By Peter Gould
BBC News website
The Moors murderer Ian Brady has claimed that at the time of his arrest, he and Myra Hindley had ended their series of child murders.
Myra Hindley and Ian Brady were convicted in 1966
He says they were planning to turn to armed robbery when a man they tried to recruit went to the police.
Brady was convicted in 1966 of killing three children and later admitted to killing two more.
He remains on a hunger strike in a secure hospital and says he wishes to end his life.
In a letter, a copy of which has been obtained by the BBC, Brady also reveals how a single policeman foiled a plan to destroy the crucial evidence that uncovered their killings.
The killer's revelations come as a television company is planning a dramatised account of the crimes he committed with Myra Hindley in the 1960s.
Brady, who is objecting to the production by Granada TV, is now challenging a number of long-held beliefs about the case.
It has always been assumed that the abduction of children from the streets of Manchester would have continued if he and Hindley had not been caught.
By the time of the couple's arrest, four children had been murdered and buried on Saddleworth Moor.
The bodies of John Kilbride, Lesley Ann Downey and Pauline Reade were recovered; Keith Bennett is still missing. The body of Edward Evans was discovered at the couple's house.
Psychiatrists say that serial killers usually continue killing until they are caught.
But Brady claims he decided to end the child murders months before his arrest.
"Contrary to popular perception, the so-called Moors Murders were merely an existential exercise of just over a year, which was concluded in December 1964," he writes.
"The exercise originated from frustration with 'reliables' who were continually being arrested for embroilments in trivial crimes and causing delay in our mercenary objectives.
"So the final ten months of our freedom in 1965 were entirely preoccupied with return to mercenary priorities, re-organising logistics and eradicating liabilities."
Brady says that as part of their preparations, he and Hindley acquired a new car, "straight from the showroom window".
He also sold his motorbike to buy a more powerful 650cc machine, like the ones then used by the police. And he claims he obtained two 9mm automatic pistols and a "pump gun" to add to an existing cache of revolvers and rifles.
He says silencers were being obtained for the guns, and a telescopic sight was being attached to a .303 rifle - a weapon not recovered by the police.
"All these facts testify that the Moors Murders ended in December 1964, and that throughout 1965 we were hurrying to make up for wasted time, cutting reliance on others down to the bone, with Myra doubling as driver and sole reliable armed backup.
"All we required was a 'mule' to pick up and carry during robberies."
The 67-year-old killer, now a patient at a secure hospital on Merseyside, also challenges the accepted account of how the police found two suitcases containing crucial evidence about the murders.
At his trial, the jury was told how detectives had found a left-luggage ticket hidden inside a prayer book in the house he shared with Hindley.
But Brady says the police had already found the suitcases at a Manchester railway station, following a tip-off.
Brady says the prayer book was placed by a back window of the house "in case a possible emergency necessitated speedy access to it through the window".
He goes on: "As I deliberately left Myra free for five days after my arrest, she would have obtained the tickets as pre-arranged, had not the police, from pure blind routine, left one policeman guarding the empty house."
The implication is that Hindley, acting on her lover's instructions, would have recovered the suitcases and destroyed the crucial evidence before it fell into the hands of the police.
That evidence was damning. Inside the cases were photographs and a tape recording of one of their victims, ten-year-old Lesley Ann Downey.
Despite his efforts to shield his accomplice, Brady and Hindley were both convicted. She remained in prison until her death in 2002.
Brady has been on hunger strike since 1999, and is fed through a tube, against his wishes.
He has lost a legal battle to be able to starve himself to death, after what he describes as "forty years of futility".
"How do I feel about my present existence?" he asks.
"Obviously and logically, I wish to end it. I have, in effect, been kept in suspended animation since 1965."