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Moors Murderers

Between 1963 and 1965, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were responsible for the abduction, sexual abuse, and murder of two children and a 17-year-old youth.

The couple were known as ”the Moors Murderers” because they buried most of their victims on Saddleworth Moor in the Pennines, England.

In a case that horrified the British public, Brady and Hindley documented their activities, taking photographs and recording the torment of their victims.

They were arrested after Hindley’s terrified brother-in-law, David Smith, witnessed the killing of seventeen-year-old Edward Evans with an axe on 6 October 1965 and went to the police.

Police searched Brady’s Manchester home and found Evans’ body in a blanket.

On 6 May 1966 Brady, aged 28, was sentenced to three concurrent terms of life imprisonment for the murders of Edward Evans (17),  Lesley Ann Downey (10), and John Kilbride (12). Hindley received two concurrent life sentences for the murders of Evans and Lesley Ann. The death penalty had been abolished while the pair were in remand.

During the trial, the all-male jury heard harrowing tape recordings of Lesley Ann’s ordeal and viewed nude pictures taken of the child by the couple before her murder. These had been found in suitcases traced through a left-luggage ticket found in Myra Hindley’s Communion prayer book.

The judge at their trial described the ‘Moors Murderers’ as “two sadistic killers of the utmost depravity”.

In 1987, Brady and Hindley separately confessed to the murder of two other children. Pauline Reade, Hindley’s 16-year-old neighbour, became their first victim after Brady declared that he wanted to “commit the perfect murder”.

Her remains were found following over 100 days of searching, which included the murderers themselves being taken to the moors to assist.

Keith Bennett, 12, vanished in June 1964 on his way to his grandmother’s house. It is thought his body is also on the moors but has never been found despite continued searches.

Brady spent 19 years in mainstream prisons before he was declared criminally insane in November 1985 and sent to the high-security Ashworth Psychiatric Hospital in Merseyside. Immediately following the trial Hindley lodged an unsuccessful appeal against her conviction.

Brady and Hindley corresponded by letter until 1971, when she ended their relationship.

In 1990, then Home Secretary David Waddington imposed a whole life sentence on Hindley after she confessed to having a greater involvement in the murders than she had previously admitted.

After Brady began a hunger strike in 1999 he was force-fed, fell ill, and was transferred to another hospital for tests. He recovered, and in March 2000 asked for a judicial review of the decision to force-feed him, but was refused permission.

Myra Hindley died as a result of bronchial pneumonia caused by heart disease, at the age of 60, on 15 November 2002. Dozens of undertakers refused to be involved in her cremation.

Less than two weeks after Hindley’s death, on 25 November 2002, the Law Lords agreed that judges, not politicians, should decide how long a criminal spends behind bars, and thus stripped the Home Secretary of the power to set minimum sentences.

Ian Brady died on 16 May 2017, aged 79, at the Ashworth Hospital, the secure psychiatric unit where he had been held since 1985.