Considering Ian Brady’s life and Death we must think more deeply upon crime and punishment
By Shane Flanagan
It’s over a week since the serial killer and rapist Ian Brady died, and this is the only conclusion which I can come to; considering Ian Brady’s life and death we must think more deeply upon crime and punishment. I have no specific answers, yet we can realise that Brady’s incarcerated life which marked most of his years poses us, as a society, many questions. It is often remarked how at the time of Brady’s arrest in the mid-sixties he escaped the hangman by mere months, with the death penalty being abolished in 1965. And I have no doubt that going to his death through a gallows fate would have pleased Brady more than a lifetime in prison, yet in prison this monster became a cause célébre, could haunt his victims further, release a belated book about the nature of serial killing and become a sympatric figure for idiotic do-gooders and waste court time on fallacious issues of “human rights”. In short, Brady’s incarcerated life became symbolic of a justice system caught swinging between punishment and rehabilitation.
This parody of justice is morally aghast considering the nature of the crimes of the Moors Murders, young children raped and murdered, and in one case recorded during this savagery and then abandoned in shallow graves. Obviously, these were not normal crimes, the heinous nature of them suggests mental illness or at least deficiency, and there is no doubt that Brady had some sort of personality disorder relating to narcissism. Yet, he still knew the difference between right and wrong and had to rationalise his crimes through philosophy, a bastardisation of Nietzsche which was popular during the Nazi-era in Germany with a smattering of French existentialism, Brady referred to his crimes as “existential exercises” in later life.
Yet, I believe he was compos mentis at the time, it was only in much later life which Brady developed the mental disorders that blighted him. Brady didn’t believe himself to be crazy which of course would make the layman believe he was, yet at looking at the facts of his life I have come to believe that he was little more than a jumped up criminal. His faux intellectualism had seemingly fooled many. One may ask why does this matter now? And for certain his life in Ashworth Prison was not comfortable but when we hear stories of hospital staff leaving biscuits lying around for this savage to eat during his supposed “hunger strike”, which he duly took, then we may think that no matter how uncomfortable hospital life was for Brady, it was perhaps too comfortable given the nature of his crimes.
At least Brady had always done society the favour of being genuinely unremorseful, thus stopping any idea of possible future release, the same can unfortunately not be said for the devil that was Myra Hindley. If Brady’s incarcerated life was parody, then Hindley’s was full blown satire, with her lesbian love affairs and campaigns for freedom enlisting the useful idiot Lord Longford and his misused Christianity, even at one point referring to herself as a “political prisoner”. We must also realise that during this public campaign for her release that she had not yet confessed to the murders of Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett, whose body remains missing on the moors, even after Brady and Hindley bargained themselves trips back to the Moors on an errant search for their victim, Hindley apparently enjoyed sleeping under a duvet during these excursions in the room set up for her by the police. The veracity for the motives on part of both parties is hard to tell but the body of Pauline Reade was found on one of Hindley’s excursions. Brady would go on to continually taunt Keith Bennetts mother Winnie Johnson over the fate of her child for the rest of her life.
If Brady was a specimen of inhumanity, then Hindley is more troubling in that she was all too human. She was not as she later presented herself the drone of Brady, and was more than a willing participant in murder. Indeed for the murder of Pauline Reade, and probably Leslie Ann Downey too, she was the one that abducted these children. Her contrition after her spate of love affairs was almost certainly false, yet her later conversion to Catholicism was harder to judge. By this time, she had largely given up on the prospect of freedom. Her last words at the time of her death in 2002 were of her mother, hardly the reticent Nietzsche superman of Brady’s twisted vision. Most probably Hindley was a bored girl with an average IQ who made the perfect candidate for Brady’s abhorrent philosophy. The two said they became “their own Gods”, and one must imagine that the power which they felt from killing overwhelmed their senses, a common feature among serial killers who become reckless in their methods over time as they did. Yet was Hindley Brady’s pawn? Unlikely in my estimation, in fact, if anything she seemed to further goad him into his evil, Lady Macbeth-like. Perhaps the truth is that some crimes are unforgivable, theologically this is a challenging point and our justice system is based correctly or incorrectly upon rehabilitation. Hindley wasn’t the political prisoner that she believed she was, just symbolic of a justice system caught between punishment and rehabilitation.
So, we must then ask ourselves the tough question, does the justice campaign, open university degree and jailhouse rock sex life of Hindley constitute as justice? Should Brady have been let lecture upon the philosophy of murder from his prison cell and let his do-gooder minions further torture his victim’s families? In one instance he gave a trustee a letter which he said contained the whereabouts of up to 20 meters of Keith Bennett’s body, she gave the letter back to him rather than opening it as she felt it put her in an invidious position. I respect anyone who thinks deeply upon the issue of justice with regards to these types of crimes and the individuals who perpetrate them, it is the least we can do for the victims.
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