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Monday, 23 April, 2001, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Hindley 'close to death' report denied
Myra Hindley
Hindley has been warned about her chain smoking
Reports that Moors murderer Myra Hindley is suffering from advanced lung cancer and has just weeks to live have been denied by officials.

Hindley, 58, was warned by doctors in 1999 that unless she gave up smoking she was unlikely to live another three years, says The Mirror newspaper.

She has been dogged by ill health during her time at Highpoint Jail in Suffolk, but the Prison Service says there is "no substance" to a Mirror report that she is close to death.

Hindley has been in prison for 35 years. She was convicted in May 1966 of helping her lover Ian Brady murder Lesley Ann Downey, 10, and Edward Evans, 17. Brady was also convicted of murdering John Kilbride, 12.

Even in the sordid history of crimes against children the murders were uniquely evil

Lord Steyn
The pair tape-recorded themselves torturing their victims, whose bodies were buried on Saddleworth Moor, overlooking Manchester.

Hindley has made a number of legal bids for freedom, but has been told by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, she will never be released from Highpoint.

Gangland killer Reggie Kray was freed on compassionate grounds last year by Mr Straw because he was dying of cancer. He died within weeks of his release.

But The Mirror says it understands there is little chance Hindley will be released, partly because of fears about her safety on the outside.

History of illness

She has suffered a number of health problems over the years, including angina, osteoporosis and high blood pressure.

In January last year she was treated at Addenbrooke's hospital in Cambridge for a potentially fatal brain condition.

The following March, the convicted killer failed in her House of Lords bid to be released from prison.

Five law lords unanimously ruled that her life sentence "must mean life" in view of her "exceptionally wicked and uniquely evil" crimes.

Ian Brady
Brady is on hunger strike
In a test case affecting other notorious killers, they ruled the home secretary could impose "whole-life" tariffs for the most heinous offences - provided they were kept under review.

In his ruling Lord Steyn said: "Even in the sordid history of crimes against children the murders committed by Hindley, jointly with Ian Brady, were uniquely evil."

Brady hunger strike

In 1987 the pair confessed to the killings of Pauline Reade, whose body was later found buried on Saddleworth Moor, and Keith Bennett, whose body has never been found despite extensive searches of the area.

Brady, who was also convicted for the murder of John Kilbride, has ironically failed in several legal attempts to be allowed to starve himself to death.

The killer, who is now 63, is currently on hunger strike at Ashworth Hospital on Merseyside.

He has been refusing food for more than 500 days, and has been force-fed liquid food through a plastic tube.

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See also:

10 Mar 00 | UK
Brady refused right to die
29 Dec 99 | UK
Myra Hindley: A hate figure
28 Feb 00 | UK
The Moors murders
30 Mar 00 | UK
Hindley freedom bid fails
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