Ian Brady, the Moors murderer, will appear in public for the first time in years to argue for a move from a top-security hospital so he can fulfil his wish to die in a mainstream prison.
Brady, who with his partner, Myra Hindley, was responsible for the murders of five youngsters in the 1960s, will appear at only the second mental health tribunal to be held in public as he pushes for a move from Ashworth Hospital, where he has been held for the past 25 years.
Brady has been on hunger strike since 1999 to try to end his life but has been force-fed through tubes at Ashworth. The procedure is allowed at psychiatric hospitals. But the rules are different in prison and it would not be allowed. "Without the powers of the Mental Health Act it will not be possible for the authorities to continue with this forced-feeding regime," said his solicitor, Richard Nicholas, in a statement.
Brady – now aged 73, and who has said he wants to die in a Scottish prison – failed in a legal attempt 10 years ago to be allowed to starve himself to death.
The High Court was given a letter in 2001 in which he stated: "I have merely decided that after 34 years' captivity, and a future of dying slowly in a regressive, penal warehouse, I wish to exit."
Successive governments have ruled out freeing him because of the brutality of his crimes. Hindley died in prison in November 2002, aged 60.
Judge Robert Atherton agreed in October to allow the hearing to be held in public following an application by Brady but it could be reported for the first time only yesterday. No date or venue has been set.
Brady, then aged 28, was convicted in 1966 with Hindley of murdering Lesley Ann Downey, 10, and Edward Evans, 17. Brady was also convicted of murdering John Kilbride, 12. The pair lured the children away and sexually tortured them before they buried their bodies on Saddleworth Moor, near Manchester. In 1987, the pair admitted killing Keith Bennett, who was snatched in 1964, and Pauline Reade, 16, who disappeared on the way to a disco. The pair were taken back to Saddleworth Moor in 1987 to help police to find the remains of the missing victims, but only Pauline's body was found.
This year, Keith Bennett's mother, Winnie Johnson, made a DVD appealing to Brady after she was diagnosed with cancer. In it, she pleaded with Brady to reveal the location of her son's body, saying it was her "last chance".
In October, the first psychiatric patient to have an appeal against detention held in public lost his legal battle to be freed from Broadmoor Hospital. Albert Haines, 52, made legal history when he successfully argued that his case should be considered at an open hearing. But a mental health tribunal ruled that the nature or degree of his mental disorder meant he should not be released from the high-security psychiatric institution. Haines was convicted of two counts of attempted wounding in September 1986 after he tried to attack a doctor and a nurse at the Maudsley psychiatric hospital in Camberwell, south London.
Moors Murders Timeline
Myra Hindley meets Ian Brady and swiftly becomes infatuated with him.
Hindley claims that Brady starts to talk of the "perfect murder". They kill Pauline Reade in July and, four months later, John Kilbride, after he is lured away from a market.
Keith Bennett is snatched after leaving his house to visit his grandmother. Lesley Ann Downey, 10, is enticed from a funfair on Boxing Day and killed.
Edward Evans, 17, is murdered at the couple's home in Manchester. Brady's brother-in-law witnesses the killing and calls the police.
The pair are jailed for life at Chester Assizes.
Brady is declared criminally insane and moved to Ashworth high security hospital.
Police discover the remains of Pauline Reade but fail to find any trace of Keith Bennett's body. Brady returns to Saddleworth moor under guard but fails to find anything.
Ian Brady goes on hunger strike.
Myra Hindley dies in prison.
Brady waves away officers when they walk into his ward to talk to him about finding Keith Bennett's remains.
Police say they will never again allow Brady the "thrill" of leading detectives on a fruitless search.