Many years ago, in what almost seems like another life, I encountered Ian Brady. In 1965 he, together with Myra Hindley were convicted of murdering 5 children. She died 15 years ago, Brady died yesterday.
At the time of the murders the pair were dubbed the Moors Murderers. A name that is still used, as the bodies of the children were buried on the Yorkshire Moors. I was just 10 at the time, but remember the newspaper coverage.
Little did I ever imagine that I would meet Myra Hindley or encounter Brady. My meeting with Myra, is still bound by client confidentiality. I met her in connection with a client who lived on the same prison wing. My client is still alive and I can say no more of my meeting.
My encounter with Brady was different. The client I was seeing is now dead and whilst I still will not name them, I can tell a little of their story.
My client was incarcerated in Ashworth Special Hospital in Merseyside. Brady was also there and happened to be on the same unit. My role was to help a Mental Health Tribunal decide if my client should be released on licence. It was an unusual case, for my client was transsexual. They had been kept in the Special Hospital system purely because of their diagnosis.
Jacky, as I will call her, lived in her room as a women. She did not mix with the other inmates whist she dressed that way. But had to dress in male/androgynous clothes for communal meal times.
Back then, I was able bodied, and had also visited clients in Broadmoor, another Special Hospital. So I knew what to expect and was aware I would be escorted, except when I was with my client. I knew from Jacky and the newspapers that Brady was on the same ward. I certainly hoped I would not have to interact with him in any way. Fortunately I did not need to, as Jacky voluntarily spent all of her free time in her own room.
On my first visit, I went though all the usual security and was escorted across to the ward. I met and spoke with staff and was then taken to see Jacky. She was delighted to met me after writing and phoning me for over a year. To get to Jacky’s room I was escorted through a locked sitting area. I was hyper-vigilant as always in those environments. So I soon noticed a very thin man with penetrating eyes staring at me as I walked past. Only when I got through the gate to the rooms did my nurse colleague tell me the man who stared so hard at me was Brady.
My time with Jacky was positive. I was impressed by how she had coped with recent cancer surgery. Even though she was left with an appalling scar. She kindly made me tea. Part way through our session I realised I needed the loo. I asked Jacky, where the nearest loo was. She told me that I would need to ring for one of the staff. The only women’s toilets were the other side of the locked sitting area. So, with no other option, I used the bell and asked to be escorted back to the women’s room. Each time I walked across the sitting area, I could feel I was being stared at. The other inmates seemed doped on medication and ignored me. But I could almost feel the penetrating eyes of this killer, staring right through me. It was very unnerving.
I had met other violent killers and murderers. Sometimes I felt uncomfortable being with them. This seemed very different. Why? Was it because he had killed children? It was obvious that he like the other inmates were heavily medicated. I was never really in any danger. I had been on prison wings before. But yet I dreaded that walk. I still can’t say why. All I know what that on future visits to Cardinal Ward I used the women’s room before I started work. I also didn’t drink any more tea with Jacky. It wasn’t till after her release that I told her the reason.
Sadly Jacky died a few years after her release. But she had achieved the surgery she so wanted and found some happiness. As for Brady, he will not be mourned. Some are angry that he took secrets with him. All I know is that he seemed to be the personification of evil.
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