Between 1963 and 1965, Ian Brady and his girlfriend Myra Hindley abducted, tortured and murdered five children, later burying their bodies on Saddleworth Moor, near Oldham in North West England. Convicted of three murders in 1966, both were given life sentences in prison, never to be released.

On 15 May 2017, Ian Brady died of heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at Ashworth Secure Psychiatric Hospital in Merseyside where he has been held for the past 17 years. Since his death questions over what will happen to his remains have been raised.

Ian Brady

Ian Brady on his way to court in April 1966

The crimes of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley are amongst the most heinous in British history. A couple who worked together to lure children and adolescents into their car for the sole purpose of torture, rape, and murder. Their first victim was 16-year-old Pauline Reade who Hindley persuaded to get into her car on 12 July 1963 while Brady followed behind on his motorbike. They took her to Saddleworth Moor where Brady and Hindley raped and abused the young girl before slitting her throat and burying her body.

Four months later on 23 November, they snatched 12-year-old John Kilbride off the street, again raping the child before killing him. They took photos of themselves smiling and laughing at the spot on the Moor where they buried his body. 12-year-old Keith Bennett was taken on 16 June 1964, the only one of their victims whose body has never been found despite extensive searches across the Moor.

Myra Hindley and Ian Brady

Myra Hindley and Ian Brady

Lesley Ann Downey was just 10-years-old when she was snatched from a fairground on 26 December 1964. Taken back to their house in Hattersley, Manchester, the pair inflicted hours of torture on the young girl, making her pose for photographs while bound and recording the abuse they carried out on a tape recorder. Heart-breaking recordings where young Lesley can be heard screaming and begging to be let go that would later be played in open court when they came to trial.

Their final victim was 17-year-old Edward Evans who met the couple at Manchester Central Station and agreed to accompany them back to their home. This time Brady wanted to show off what he was doing and he called in Hindley’s brother-in-law, 17-year-old David Smith, to watch. With a history of violence himself, Brady thought Smith was like him and would enjoy these sickening acts as much as he did. He was mistaken.

“Whether or not the beginnings of psychosis played a part, his crimes are those of the sadistic psychopath – enjoying dominating others to the point of extinguishing them, with little capacity to appreciate the feelings of others or to experience guilt or remorse.” – Dr Raj Persaud & Dr Peter Bruggen, Psychology Today

After Brady viciously attacked Edward Evans with an axe and bragged about their other kills, David Smith feared for his own life and helped the pair clean up the murder. When he thought he could get away without raising suspicion he went home and told his wife, before calling police on 7 October 1965.

When police officers searched Brady and Hindley’s home, the body of Edward Evans was found upstairs.  After further searches, the bodies of Lesley Ann Downey and John Kilbride were found buried on Sandleworth Moor. Police had circumstantial evidence to connect Brady and Hindley to the disappearances of Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett but not enough to charge them.

They both pleaded not guilty to the murders of Edward Evans, Lesley Downey, and John Kilbride when brought to trial on 27 April 1966, however, after two weeks of harrowing evidence they were unanimously found guilty. Ian Brady only narrowly missed being hung for his crimes with hanging being abolished in the UK just one month after he was arrested. Instead of the death penalty, both Ian Brady and Myra Hindley received life imprisonment.

Ian Brady has always refused to reveal where he buried the body of 12-year-old Keith Bennett. “I don’t know now if Brady will ever tell me where my Keith is buried. He could take it to the grave with him. I suppose that would be his final sick twist,” Keith’s mother said shortly before she died in 2012.

Ian Brady's victims

Ian Brady’s victims Edward Evans, Keith Bennett and Pauline Reade, (top row), John Kilbride and Lesley Ann Downey (bottom row)

Now after his death, such is the hatred for this man and the horrific crimes he committed that a number of funeral homes have expressed their wishes not to have anything to do with the body of Ian Brady through fears of repercussions on their own business in the future.

Brady’s partner in crime, Myra Hindley, died in 2002 at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds after a suspected heart attack with up to 20 funeral directors around the area refusing to be involved in her funeral and burial.

“I’m not here to judge anybody. She’ll be judged by someone greater than me. But everyone who has asked me this, I have put the question to them: how would they feel if it was their mother or their grandfather in the same chapel of rest or in the same hearse as Myra Hindley?”

During the inquest into Ian Brady’s death held on 16 May 2017, it was discovered that Brady wished for his ashes to be scattered on Saddleworth Moor, the same place he buried his victims. It was information which prompted senior coroner Christopher Sumner to refuse the release of his body until he was assured by Brady’s lawyers that this would not happen. “I think it would be offensive if Mr. Stewart-Brady’s ashes were scattered on Saddleworth Moor,” he said.

He also stipulated a number of conditions that must be met before he would release Brady’s body, including confirming a funeral director who is willing to hold his funeral and a crematorium willing to cremate his remains.


Flowers left on Saddleworth Moor in remembrance of the children murdered by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley

In a repeat of the response after the death of Myra Hindley, few places are willing to have any involvement in the funeral of Ian Brady. In the city of Brady’s birth, Glasgow City Council has already refused to hold his funeral and have stated they have recommended all crematoriums in the city to also refuse involvement.

Ian Brady’s body is expected to be released to his lawyer and the location of his funeral and cremation is most likely not going to be revealed. An online petition has been launched to have Ian Brady’s remains buried in a pauper’s grave in the grounds of Ashworth Hospital, the one place he tried to get out of many times since his incarceration.

Brad Savage who started the petition which has now reached almost 1000 signatures says “I think it would be a fitting place. Keep him there even in death. A true fitting degradation of his memory that he would not have liked.”  The brother of Brady’s fourth and youngest victim Lesley Ann Downey has stated he has been waiting for 50 years to hear the news of Ian Brady’s death, adding “He now takes his place in hell and he can rot there. As far as I am concerned, Ashworth Hospital can leave him out for the bin men.”