Moors murderer Ian Brady claims to have killed four more people as he loses legal bid for transfer to prison

75-year-old serial killer argues he was merely a 'a petty criminal'

Moors murderer Ian Brady claimed in letters that emerged last night to have killed four more people. He also claimed that the body of child victim Keith Bennett was buried in Yorkshire, suggesting police have been looking in the wrong area for decades.

The letters written by Brady, who with accomplice Myra Hindley murdered five children, and were revealed after the killer lost his plea to be transferred from a secure hospital to a prison, where he claims he will be able to kill himself.

In the letters, written to former journalist Brendan Pittaway and seen by The Daily Telegraph, Brady claims to have killed four adults as well as the five children.

He said he killed a man on “waste ground behind the station” and a woman “in the canal” in Manchester, while in Scotland he said he murdered a man in Glasgow and another “above Loch Long”. He described each of the new murders as “happenings”. Brady, 75, also made the claims several years ago to Detective Chief Superintendent Peter Topping, who led the search for the body of Keith Bennett in 1985.

Mr Topping recalled the claims in his autobiography and had serious doubts that they were true. Even Brady had suggested they could be figments of his own imagination.

The suggestion that the body of Keith Bennett was in Yorkshire rather than Lancashire where searches had been carried out was made in a later dated 24 November 1989.

In it he wrote: “As for Keith Bennett. The area of the site is in Yorkshire, not Lancashire, and should have been dealt with by the Yorkshire Police.” However, he holds a grudge against Greater Manchester Police. He could also have been disingenuous about changes in county boundaries.

Whatever the truth of the claims, he is likely to spend the rest of his life in a secure mental unit after failing to convince a £250,000 tribunal that he is sane, though he has a right to appeal.

Experts and campaigners yesterday raised concerns over the public proceedings, which cost £250,000 to stage, claiming publicity surrounding the eight-day hearing could cause “stigma” to those suffering from mental illness.

Families of Brady’s victims welcomed the decision to keep him at Ashworth hospital on Merseyside, where he will continue to be treated for an extreme personality disorder and schizophrenia.

The 75-year-old, who is now Britain’s longest-serving prisoner, had hoped to return to jail claiming to have faked psychosis before being detained under the Mental Health Act in 1985.

But an expert panel concluded that the serial killer continued to pose a danger to himself and others. The tribunal will publish the reasons for its decision at a later date.

Alan Bennett, brother of victim Keith Bennett said: “I will be happy with wherever Brady is unhappiest. At the moment I know that is Ashworth for Brady. If I could be 100 per cent sure he would end up disliking any other place even more, I would say let him go.”

Families were critical of giving the killer a platform to try to justify his five paedophile murders. They argued the money should have been used to find the child’s body.

Detectives from Greater Manchester Police watched Brady give evidence on a video link in a Manchester courtroom in case he revealed details of further crimes.

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity Sane, said disagreements between experts during the tribunal had painted a “disturbing and polarising picture of mental illness.”

She said: “The spotlight on high-profile cases where society has to judge whether someone is mad or bad can only further the stigma for people struggling with the daily reality of mental illness and disorder.“

Dr Kevin Murray, clinical director at Broadmoor, said: “Tribunals should be held either all in public or none in public - not a hit list. But I think it is essential that psychiatry doesn’t happen behind closed doors and there is proper scrutiny of our decisions that people are detained for treatment.”

During the hearing Brady gave evidence for four hours in which he described his killings as “recreational” and “petty crimes.” The tribunal also heard that he ate toast and drank soup whilst claiming to be on hunger strike for the past 14 years.

Brady is one of 700 people being held under the Mental Health Act at three high security institutions. It is estimated that he is among between 50-100 individuals with a similarly extreme pathology.

Dr David Fearnley, medical director and consultant forensic psychiatrist at Ashworth said: “It is a testament to the staff of Ashworth Hospital that we have been able to stabilise his schizophrenia to the degree we have. However, his condition is chronic and will require this support for the foreseeable future.”

Brady and his accomplice Myra Hindley were convicted in 1966 of the murders of John Kilbride, 12, who was snatched off the street in 1963, Lesley Ann Downey, 10, who was lured away from a funfair on Boxing Day 1964, and Edward Evans, 17, who was killed in October 1965.

The couple later confessed to murdering Pauline Reade, 16, who disappeared on her way to a disco in 1963 and Keith Bennett, abducted the following year as he left home to visit his grandmother.

Brady spent the first 19 years of his life sentence in high security prisons, later claiming to have associated with notorious criminals such as the Kray brothers and the great train robbers.

However, psychiatric reports from the time suggested he was fearful of his fellow inmates and refused to exercise with them. He was sectioned in 1985 but during that time has managed to keep up a steady stream of correspondence with the outside world.

He fought a long campaign to have his tribunal heard in public and during his evidence he denied he was suffering from a mental illness displaying what experts described as extreme narcissistic behaviour, in which he railed furiously against Ashworth staff, refusing to co-operate with treatment programmes.

In one of the most shocking exchanges he hit out at “media fascination” with his past, complaining he was treated like Jack the Ripper and compared reports of the shocking killings to the Sherlock Holmes novel The Hound of the Baskervilles and the Gothic romance Wuthering Heights.

Under the Mental Health Act, Brady is able to apply for a review of his detention every 12 months. Victims’ families believe he will challenge the findings at an upper tribunal.

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