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EDITIONS
Friday, 15 November, 2002, 12:10 GMT
Myra Hindley: A hate figure
Brady and Hindley: Crimes shocked the nation
Moors murderer Myra Hindley remains in jail for life, even though her supporters say she was coerced into her crimes and has since repented.

Her crimes, committed with her lover, Ian Brady, shocked the nation and remain the benchmark by which other acts of evil are measured.

Hindley has been demonised as "the most evil woman in Britain" by the tabloid press.

Hindley fondling a dog
A 60s snapshot helped police locate the graves
Yet her campaigners say she is a reformed woman, who was intimidated into her crimes by Brady.

Myra Hindley was born in Crumpsall, a Manchester suburb, in 1942, the first child of a building labourer, Bob Hindley, and his wife, Hettie. Years later she spoke of the tyrannical violence of her father.

She left school at 15, learned how to type and within three years went to work at a small chemical firm, Millwards, where she met Brady, who was working there as a stock clerk.

Infatuation

He had a minor criminal record with stretches in borstals and at Strangeways Prison in Manchester.

While inside he began his fixation with Hitler and the writings of the Marquis de Sade.

Leslie Anne Downey
Leslie Ann Downey's murder and torture was recorded on tape
Up until then, Hindley had been, by all accounts, a perfectly normal girl, with strong religious feelings. She loved children and animals, and was much in demand as a babysitter.

She was said to be highly romantic, and became infatuated with Brady before he even spoke to her. She wrote in her diary: "I hope he loves me, and will marry me some day."

When they became lovers, Hindley was apparently prepared to do anything he asked.

In 1966, Hindley and Brady were both convicted of the murders of Lesley Ann Downey, aged 10, and Edward Evans, aged 17.


Without me, these crime could probably not have been committed

Myra Hindley, in 1994
Brady was also convicted of killing 12-year-old John Kilbride, and Hindley was found guilty of being an accessory.

At her trial, Hindley said she was a bystander in the crimes and evidence was produced that she had been subjected to threats, violence and intimidation by Brady.

Just two days after the trial, the judge who sentenced her said: "Though I believe Brady is wicked beyond belief without hope of redemption, I cannot feel that the same is necessarily true of Hindley once she is removed from his influence."

Brady and Hindley exchanged love letters in their first years in custody, although he later said she was a manipulative liar who had been as committed to the murders as he.

Keith Bennett
The body of Keith Bennett has never been found
In the mid 1980s Hindley began to talk for the first time about what she had done with her counsellor, the Rev Peter Timms.

This led to a confession, in 1987, to involvement in the killings of Pauline Reade, 16, whose remains were subsequently found on the moors, and Keith Bennett, 12.

Health problems

Her supporters had hoped that her public admission of guilt could help her chances of gaining parole.

But in 1998, Appeal Court judges upheld the decision by the then Home Secretary Jack Straw that Hindley should stay in prison until she died.

Hindley reading book
Myra Hindley gained an Open University degree in humanities
They said Hindley's 1987 confession showed a "much greater level of involvement" with the murders than she had previously admitted.

In 2000, Hindley took her case to the House of Lords, but it failed again.

In a move welcomed by the relatives of her victims, five law lords unanimously ruled that Mr Straw's decision was both lawful and justified.

In 1994 Hindley made a public statement, saying she had been "wicked and evil" and had behaved "monstrously".

She said: "Without me, these crimes could probably not have been committed."

However, she said: "I ask people to judge me as I am now and not as I was then."

In 1999, Hindley's prison therapist Joe Chapman said Hindley had admitted her own guilt and become genuinely remorseful, even if in public she still tended to blame Brady.

"I think Myra was evil then but is not evil now," he said.

Hindley, who has gained an Open University degree in humanities while in prison, has a history of health problems.

She suffers from angina and osteoporosis, and was reportedly taken to hospital last month with a suspected heart attack.

She was also treated for a brain condition in 2000.

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