Hindley.

‘No,’ he replied. ‘Our relationship wasn’t master and slave. It was more like teacher and student. I aired my views for open discussion, nothing more. They were on the table to be rejected or accepted.

‘But Myra was surprisingly in tune with me from the very beginning. I was never conscious of having to exert myself to coerce her into accepting my belief in relativist morality. Bit by bit we were moving towards an almost telepathic relationship. She was as ruthless as I was.’

Any doubts he might have had about her were dispelled when Hindley, who had been raised a Roman Catholic, told him she had given up religion. She woke up one morning ‘and realised it was all tosh. We are all just grains on the sand — of no significance whatsoever.’

Brady was delighted. They were two of a kind. ‘When you know it has no meaning, life’s much more interesting,’ he told her.

When she began to bemoan the boring life that probably lay ahead for a working-class girl like her, he put her right.

‘Life’s a game,’ he told her. ‘We are limited only by our imagination.’ It was better to live for a few moments as a tiger than be a sheep for ever.

Brady was becoming increasingly preoccupied with her and what they might do together.

‘Black mushrooms were growing and flourishing in my mind in Myra’s company, which filled most of the waking hours.’ They were drawing ever closer, bound together by their nihilism. ‘Dark preoccupations were luring me to take the path of pure existentialism, in which the will to dare all, and suffer the consequences, was becoming all-important rather than the acquisition of cash from my evening criminal exploits.

‘Was I mad already? If so, it was catching. Myra was a soulmate. We accepted gladly the indifference of the universe. Our motto was to live fast and die young.’

They even began to develop a private means of communication, a secret code of words and body gestures. A ‘Groucho’ — raising the eyebrows quickly twice (like Groucho Marx) — meant ‘follow the direction of my eyes’.

Volunteers carry body of victim of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley
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