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Ian Brady (born Ian Duncan Stewart on January 2, 1938 in Gorbals, Glasgow, Scotland) is a convicted British serial killer.

Brady is known primarily as an infanticide for his role in a series of murders that took place in Greater Manchester between 1963 and 1965. These were dubbed the Moors Murders, as several victims were buried along the Saddleworth Moor near Oldham.


As a young boy, Brady developed a deep fascination with Nazi Germany, and with Nazi pageantry and symbolism. He also developed a keen interest in the writings of the Marquis de Sade and Friedrich Nietzsche, focusing particular attention on Nietzsche's theories of Übermensch and the Will to Power.

He became increasingly enamoured with a philosophy that championed cruelty and torture, and the idea that superior creatures had the right to control (and destroy) weaker ones. (It should be noted that this was not what Nietzsche himself advocated.)

Brady collected books about torture and sadomasochism and other paraphilias relating to domination and servitude.

After being convicted of several minor crimes, he was sentenced to two years in a borstal. While incarcerated, he learned various techniques for becoming more proficient at his craft. Release led to prolonged stretches of unemployment.

Eventually, he took a job at Millwards Merchandising as a stock clerk, where he met Myra Hindley, the other half of the internationally notorious Moors Murderers.

Myra Hindley

The relationship between Brady and Hindley developed in concert with Brady's increasingly rabid identification with Nazi-era atrocities and his growing sadomasochistic sexual appetite. Hindley was Brady's eager student.

Soon after they became a couple, Brady and Hindley began to plan a series of bank robberies, which they never carried out. When Brady became fascinated with the idea of rape and murder for sexual gratification, Hindley actively participated in procuring victims, as well as sexually abusing, torturing and murdering them. Brady and Hindley photographed themselves in sadomasochistic acts, as well as at the burial sites of several of their victims.

The Moors Killings

Brady was responsible for five murders during the 1960s. In 1987 he claimed to police that he had carried out another five killings and even said where he had buried the bodies, but the police were never able to prove whether these claims were true.

The five killings that Brady admitted carrying out were committed with Hindley as his accomplice. These were the infamous Moors Murders, which are still some of the most reviled crimes in Britain some four decades after they happened. In this connection, he killed two teenagers, but his prefered victims were small children aged between 10 and 12, whom he and Hindley abducted. In the case of these small children, they were taken either to the moors, or to Hindley's house, where they were tortured, raped and strangled with string. The most notorious murder was that of 10 year old Lesley Ann Downey, remembered bacause the child was photographed gagged and naked and tape recorded begging for mercy.


The death penalty was abolished just one month after Brady and Hindley were arrested. By the time they went on trial the following April, the punishment for murder was life imprisonment. This meant that a murderer was liable to be detained for the whole of his or her natural life, but could be released on life licence when no longer judged to be a risk.

On 6 May, 1966, Brady was found guilty on three counts of murder and sentenced to three terms of life imprisonment. Hindley was found guilty of murdering Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans and given two life sentences; she also received a concurrent seven-year sentence for harbouring Brady in connection with the murder of John Kilbride.

The key evidence against the couple included the tape recordings and photographs of Downey's torture and the name of John Kilbride in a notebook, as well as a photograph of Hindley standing on top of the shallow grave where Kilbride was buried.

Brady's Imprisonment

Brady spent 19 years in a mainstream prison (at one point befriending serial poisoner and fellow Nazi aficionado Graham Frederick Young) before he was declared insane in 1985 and sent to a mental hospital.

He confessed to two more murders in 1987 and has since made it clear that he never wants to be released from prison. The trial judge had recommended that his life sentence should mean life, and successive Home Secretaries have agreed with that decision. The only person to make a different judgement was Lord Chief Justice Lane, who set a 40-year-minimum term in 1982.

A House of Lords ruling which stripped the Home Secretary of his power to set tariffs on life sentences could lead to Brady being released in 2006, but he still insists he never wants to be freed and has had to be force-fed since going on hunger strike in 1999. In early 2006, various newspapers reported that Brady was hospitalised and doesn't have much longer to live. He is, however, still alive at present, and currently being held at Ashworth Hospital in Liverpool.

Despite his incarceration, Brady (and his murders) still provide headlines for the UK tabloid press. A fellow prisoner Linda Calvey recently told the The Daily Mirror that, before her death in November 2002, Hindley confessed their killing of a young female hitch-hiker.

It has been reported that Brady devised a secret code to stop the police from finding out where the body of Keith Bennett is buried, and that he is furious that a drama documentary based on the killings was shown on ITV1 in 2006. He has bragged to various newspapers that he has stopped four previous films from being made.

In early 2006, it was reported that a woman tried to smuggle 50 paracetamol tablets to Brady at the prison hospital. The amount would have been sufficient for a successful suicide attempt. Hospital employees foiled the attempt using X-ray screening, which revealed the pills in two sweets tubes inside a hollowed out crime novel.(see [[1]]).

Winnie Johnson, the mother of Brady's one undiscovered victim, received a letter from Brady in 2006 claiming that he could take police to within 20 yards of her son's body, but the authorities would not allow it.

Further reading

  • Emlyn Williams, Beyond Belief: A Chronicle of Murder and its Detection, 1968, Random House.
  • Pamela Hansford Johnson, On Iniquity, 1967, Macmillan.

Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.