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Ian Brady's confinement: Shakespeare, Plato, learning German and cutting hair

The 75-year-old appeared in court today to plead his sanity as he wants to be transferred to a normal prison instead of the high-security hospital he is currently in.

Ian Brady in the 1960s.
Ian Brady in the 1960s.
Image: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

ONE OF BRITAIN’S most notorious killers, Moors murderer Ian Brady, spoke publicly and at length for the first time since 1966 today as he told a tribunal he was not mentally ill.

The 75-year-old, wearing a dark suit, white shirt and tie and speaking in a soft Scottish accent, admitted he talked to himself, but said: “Who doesn’t talk to themselves?”

He said he disliked “feeble” people and revealed he had spent his life sentence so far memorising chunks of Shakespeare and Plato, studying German and psychology and even working as a prison barber.

Brady and his accomplice Myra Hindley killed and tortured five children between 1962 and 1965 and buried their bodies on the bleak Saddleworth Moor in the Peak District National Park in northwest England.

Hindley died in custody in hospital in 2002 aged 60, while Brady was held in various prisons before being transferred to the high-security Ashworth Hospital in 1985.

The mental health tribunal, held at the hospital near Liverpool in northwest England, is considering his request to be transferred to a normal prison.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of moors murderer Ian Brady appearing via video link at Manchester Civil Justice Centre. (Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

Brady’s lawyers argue that he has a severe narcissistic personality disorder but is not mentally ill.

But officials at Ashworth say he remains a paranoid schizophrenic who needs around-the-clock care.

In his first public remarks since his trial, Brady complained about the management and staff at Ashworth, which he said was a “penal warehouse”.

“Some of these psychiatrists, I would throw a net over them. I would not allow them on the street. They are unbelievable,” he said.

Brady was asked by his lawyer, Nathalie Lieven, how he explained supposed hallucinations and episodes of talking to himself.

“Well, first of all – prison. I was in solitary confinement for a time,” he told the hearing, which was relayed to the press and public on television screens in Manchester.

“I would memorise whole pages of Shakespeare and Plato and other people and recite them all to myself while walking up and down exercising in the cell.

“If I interact with the TV, (former prime minister) Tony Blair or something on, and make any comment, this is interpreted as psychosis.

And who doesn’t talk to themselves? This is a question people very rarely ask.

His conversations with staff and other patients at Ashworth, meanwhile, covered “everything”.

“Eclectic – I can’t stand robotic, feeble, whether psychologists or just ordinary people, if I think they are just going through a list of checkpoints,” Brady said.

Asked about the theory that he stayed in his room because he was paranoid about other patients, he said he was trying to avoid the “negative, regressive, provocative staff”.

Brady has reportedly been on hunger strike since 1999 and is being force-fed, but a nurse told the tribunal on Monday that he made himself toast every morning. It is thought he may try to starve himself to death in prison.

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