Triple-killer 'cannibal' told: you'll never be freed

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The Independent Online

A real-life Hannibal Lecter who ate the brain of one of his victims was told today that he would remain behind bars for the rest of his life.

Triple-killer Peter Bryan, 35, had a bizarre urge to eat human flesh. After killing his friend Brian Cherry, 43, frying his brains in butter and eating them, Bryan wanted more victims.

The Old Bailey was told he wanted to go on killing and eating people because it gave him a thrill and he felt invincible.

He was sent to Broadmoor special hospital but within two months attacked and killed fellow patient Richard Loudwell, 59.

He said he regretted that he was discovered before he had tasted his flesh.

Sentencing him to two life sentences, Judge Giles Forrester told him he would never be released because he was too dangerous.

Later, the family of Mr Cherry called for the death penalty to be reinstated.

The court was told that the mental health system had let the public down after Bryan was released from Rampton special hospital where he was sent after the manslaughter of a shop assistant in 1993.

Aftab Jafferjee, prosecuting, said: "The last two killings have taken place when the defendant was under the care of the mental health regime which has manifestly failed to protect the public."

Bryan, originally from east London, pleaded guilty to the manslaughters of Mr Cherry and Mr Loudwell on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Detective Inspector Simon Creasey, one of the senior Scotland Yard officers in the case, today described Bryan's sentence as "entirely appropriate".

"The fact that Peter Bryan has pleaded guilty to manslaughter has saved the respective families of his victims the trauma of a potentially lengthy court case," he said.

"The judge's decision that Peter Bryan should spend two life sentences in a high-security unit is entirely appropriate in my view, bearing in mind the horrific nature of the crimes he committed.

"My officers and our colleagues from Thames Valley Police worked hard to bring these cases to an appropriate conclusion and ensure that justice was done for the families of Brian Cherry and Richard Laudwell.

"I hope that today's outcome goes some way to easing the pain of those families. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time."

Judge Forrester told Bryan: "You killed on these last two occasions because it gave you a thrill and a feeling of power when you ate flesh.

"The violence on each occasion was extreme and unpredictable, accompanied by bizarre and sexual overtones.

"The seriousness of the offences is exceptionally high, even having regard to your illness.

"You had an urge not only to kill but to eat the flesh of your victim.

"On the first occasion, you did so because for a while you were uninterrupted.

"You ate his flesh. You fried his brain in his kitchen.

"In a case such as this the protection of the public must come before any other consideration."

Judge Forrester said Bryan was "extremely dangerous" because of his illness and his ability to mask it by appearing calm and co-operative.

The judge said arrangements had been made to take him from the court back to Broadmoor.

Mr Jafferjee told the court: "The case reveals a chilling insight into the mind of a man who has literally developed an appetite for killing.

"The circumstances of this defendant's offending, the inability of experts to detect when he is at his most dangerous, and his settled desire to cannibalise his victims, all combine to make him uniquely dangerous."

Bryan was sent to Rampton special hospital in 1994 after admitting the unlawful killing of 20–year–old shop assistant Nisha Sheth, who was beaten to death with a hammer in 1993.

He was released in June 2001 into the care of a psychiatrist and social worker.

Mr Jafferjee said mental health experts decided Bryan could possibly be returned, under supervision, to more community–based treatment.

Just months before Bryan killed his next two victims, psychiatrists and social workers were remarking that there had been a "continued improvement" in his behaviour.

Mr Jafferjee added: "In February 2000 a planning meeting noted that the defendant's mental state was stable on modest doses of medication.

"The multi–disciplinary team was of the opinion that he presented a risk.

"However, by February 2001 the nursing staff thought he had made considerable progress in regard to his 'behaviour, attitude, maturity, relationships, anger and insight'."

Bryan was transferred from Rampton in June 2001 to the John Howard Centre after a six–month trial leave project agreed by the Home Office.

After applying to a Mental Health Review Tribunal in 2002, he was moved to the Riverside Hostel in north London where he was allowed door keys and could come and go as he pleased.

Mr Jafferjee said another risk assessment, in September, concluded that Bryan "presented a moderate risk of violence over the next six to 12 months".

"In November 2002 his mental health social worker wrote to the Home Office stating that matters had settled down and there were no further concerns – the defendant seeming to have made a full recovery," said Mr Jafferjee.

"It was thought that he did not present any major risks."

In October 2003 – four months before Bryan would kill again – psychiatrists noted there had been "a continued improvement in his mental state" and discussed plans for a move to independent accommodation.

And in January 2004, just four weeks before Mr Cherry's murder, said counsel, social workers applied for a transfer of Bryan to "low–support accommodation".

Bryan was later transferred to an open psychiatric ward at Newham General Hospital for his safety after allegations that he had indecently assaulted a 16–year–old girl near the hostel.

While there, said counsel, Bryan "appeared to be settled".

"No psychotic symptoms were observed," said Mr Jafferjee, adding: "These expert opinions and observations were to be overwhelmingly confounded in less than 24 hours."