Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Peter Gould
"Ian Brady says his life is over"
 real 28k

Monday, 28 February, 2000, 06:22 GMT
Brady's death wish

Ian Brady
Brady was jailed in 1966

This exclusive report is based on a 17-page letter to BBC News in which the Moors murderer Ian Brady sets out why he should be allowed to starve himself to death.

By BBC correspondent Peter Gould

The Moors murderer Ian Brady is going to court in an effort to establish his right to die.

Brady, 62, has been on hunger strike at Ashworth Hospital, Merseyside, since 30 September, but says "excessive force" is being used to feed him against his wishes.

Today he is still being fed through a tube passed through his nose and throat and into his stomach.

I have had enough. I want nothing, my objective is to die and release myself from this once and for all
Ian Brady
Last week, lawyers acting for his accomplice Myra Hindley went to the House of Lords in a further attempt to challenge the power of the home secretary to keep her in prison for the rest of her life.

But Brady says he knows he will never be free and now wants to end his life.

It will be the first time Brady has been in court since his conviction in 1966 for the murder of three children, two of whom were buried on Saddleworth Moor, near Manchester. Hindley was convicted of two murders.

'I envy Hindley'

The irony of the separate legal actions by the pair, coming within a week of each other, and the recent reports of Hindley's ill-health, is not lost on Brady.

"Yes, Myra gets the potentially fatal brain condition, whilst I have to fight simply to die. I have had enough. I want nothing, my objective is to die and release myself from this once and for all."

Brady criticises Ashworth's regime
Unusually, the hearing is taking place in private - at the request of Brady's lawyers, who say the move is "in the interests of justice".

But in recent weeks, he has written at length to BBC News, giving his reasons for wanting to end his life. He says the treatment he has received at Ashworth Hospital has led has him to conclude that he would be better off dead.

"My main object is to comprehensively expose this regime to public scrutiny and bring the force of law to bear on it before I succumb to the inevitable ravages of the present hunger and thirst strike to the death," he says.

'Psycopaths' dumping ground'

Brady says that since his transfer from prison to Ashworth, it has become known as "Brady's hospital".

He claims his presence there has been used by staff in an attempt to "demonise" patients, to suggest that their jobs are dangerous, and justify demands for higher wages.

I studied and passed exams in German, psychology, English and English literature. Here I am buried in subnormals, and have studied nothing in 15 years, except for the now confiscated computer
"It is for continued exploitation of my name that I am being kept in Ashworth to extort ever-increasing funds from government and fan public fears," he writes.

Brady alleges that on 30 September last year, staff wearing riot gear dragged him from his former ward to the hospital's personality disorder unit - "a dumping ground for psychopaths" - injuring his wrist in the process. He says it was this that led him to begin a hunger strike.

"My life is now over and the present hunger/thirst strike is to the death. I have not the least interest in being kept artificially alive," he says.

Brady compares his life at Ashworth, where he has been a patient since 1985, with his years of captivity in high-security jails. He says he was better off in the prison system.

"In prison I had intelligent company - train robbers, IRA and Arab terrorists, financiers, counterfeiters, gun-runners, drug lords, East-end gangsters, ex-government ministers. I played John Stonehouse in the chess final at Wormwood Scrubs.

"I studied and passed exams in German, psychology, English and English literature. Here I am buried in subnormals, and have studied nothing in 15 years, except for the now confiscated computer.

"So you see my death strike is rational and pragmatic. I'm only sorry I didn't do it decades ago, and I'm eager to leave this cesspit in a coffin."


Brady insists that he did nothing to justify his move to the personality disorder unit, and writes:

"For 15 years I kept to my room, never left the ward, and had not exercised in the open air for the past 25 years, and had been deliberately isolated from my loved ones and friends for the past two years by Ashworth refusing to allow any person to visit me - including my mother - because they fear exposure of conditions in Ashworth will lead to the immediate closure recommended by two separate public inquiries.

Brady's letter Killer says he is treated like an animal
"The unprovoked attack and transfer crystallised I had been wasting my time and that further effort to achieve any reasonable existence was pointless."

Brady says that since the hospital began to feed him against his wishes, he has been over-fed. He describes the process:

"The tube was forced up my nose and down my throat without required anaesthetic lubricant; the freezing cold liquid that was forced into my empty stomach caused immediate hypothermia, and I now constantly wear a heavy overcoat for warmth."

Brain scan

Brady says he realised his decision to starve himself to death was correct after he collapsed and was taken to a Liverpool hospital for a brain scan.

"I was told that I could not wear a coat or jacket, in the middle of winter, as the handcuffs could not be taken off me for the five minutes it would take to pass through the brain scanner.

"My hands were trussed together with plastic handcuffs, then a second pair of steel handcuffs were added, attaching me to a prison warder. I was then bundled into an unheated van with five prison warders.

In all my years in maximum-security prisons I had never (seen) such an absurd, overmanned show of force
"Police cars and an armed response vehicle then escorted the van the 20-minute journey to Fazakerley Hospital.

"Arriving in the courtyard there I was astonished to see an army of around 50 armed police outside and inside the hospital. I was led down empty ground-floor corridors, with police at every point and doorway, to the brain scan machine.

"In all my years in maximum-security prisons I had never (seen) such an absurd, overmanned show of force, especially for a 62-year-old patient weakened by a four-month hunger strike, and double-handcuffed.

"Again, this superfluous waste of public money was designed to demonise the patients of Ashworth and dramatise Ashworth prison warders.

'My life is finished'

"When the five-minute brain scan was complete I was immediately taken back to the van for Ashworth, still double-handcuffed, and slumped in disgust at the whole zoological business, chin on chest, eyes closed.

"And that is when I was photographed through the uncurtained window.

"Naturally, the Daily Mirror splashed the picture on its front page next day, along with prison warder fabrications that I had made demands that would have to be met before I end the present hunger/thirst strike.

Leslie Ann Downey Leslie Ann Downey: Killed by Brady
"I have made no demands, no requests, other than that the force-feeding be stopped and I be allowed to die as I intend, the right of all UK prisoners."

Brady says that even if he were transferred back to prison, he would continue his hunger strike, and says the suggestion that he has any aim other than death is merely "propaganda".

"My life is finished, just like Ashworth, which I shall leave behind with ease and contempt. Since beginning the death-strike I have made one thing, and only one thing, absolutely clear.

"I have served 35 years of a perpetual life sentence. I am not in the least interested in being kept artificially alive by force-feeding for a further 20 or 30 years merely to provide an overmanned army of penal bureaucrats and prison warders with overpaid employment.

"That is my position and shall remain my position. I look forward to death alone. My decision is rational and pragmatic.

"I am classified officially as possessing superior intelligence and I am belatedly and finally using it. I want nothing more.

"The multiple legal actions against Ashworth constitute my farewell legacy and are to be prosecuted to the end, whether I am alive or dead. My will is completed and my affairs are in precise order. There is nothing more to be said."

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console

In his own words: extracts from Brady's letter
Extracts from Brady's letter

See also:
28 Feb 00 |  UK
Moors murderer seeks right to die
28 Feb 00 |  UK
Treating a 'psychopath'
28 Feb 00 |  UK
The Moors murders
28 Feb 00 |  UK
Anger at Moors murderer film

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Links to other UK stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories