Ian Brady's briefcases (lost personal documents of Moors Murderer; 1963-2017)
Between 1963 to 1965, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley committed some of the most notorious crimes in British history. Dubbed the Moors Murders, the couple were convicted in 1966 of murdering five children, burying four of the victims in Saddleworth Moor. Brady would ultimately become Britain's longest-serving prisoner until his death on May 15th, 2017. Since then, multiple attempts have been made to retrieve Brady's briefcases containing his personal documents, with speculation that the documents may reveal the location of Keith Bennett's body.
Both Ian Brady and Myra Hindley had troubled pasts prior to them becoming a couple. Brady had a history of committing petty crimes since his teenage years and was also accused of animal abuse, something he continually denied. By the early 1960s, he was working for a chemical company called Millwards and had become obsessed with the Nazis and the atrocities they committed. Meanwhile, Hindley was born to physically abusive and neglectful parents. Her father had expected her to be as tough as him, resulting in her using violence to resolve issues from a young age. She too began working at Millwards, where she met and became obsessed with Brady, ultimately becoming a couple by 1962. Brady would begin to indoctrinate Hindley regarding Nazism, to the extent Hindley changed her appearance to look more Aryan and thus please Brady.
On July 12th, 1963, the pair had committed their first murder. Hindley offered 16-year-old Pauline Reade a lift in a borrowed van, before requesting her assistance in retrieving a lost glove somewhere in Saddleworth Moor. After arriving at their destination, Hindley told Reade that Brady, who had arrived on the Moors via motorcycle that he would help with the search and instructed her to follow into the Moors. There, Brady would rape Reade, before nearly decapitating her through two slices into her throat and then burying her body in the Moor. Later that same year, on November 23rd, the couple offered 12-year-old, John Kilbride, a lift home in a Ford Anglia, with the promise of providing him a botty of sherry. They then requested his assistance in retrieving a lost glove on the Moor. Once at the Moor, Brady would sexually assault Kilbride before strangling him with a piece of string. His body was then buried in the Moor.
On June 16th, 1964, Hindley found 12-year-old Keith Bennett and asked for help in loading some boxes into her van, with Brady in the back. She again drove to the Moor, with Brady and Bennett venturing in to retrieve a lost glove. By the time Brady returned, he was carrying a spade; he had sexually assaulted Bennett before strangling him with a piece of string, burying his body somewhere in the Moor. On Boxing Day that same year, the pair encountered 10-year-old Lesley Ann Downey, who was seemingly alone at a funfair in Ancoasts. They requested her help to in taking some shopping to their car, and then to their home at Wardle Brook Avenue. Upon arriving at the house, the pair proceeded to undress, bound and gag, take obscene photos of, and ultimately rape and kill the girl. Her body was also buried in the Moor. Additionally, some audio tape recordings of the pair torturing and murdering Downey was found in suitcases Brady had left at Manchester Central Railway on October 16th, 1965, along with the obscene photos. A sixteen-minute recording was played back to a horrified open court. This evidence will never be released by the British court system, as possession of these materials would violate the Serious Crime Act 2015. However, a transcript is publicly accessible.
Finally, on October 6th, 1965, the couple arrived at Manchester Central railway station and invited 17-year-old Edward Evans back to their home. During this time period, Brady requested Hindley to have the latter's brother-in-law, David Smith, witness the murder, the motive of which was to indoctrinate him into their crimes. After getting Evans relaxed with wine, Brady proceeded to hit Evans fourteen times with a hatchet, before strangling him in front of Hindley and Smith. The body was then left in the spare bedroom, with plans for the body to be buried on the Moor. This crime would set about the downfall of the couple. Smith had returned home, horrified at the murder he had witnessed. The following morning, he contacted police, and at Hyde police station, detailed what he had witnessed to officers. Upon discovering Evans' body, police arrested Brady. On October 11th, Hindley too would be arrested. Police then searched Saddleworth Moor, discovering Downey's body on October 16th, and Kilbride's on October 21st. On May 6th, Brady was convicted of the murders of Kilbride, Downey and Evans, with Hindley found guilty of murdering the latter two. They would receive three and two consecutive life terms respectively.
