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Authors: Carol Ann Lee

One of Your Own

BOOK: One of Your Own
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Carol Ann Lee is an acclaimed biographer and has written extensively on the Holocaust. Following her ground-breaking research on Anne Frank, the Dutch government reopened the investigation into the Frank family’s betrayal. She is also the author of two novels and three books for children. Her works have been published in 15 countries.
The Life and Death of Myra Hindley
Carol Ann Lee
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Epub ISBN: 9781845968991
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Copyright © Carol Ann Lee, 2010
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First published in Great Britain in 2010 by
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ISBN 9781845967017
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Dedicated to the memory of
Joe Mounsey, Alex Carr and Dennis Barrow
and for
Ian Fairley, Mike Massheder and Bob Spiers
‘Here there is no why’
Concentration camp guard, quoted in Primo Levi,
Survival in Auschwitz
‘I had my hair done on Saturday. It looks so nice that I’m sorry I’m all dressed up and nowhere to go (joke)’
Myra Hindley, letter to her mother, 17 April 1966, two days before the ‘Moors trial’ opened at Chester Assizes
‘There’s never been a single book on this case that’s got the facts right,’ former Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Fairley told me. As Hyde police station’s newest member of the CID, Fairley was one of three policemen to enter 16 Wardle Brook Avenue on the morning of 7 October 1965, bringing the Moors Murders to an end. His statement underlines one of my primary reasons for writing this book: the facts have never been properly told.
I can’t remember when I first heard about the crimes committed by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. They occurred before I was born but have seeped into the national consciousness over the years, becoming something we absorb as part of our collective history. Although there have been other similarly horrific crimes in the decades that have passed since then, the Moors Murders case remains unparalleled in terms of the strength of emotion it provokes and the sense of utter incomprehension that a woman could abduct children with her lover, then collude in their rape, murder and burial on the moor. Repulsion at Hindley’s part in the crimes, above all, gives the case its notoriety.
Myra Hindley died in prison in November 2002 but remains as omnipresent in death as she was in life. There have been acres of newsprint written about her since the 1960s, several books about the case, as well as documentaries and drama series. Those who attempt to say anything in her defence are met with a storm of protest while those who feel that she was evil are accused of being too emotional and unwilling to believe in redemption. The truth, as always, is more complex. It is an unbearable fact that Myra Hindley was capable of love and kindness towards her family and friends, adoring of her niece and the children of those who visited her in prison, yet had been responsible for the sadistic murder of other children. The dichotomy is difficult to process – it calls to mind how the perpetrators of the Holocaust were able to inflict torture and murder on a vast scale, then return home to their families quite clear of conscience. Contrary to what some sections of the media would have us believe, people who commit monstrous acts look no different to the rest of humanity and have likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses too. What sets them apart are their choices – acts of appalling cruelty and violence – but otherwise they exist among us as nursery nurses, doctors, office workers, shopkeepers . . . In some cases, they are even children themselves – Mary Bell, Constance Kent, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, the Doncaster boys who cannot be named . . .
What lay behind Hindley’s choices and whether she was genuinely remorseful or not remain points of contention. She and her supporters claim that she acted under duress and had redeemed herself, while her victims’ families and a large section of the public believe her crimes were committed out of sheer wickedness and her remorse was simply a facade to win her freedom. This book explores her motivation and what followed it as dispassionately as possible in order to leave the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.
A biography of Myra Hindley understandably draws accusations of sensationalism and unnecessarily raking over painful memories; I hope to have steered clear of the former, while the latter may also be true of almost any study of contemporary history. I’ve also tried to give a voice to the people who are rarely heard in books of this kind: the victims’ families. Myra Hindley’s supporters and friends present their views, but it seems to me that a book about someone who has committed murder should reflect – if they wish it – the impact on the people closest to the victims. The book also draws on the memories of the policemen involved with the original investigation, none of whom have ever spoken in-depth publicly about the case. Their recollections result in the overturning of a number of persistent misconceptions. Myra Hindley’s recently released prison files give new insights into the woman, her crimes and the institutions that contained her. They include personal papers, prison reports, documents and correspondence, many of which are published here for the first time.
Several books have been written on the Moors Murders case since the trial in 1966, focusing on the crimes and their detection. To date, there has only been one biography ‘proper’, published in 1988:
Myra Hindley: Inside the Mind of a Murderess
, by Jean Ritchie. Well researched, it was nonetheless written over 20 years ago, before such a vast archive of new documentation was made public, and focused on her life in prison. Duncan Staff’s
The Lost Boy
(2007) is the most recent publication on the Moors Murders; he met and corresponded with Hindley and was permitted access to some of her personal papers. Despite its subtitle, ‘The definitive story of the Moors Murders and the search for the final victim’, there are a few inaccuracies throughout the book – for instance, the date when Keith Bennett went missing is given as 18 June 1964 when it was in fact 16 June, and the photograph purporting to be of Lesley Ann Downey’s funeral is actually the funeral of John Kilbride. There are others, some of which are flagged in the text as endnotes.
Myra Hindley remains a gauge of female iniquity;
One of Your Own
is both a study of the woman and her crimes, and an attempt to redress various factual errors that have accumulated over the years.
I am grateful to the many people who have assisted me during the course of writing this book. It is difficult to single out anyone most deserving of thanks, but I must first of all thank Danny Kilbride, who shared at length childhood memories of his brother John and explained quietly and rationally, but no less heartfelt for that, the effect of his loss on his family over the years.
For interviews and source material (and hospitality), I would like to thank Bernard Black and his wife Margaret, Joe Chapman, Allan Grafton, Yvonne Roberts, Duncan Staff (who kindly provided tapes of his documentaries on the case), Father Michael Teader, the Revd Peter Timms and his wife Veronica, and Sara Trevelyan. I am especially grateful to Andrew McCooey for his interview and for extending permission to quote from Myra Hindley’s own words. I must also offer a heartfelt thank you to Mrs Bridget Astor, who generously allowed me access to her husband’s papers, and to Geoffrey Todd and his secretary, Paula Corbett, for making them available to me. Anne Maguire shared painful memories of the wrongful imprisonment inflicted on her and her husband and two sons, and I am grateful to her for talking to me. I’d also like to thank Angela Handley for putting me in touch with Mo Statham and Anne Murdoch. I owe a special debt of thanks to Peter Stanford, who was particularly helpful and kind in giving me access to his letters from Myra Hindley and a (then) unpublished interview with Lady Anne Tree, as well as for putting me in touch with Bridget Astor, Anne Maguire and the Revd Peter Timms, and for providing a lively interview and ideas for further research. Clive Entwistle, the first reporter to speak to Myra Hindley and the most knowledgeable, gave me a terrifically helpful interview; his documentary,
The Moors Murders
(1999), is exceptional in its detail and accuracy. I must also thank Michael Attwell for his documentary,
Myra: The Making of a Monster
(2003), and Katie Kinnard for sending me a copy of Martina Cole’s documentary,
Lady Killers: Myra Hindley
(2008). Thanks, too, to Norman Luck for allowing me to draw on his interview with Dorothy Wing.
BOOK: One of Your Own
13.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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