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Wednesday, December 17, 1997 Published at 23:27 GMT


Victim's mother determined Hindley should not be released

Ann West says Hindley should end her life behind bars.

Ann West, the mother of Lesley Ann Downey who was a victim of the moors murderers, is determined that Myra Hindley should end her life behind bars. The BBC Home Affairs Correspondent, Peter Gould, went to see her.

Her ten-year-old daughter Lesley Ann Downey was abducted by Hindley and her accomplice Ian Brady on Boxing Day, 1964. Mrs West, who is dying from cancer and has only weeks to live, went to court in a wheelchair last week to hear the legal arguments.

'Families deprived of children'

In an interview with BBC News, Mrs West says she is confident that the strength of public opinion will ensure that Myra Hindley is never released.

Ann West tells Peter Gould that Hindley is a "manipulator" (Dur: 2'-05")
She says the families of the moors victims have been deprived of generations of children. Dismissing claims that Hindley is a reformed woman, she says she will haunt her from beyond the grave.

[ image: Digging for bodies in the 60s]
Digging for bodies in the 60s
During Hindley's application for judicial review, her lawyers argued that she should be treated differently from Ian Brady, because he had threatened to kill her if she did not take part in the crimes.

Mrs West believes this claim is undermined by a tape recording made by Brady and used in evidence against him and Hindley at their trial in 1966.

"I felt like jumping up in court and saying I had to listen to my daughter screaming for her life, and look at paedophile pictures they'd taken of her, and it was Hindley on the tape, not Brady."

Grave desecrated

Mrs West also rejects arguments by Hindley that after more than 30 years in prison, she has repaid her debt to society. She believes the High Court must ensure the 55-year-old killer remains in prison until she dies.

[ image: A recent, softer photograph of Hindley]
A recent, softer photograph of Hindley
"All right, she might not come out and kill again, but why should she come out? Can my Lesley come and see me?"

Mrs West says her efforts to ensure that Myra Hindley is never freed have won overwhelming public support ... but have also resulted in vandals attacking the grave of her daughter Lesley.

Ann West: "I will haunt that woman"
"Three times it has been desecrated, and each time it's had on it Free Myra Hindley - your daughter's bones are going to be dug up and put back on the moors where they belong unless you keep your mouth shut about Hindley."

But Mrs West has pressed on with her campaign and says she cannot see how the High Court could do anything that might one day result in the release of Myra Hindley.

[ image: Teams of police combed the moors]
Teams of police combed the moors
"The public outcry would be enormous. She doesn't know how many people hate her ... she wouldn't last two minutes.

"I've been a thorn in her back for 30-odd years, but she's got more thorns than she'll ever know. She might have a handful of people on her side, like the do-gooders, her friends in high places, that's it ... not normal people."

'I've got to see the end of it'

Despite her illness - her doctors say she has only a few weeks to live - Mrs West was determined to be present at the hearing in the High Court.

She was invited by the Lord Chief Justice to sit at the front of the court in her wheelchair.

"I've fought for 30-odd years and now I'm terminally ill with cancer, and I thought I've got to see the end of it, and I think this will be the end of it, I really and truly do. When it comes out, she's there for life.

"I never went to a doctor, only when I was having my children. My surgeons looked my records up and said it's only doing what you've done that's brought all this on, the strain and the stress."

Thirty years after their crimes, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley are still reviled more than almost any other killers in modern times. For the family of each murdered child the sense of loss is still acute, as Mrs West explains:

"She's done each and every one of us out of generations of children. Lesley could have been married with children by now."

With only a short time left to live, Mrs West says she will rest in peace if the High Court ensures that Hindley remains in prison.

"I'll tell you, I'll haunt that woman. From me passing on, from that minute, if there is such a thing as haunting and ghosts, I'll be on her shoulder morning, noon and night. She'll not get rid of me."

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