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Myra Hindley (July 23, 1942–November 15, 2002), known as the Moors Murderess, was born in Crumpsall in the English city of Manchester. She left school in 1957 to work as a typist for a chemical firm called Millward's. It was at Millward's that she met Ian Brady, a Scottish-born man four years her senior with a history of violence and a string of burglary convictions. They began a relationship in late 1961, and Brady encouraged her to help him with bank robberies. He even asked Hindley to join a shooting club and possess a licensed gun, as he could not obtain a gun licence because he had a criminal record.
By the summer of 1963, Brady had lost interest in bank robberies (which were never carried out) and was now intent on becoming a murderer for his own sexual gratification.
The Moors Murders
On July 12, 1963, the couple claimed their first victim. Sixteen-year-old Pauline Reade was enticed into Hindley's minivan while Brady followed behind on his motorcycle. They drove up to Saddleworth Moor where Hindley asked Pauline to help her look for a lost glove. They were busy "searching the moors" when Brady pounced upon Pauline and raped her. He then smashed her skull in with a shovel and slashed her throat so violently that she was almost decapitated. Brady then buried Pauline's body in a grave, where it remained for over 20 years.
On November 23, the second murder took place. Twelve-year-old John Kilbride was enticed into Hindley's car from a market place in Ashton-under-Lyne and driven to Saddleworth Moor. Brady was waiting there and ordered Hindley to wait for him in a nearby village in their hired Ford Anglia. While Hindley waited in her car, Brady attempted to stab John with a knife, but the weapon was too blunt. Brady lost his temper and strangled John to death with a string before burying his body in a shallow grave.
On June 16, 1964, Brady and Hindley struck for the third time. This time their victim was another 12-year-old boy. Keith Bennett was lured from a street in Chorlton and driven to Saddleworth Moor. Hindley stood and watched from the top of an embankment while Brady sexually assaulted Keith in a ravine before strangling him to death with a belt and burying his body. It has yet to be discovered.
Brady and Hindley claimed their fourth victim on December 26, Boxing Day. Ten-year-old Lesley Ann Downey was enticed from a fairground in Ancoats and asked to help Brady and Hindley carry boxes back to their home, 16 Wardle Brook Avenue, Hattersley, being driven there in Hindley's pick-up truck. When they reached the house, Brady pounced upon Lesley in an upstairs bedroom and raped and tortured her before strangling her to death with a cord. Hindley recorded the attack on an audio tape while Brady took nine obscene photographs of the child. The following morning, Brady and Hindley drove Lesley's body to Saddleworth Moor where it was buried in a shallow grave.
On October 6, 1965, the couple claimed their fifth and final victim, 17-year-old Edward Evans. They enticed him from Manchester Central Railway Station to their house in Hattersley, where Hindley's 18-year-old brother-in-law David Smith was visiting. Brady then crept upon Evans in the kitchen and smashed his head in with an axe. He ordered Smith to help him carry the corpse to an upstairs bedroom and tie it up ready for disposal, but Smith then ran home and contacted police. Smith explained later that, while apparently giving assistance to clearing up, his sole concern was to escape the house alive.
Brady was arrested within hours and admitted in a police statement that he had murdered Edward Evans. Hindley was only arrested when a suitcase full of incriminating evidence was recovered from the left luggage lockers at Manchester Central Station. By the end of the month, the bodies of Lesley Ann Downey and John Kilbride were discovered, and Brady and Hindley were both charged on three counts of murder. The police had overwhelming evidence for the Lesley Ann Downey murder charge, as the suitcase had contained pornographic photographs and the tape recording of the child being tortured. John Kilbride's name had been written in one of Brady's notebooks (on a page entitled murder plan), and a photograph of Hindley with her dog was later traced to John Kilbride's grave.
On April 21, 1966, the trial began at Chester Assizes. prosecuting counsel was Sir Elwyn Jones. It ended on May 6. Brady was convicted on all three murder charges and sentenced to three concurrent terms of life imprisonment. The trial judge said that Brady was wicked beyond belief and beyond hope of redemption, hinting that he should never be released.
Hindley was convicted of murdering Edward Evans and Lesley Ann Downey, and received two life sentences. She also received a concurrent seven-year sentence for being an accessory in the John Kilbride murder. The trial judge recommended that Hindley should serve a very long time as he believed she had acted under Brady's influence.
Hindley was sent to Holloway prison and quickly won many friends, claiming she had reformed. In 1972, Hindley made an escape attempt with the help of Pat Carnes, an officer said to have fallen in love with her. The attempt was unsuccessful, and Hindley was transferred to Durham and then Cookham Wood prison, where she remained until the day she died.
In 1982, Lord Chief Justice Lane said that Brady (by now in a psychiatric hospital) should serve a minimum of 40 years behind bars. This would ensure that he stayed in custody until at least 2005 and the age of 67. Brady has since made it clear on many occasions that he never wants to be released. Hindley, meanwhile, received a 25-year minimum sentence which would have allowed her to be released as early as 1990, by which time she would have been 48.
In November 1986, Brady and Hindley confessed to the murders of Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett. They were soon on the moors helping police look for the bodies, and the following July, Pauline Reade's body was discovered. Keith Bennett's body has still not been found.
Brady and Hindley were never charged in connection with these murders, but Home Secretary Leon Britton soon increased Hindley's minimum term to 30 years, which would keep her behind bars until at least 1995 and the age of 53.
By now, Hindley claimed to be a reformed character who had acted under the influence of the sadistic Brady. She had turned to religion and had taken a humanities degree with the Open University. A small group of supporters, led by the former Labour MP Lord Longford, began campaigning for Hindley's release. But the majority of the British public was opposed to Hindley ever being released, and the victims' families vowed to kill her if she was ever released. In July 1990, Home Secretary David Waddington imposed a lifetime tariff, without parole, on Hindley.
In 1994, a Law Lords' ruling stated that all life sentence prisoners should be informed of the minimum period they must spend in prison before being considered for parole. This announcement was welcomed by victims' families and was popular with the British public, but Hindley challenged the ruling. In December 1997, November 1998 and March 2000, Myra Hindley made appeals to the House of Lords to be released from prison, claiming she was no longer a danger to the public and had been acting under Brady's influence. When the third of these appeals was rejected, Hindley appealed to the European Court of Human Rights.
Reports by prison officials and the parole board commented on Hindley's progress during prison, claiming she was repentant and no longer a danger to the public. Hindley's hopes of release were given a major boost in May 2002 when the House of Lords ruled that the Home Secretary could no longer overrule the parole board's recommendations that a prisoner should be released. It seemed likely that the Home Secretary would also lose his power to set minimum sentences, and an estimated 270 prisoners including Hindley whose minimum terms had been increased by politicians would be released earlier than expected. Hindley was also one of about 70 life-sentence prisoners who had served longer than their original minimum sentence.
On November 15, 2002, Hindley died after a heart attack at the age of 60 in West Suffolk Hospital. She had spent 37 years in custody and during that time gained an open university degree and returned to her Catholic religion with great faith. Her solicitors told the press that Hindley was truly sorry for what she did. Hindley had always portrayed herself as a remorseful sinner, but was acutely aware that few people were willing to forgive her. Those who campaigned for her release said that she should not have died behind bars. Heading this group of people was former prison governor Peter Timms, who admitted that there was no question that Hindley's crimes were terrible, but said that the real issue was that she was treated quite differently than any other of the estimated 4,000 British life sentence prisoners.
Myra Hindley could in fact have been released during 2003 under a Law Lords' ruling which came within two weeks of her death, but that would have outraged the public and embarrassed the government.
- Myra Hindley: Inside the Mind of a Murderess, Jean Ritchie, Paladin 1991, paperback. ISBN 0586215638
- The Moors Murders: The Trial of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady, Jonathan Goodman, David & Charles 1986, ISBN 0715390643
- Beyond Belief: the Moors Murderers, Emlyn Williams, Pan 1992, ISBN 0330020889
- Brady and Hindley-Fred Harrison,1986,Grafton
- The Monsters Of The Moors John Deane Potter-Ballantine Books-1967
- "Behind the Painted Smile" Gary Cartwright 2004, ISBN 1412026474.
- "You're the most perfect woman – this side of Myra Hindley" — David E. Williams, "Pumpernickel Crust"
- "It's Myra Hindley on the cover, your very own sweet anti-mother" — Crass, "Mother Earth (Stations of the Crass, 1979)"
- "You better watch out Brady, I'm gonna 'ave ya lady/Just 'cause I wan' 'er, just 'cause I can get her /and you can't/So pogo on that you twat" — Brass Eye TV series spoof.
- "Myra Hindley and Ian Brady, those two have got nothing on my old lady" — Goldie Lookin' Chain, "On The Radio".
- "God save Myra Hindley/ God save Ian Brady/Even though he's horrible and she ain't what you call a lady" — The Sex Pistols, "No One is Innocent", (1979).
- "Hindley wakes and Hindley says/Hindley wakes, Hindley wakes, Hindley wakes, and says: 'Oh, wherever he has gone, I have gone'" — The Smiths, "Suffer Little Children"
- "Kill Yeltsin, who's saying? Zhirinovsky, Le Pen / Hindley and Brady, Ireland, Allit, Sutcliffe / Dahmer, Nilsen, Yoshinori Ueda / Blanche and Pickles, Amin, Milosevic / Give them respect they deserve" — Manic Street Preachers, "Archives Of Pain"
- Throbbing Gristle's "Very Friendly" where frontperson Genesis P-Orridge speak-sings an account of the last murder and subsequent apprehension of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.