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Friday, 21 December, 2001, 19:49 GMT
Brady offers to look for victim's body
Searching the moors
Searching the moors for children's bodies in 1965

The Moors murderer Ian Brady wants to return to the scene of his crimes to try to find the body of one of his victims.

Brady, a patient at the high security Ashworth Hospital on Merseyside, has made the offer to the family of Keith Bennett, who he murdered and buried on Saddleworth Moor, near Manchester.

The boy, who was twelve when he disappeared in 1964, is the only one of the children abducted by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley whose body has never been found.


Speed is essential...this is my final effort

Ian Brady

The killer, who is now 63, has made the offer in a letter to Keith's brother Alan, which has been seen by BBC News Online.

He tells Mr Bennett: "Speed is essential in the circumstances, not talk. This is my final effort."

Remains

Brady is now in the third year of a hunger strike, and is fed through a plastic tube.

Keith Bennett
Keith Bennett's body has never been found
He has twice failed to persuade the High Court that he should be allowed to starve himself to death.

Both Brady and Hindley were taken back to the moors, separately, in the 1980s, when Greater Manchester Police began a new search for bodies.

They discovered the remains of Pauline Reade, another of Brady's victims, but failed to find any trace of Keith Bennett's grave.

The boy's family have spent 15 years searching the moors, trying to find his body. His mother, Winnie Johnson, says she wants to find her son so she can give him a proper burial.

Maps

Earlier this year, Myra Hindley provided maps to the family, through an intermediary, so a team of forensic archaeologists could begin a new search.

Their efforts were shown last month in a BBC television documentary.

So far nothing has been found, and bad weather means the search will probably not be resumed until the Spring.

Pauline Reade
Pauline Reade's grave was discovered on moors
Brady's offer to go back to the moors came after Mr Bennett wrote to him, appealing for his help. Brady initially refused, but he has apparently changed his mind.

The killer describes his response to the family's appeal as "altruistic", but says he is only prepared to return to the moors under certain conditions.

He says the operation should be supervised by West Yorkshire Police, and he wants to go to the moors in their custody, with no staff from Ashworth Hospital present.

He is critical of previous police searches, even though officers spent weeks digging on the moors.

The programme showed how the peat has moved during the years since the initial search in 1965, adding to the difficulty in finding the boy's body.

Conditions

If Brady does help, it will encourage the Bennett family in their belief that Keith's body can still be found, even after so many years.

But I understand they are concerned that the conditions he has imposed may make his return to the moors difficult, so his offer is being treated with caution.

Ian Brady & Myra Hindley
Brady and Hindley: partners in crime
In his letter, Brady says his decision was prompted by the direct appeal from Alan Bennett, and has nothing to do with the hospital.

"No credit to Ashworth re this present offer of mine, which only your letter induced," he says.

"My return to Saddleworth must be in police custody, as before, but with no Ashworth staff at all."

Some of the relatives of Brady's victims were angered last month when a book he has written on serial killing, called The Gates of Janus, was published in Britain.

"My book and this three-year hunger strike testify to my lack of ambition other than death," he writes.

"I have never applied for parole, and never will."

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: "We remain committed to examining any new information that might come to light and would dearly love to bring the suffering of Keith's family to an end."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Peter Gould
"The body of one victim was recovered"
See also:

13 Nov 01 | England
Hindley maps aid hunt for body
10 Mar 00 | UK
Ian Brady: A fight to die
28 Feb 00 | UK
Brady's death wish
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