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Monday, 18 November, 2002, 14:01 GMT
Hindley faced new murder charges
Myra Hindley
Myra Hindley's solicitor said she was no longer an "icon of evil"
Fresh murder charges were being considered against Moors murderer Myra Hindley at the time of her death, it emerged on Monday.

Hindley, who died in hospital on Friday, and Ian Brady were jailed for life in 1966 for the murders of 10-year-old Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans, 17.

But she later admitted killing 12-year-old Keith Bennett and Pauline Reade, 16, and helped police to unearth the latter's body on Saddleworth Moor. Keith's body has never been found.

Police have been guarding her body since her death amid concerns that someone might attempt a revenge attack or try to take photographs of the corpse.

An inquest into Hindley's death was opened and adjourned on Monday.

A Home Office pathologist told the hearing the 60-year-old had died from from a combination of bronchial pneumonia and hypertension.

It emerged on Monday that Greater Manchester Police and the Crown Prosecution Service were compiling a file which could have seen her charged with the murders of Keith and Pauline.

Legal challenge

Police, encouraged by Keith's mother Winnie Johnson, began working on the fresh murder charges when it became clear Hindley, 60, had a good chance of winning her freedom through a legal challenge.

Keith Bennett
Keith Bennett's body has never been found
In June the European Court in June ruled that home secretaries had no right to determine how long killers were kept behind bars.

It now appears that if she had won her freedom after 36 years she would have been charged with the two youngsters' murders.

A police spokesman said: "We have reviewed the situation with regard to the possibility of further criminal charges, including examining the evidence from the 1960s and 1980s alongside specialists from the CPS.

"At the time of Hindley's death, the matter was being considered by us and the CPS and the report is likely to be completed in the next few weeks. No options have as yet been ruled out," he said.

Greater Suffolk Coroner Peter Dean is due to open an inquest on Monday at Highpoint prison near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, where Hindley served the last years of her life sentence.

She died of respiratory failure at West Suffolk Hospital.

Meanwhile her solicitor Andrew McCooey has told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Hindley was a changed woman from the "icon of evil" depicted by the tabloid press.


She somehow found a way back to being a human being

Andrew McCooey, Hindley's solicitor

Mr McCooey, who visited Hindley more than 100 times, said she had reformed and regretted her part in the deaths of five youngsters.

Suicidal

"She was a very quiet, gently spoken woman who truly was a changed person," he said.

"I've visited many criminals in prison over the years but she struck me as one of those few who truly are genuinely remorseful for her crimes."

Mr McCooey said being separated from Brady's influence enabled Hindley to change.

"She somehow found a way back to being a human being, and in my view an outstanding human being because she changed," he said.

Hindley, who was Britain's longest serving woman prisoner, told Mr McCooey that had she not rediscovered her faith and become a devout Catholic, she may well have killed herself.

"She accepted that humanly she could never be forgiven, but she found peace... with God," he said.

Police have refused to say when her funeral will take place, but she is expected to be cremated in Cambridge.

Mr McCooey said he would be among the 12 or so family and friends expected to attend, including her mother, who lives in a Manchester nursing home.

Her ashes are then expected to be scattered at an undisclosed location.

Brady, now 64, is currently being held at the high security Ashworth Hospital on Merseyside and has said he never wants to be freed.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Steve Kingstone
"This would have kept her in prison no matter how long she'd lived"
Andrew McCooey , Hindley's former solicitor
"Had she not met Brady she would never have committed these crimes"

Key stories

The Moors murderers

Who was Hindley?

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

18 Nov 02 | England
16 Nov 02 | England
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