I am not an aggressive person, and it is hard to imagine what would drive me to an act of real violence. I have often said, though, that if I were to kill or die for anyone, it would, almost certainly, be for my children.
I think that holds true for many, probably for most, of us... I sort of hope it does.
Ian Brady is in the news again this week. He wants to return to prison, after serving almost the last thirty years of a full-life sentence in a secure psychiatric hospital. He claims no longer to be suffering from the mental health disorders that ensured his move to Ashworth Hospital in 1985. He prefers to serve out the remainder of his sentence, until his death, in a conventional prison in Scotland. Apparently, this is in order that he can choose not to eat, and, hence, hasten his demise. He can be force-fed while in a psychiatric hospital, but not if he is part of the general prison population.
Ian Brady and Myra Hindley committed their heinous crimes fifty years ago. The murders they committed and their victims will never be forgotten. They don’t just live on in the memories of those who read the papers and followed the case at the time, but in particular, in the community that suffered at their hands. They live on, too, in the minds of all of us who came after, in the children raised since.
Ian Brady IS the bogie man.
I do not believe in capital punishment. I abhor the notion that the state might kill in cold blood on my behalf. It is an abomination.
As to his making an appeal of this nature, at this stage in his life, at this juncture in his incarceration? It is his human right to do so, and human rights must be inclusive, but there is a part of me that wonders if this person should have a public voice. I wonder whether this is news, and whether it is in the public interest to debate this subject. We all have opinions, of course, and rightly so, but giving this man a platform seems wrong.
Do we simply cause more pain by reporting this criminal’s words? Or by showing his likeness in sketches made by the artist in the courtroom? Do we somehow humanise the inhuman by comparing psychiatric reports? Or by having caseworkers advocate on his behalf? Do we simply cause more pain by showing all of this in the press?
Of course we do.
Does that make it wrong?
However, I don’t honestly believe that this man does garner any sympathy for himself or his cause. I don’t honestly believe that our opinion has changed with time. I don’t believe we have softened, and I don’t believe that we ever will. Those who followed the case in the news media at the time are reminded of how terrible his crimes were, and those who learned about them subsequently are no less horrified by them. Younger people who are reading or hearing about the Moors murders for the first time, because of this new appeal will, I’m sure, be as appalled by Brady’s crimes as the rest of us have been for the past half-century.
There has been nothing but hatred and vilification for Brady and Hindley in the past, and there is nothing but hatred and vilification for him now. Those feelings don’t go away. That will never change.
Ian Brady claims to want to die, and I doubt whether any of us feels that his life is very much worth preserving, despite the fact that many of us would not choose for the state to end it prematurely.
If he is moved to a prison and he does go on hunger strike, he will not live for long. He is a seventy-five year old man and he has been incarcerated for the better part of fifty years, so what makes any one think he’s going to live for very much longer, in any case?
There’s the irony of all of this.
Thirty years ago, Brady convinced the authorities that he was sufficiently mentally ill to require longterm psychiatric treatment in a secure mental health facility, and his life was preserved and very probably extended because of it.
Prisoners don’t live for very long, particularly those incarcerated for decades. They live sedentary existences with high levels of stress, and their general lifestyles do not promote long and healthy lives. The death through natural causes of a man in prison occurs, on average, at the age of 56. For women that average age drops to 47.
Myra Hindley, who was Ian Brady’s partner in crime, and who was incarcerated in a conventional prison, died at the age of sixty from pneumonia, a complication of heart disease. The average age at which a woman dies in the UK is 82.
This could and probably should have been a moot point, by now, but this man has played the system, and he is still playing the system, and it’s just one more reason to despise him.
I have chosen a picture of Keith Bennett for this post. His body has still not been recovered from its burial place on the Moors.