UK child serial killer Ian Brady claims he faked mental illness

'Moors murderer' Ian Brady, now 75, attempts to convince tribunal he's sane so he can leave psychiatric hospital and go back to prison

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 June, 2013, 5:33am


One of Britain's most notorious serial killers, "Moors murderer" Ian Brady, has spoken publicly at length for the first time since 1966, claiming he faked mental illness in order to be moved to a hospital.

The 75-year-old, wearing a dark suit, white shirt and tie and speaking in a soft Scottish accent, said on Tuesday that he had used "method acting" to become classified as insane and secure a move out of prison.

He was speaking to convince a tribunal that he is sane so he can go back to prison and leave Ashworth psychiatric hospital in northwest England, which he called "a penal warehouse".

When asked by a lawyer from the hospital if he was mentally ill when he was transferred to Ashworth, he replied: "Have you heard of Stanislavski?

"If you knew who Stanislavski is … have you heard of method acting? Does that make it clear to you? I am not psychotic," he added.

Brady did admit to talking to himself but said: "Who doesn't talk to themselves?"

He said he disliked "feeble" people and revealed he had spent his life sentence so far memorising chunks of Shakespeare and Plato, studying German and psychology, and even working as a prison barber.

Brady and his lover Myra Hindley killed and tortured five children between 1962 and 1965 and buried their bodies on the bleak Saddleworth Moor in the Peak District National Park in northwest England.

He said the media and public remained obsessed by the theatricality of his crimes, and compared himself to another notorious killer. "Why are we still talking about Jack the Ripper over a century on? Because of the dramatic background: the fog, the cobbled streets … it fascinates them. With the Moors it's the same: Wuthering Heights, Hound of the Baskervilles, that sort of thing."

Murdering five children was not the act of someone with an "abnormal personality disorder", he said, but an act of "recreational killing" which he said he did for the "existential experience".

Hindley died in custody in hospital in 2002 aged 60, while Brady was held in various prisons before being transferred to the high-security Ashworth Hospital in 1985.

The mental health tribunal, held at the hospital near Liverpool, is considering his request to be transferred to a normal prison. The panel is expected to release its final decision today.

Brady's lawyers argue that he has a severe narcissistic personality disorder but is not mentally ill. But officials at Ashworth say he remains a paranoid schizophrenic who needs around-the-clock care.

In his first public remarks since his trial, Brady complained about the management and staff at Ashworth.

"Some of these psychiatrists, I would throw a net over them. I would not allow them on the street. They are unbelievable," he said.

Brady was asked by his lawyer, Nathalie Lieven, how he explained supposed hallucinations and talking to himself.

"Well, first of all - prison. I was in solitary confinement for a time," he told the hearing, which was relayed to the press and public on television screens.

"I would memorise whole pages of Shakespeare and Plato and other people and recite them all to myself while walking up and down exercising in the cell.

"And who doesn't talk to themselves? This is a question people very rarely ask."

His conversations with staff and other patients at Ashworth, meanwhile, covered "everything", he said.

Brady has reportedly been on a hunger strike since 1999 and is being force-fed, but a nurse told the tribunal that he made himself toast every morning.

Additional reporting by The Guardian