The couple were not charged with the murders of Reade and Bennett, although the police strongly suspected they were involved in their disappearances. However, later confessions from both would generate new interest in discovering the bodies of Reade and Bennett, as well as other potential victims. On June 30th, 1987, a long-term search on the Moor for bodies resulted in success, with Reade's body being discovered not far from the location of Downey's. Despite repeated searches throughout the years, Bennett's body has never been recovered. Hindley would die aged 60 on November 15th, 2002. Brady would be diagnosed as a psychopath in 1985 and was sent to Ashworth Hospital. He repeatedly requested to die, even going on hunger strike starting from 1999, though he was kept alive via being force-fed. He died on May 15th, 2017 of restrictive pulmonary disease, having been England's longest-serving prisoner.
Ian Brady's Briefcases
Upon Brady's death, interest regarding the contents of two locked briefcases owned by the Moors murderer began to emerge. Aside from helping to document Brady's life, as well as resolve other mysteries surrounding the Moors murderers, the main motivation surrounding the briefcases is that they may contain documents that detail the location of Bennett's body. Likely knowing the intrigue surrounding the briefcases upon his death, Brady requested that the cases be kept stored away by his lawyer, Robin Makin. In 2017, Greater Manchester Police requested a court order to search the contents of the briefcases. This request was denied because there was no potential investigation that could lead to prosecution.
Additionally, Keith Bennett's brother Alan wrote to Makin in a plea for him to release the documents with the belief that said documents may contain clues to the whereabouts of Keith's body. Despite further pleas coming from Alan and the police, Makin is said to have refused all requests and declined to comment on the matter.
Despite the setbacks, renewed hope that the briefcase contents may see the light of day emerged. A proposed bill known as the "Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill" was unveiled in Parliament on March 9th, 2021, with plans revealed by Home Secretary Priti Patel a month prior. Among the various legislation changes includes the ability for the police to obtain information regarding "the location of human remains where the suspect is deceased." This proposed change will therefore enable Greater Manchester Police the power to gain access to the briefcases on the grounds it could allow for the location of Bennett's body to be revealed. On April 30th, this bill is currently at the committee stage where further amendments can be proposed, with a report to be made to parliament by June 24th. Until then, the briefcases will likely remain in the hands of Brady's lawyer, with neither police nor the general public being granted access to its contents.
- GOV.UK factsheet concerning the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021, which may enable police access to the briefcases.
- Face to Face with Evil: Conversations with Ian Brady, which discussed Brady's early life. Retrieved 16 Jun '21
- Crime and Investigation detailing Hindley's early life. Retrieved 16 Jun '21
- Crime and Investigation, which detailed Hindley's obsession with Brady. Retrieved 16 Jun '21
- BBC News article detailing Pauline Reade's murder, and her body eventually being recovered. Retrieved 16 Jun '21
- BBC News article concerning the murders of all five children. Retrieved 16 Jun '21
- Crime and Investigation detailing the murder of Keith Bennett, and the continuing search for his body. Retrieved 16 Jun '21
- Topping: The Autobiography of the Police Chief in the Moors Murder Case, which detailed the Moors murders, including that of Lesley Ann Downey. Retrieved 16 Jun '21
- Telegraph article discussing the Downey audio tape and it being played to an open court. Retrieved 16 Jun '21
- Serious Crime Act 2015, which explains why the Downey evidence will never be publicly accessible, and why it should never be sought after by any lost media or crime enthusiast. Retrieved 16 Jun '21
- Transcript of the Downey audio tape. WARNING: NSFL. PLEASE DO NOT VIEW IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED OR DISTURBED BY SUCH CONTENT. Retrieved 16 Jun '21
- Crime and Investigation detailing Evans' murder. Retrieved 16 Jun '21
- Witness: The Story of David Smith, Chief Prosecution Witness in the Moors Murders Case, which detailed David Smith witnessing Evans' murder and telling what he had witnessed to police. Retrieved 16 Jun '21
- Guardian article detailing the sentences of Brady and Hindley. Retrieved 16 Jun '21
- BBC News article detailing the recovery of Pauline Reade's body, and the ongoing search for Keith Bennett's. Retrieved 16 Jun '21
- Guardian article detailing the death of Myra Hindley. Retrieved 16 Jun '21
- BBC News article detailing the death of Ian Brady. Retrieved 16 June '21
- BBC News article discussing the briefcases and the failed attempts to retrieve them from Brady's lawyer. Retrieved 16 Jun '21
- Liverpool Echo article concerning the failed attempts to retrieve the briefcases, and Brady's request for them to be kept secure. Retrieved 16 Jun '21
- The Sun article discussing the revealed "Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021" and how its introduction could lead to the briefcases being retrieved. Retrieved 16 Jun '21
- Current stage of the "Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill." Retrieved 16 Jun '21