Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder on the Moors: The Ian Brady and Myra Hindley Story

Damning Evidence

16 Wardle Brook Avenue
16 Wardle Brook Avenue

When Lesley Ann's naked body was found in a shallow grave, with her clothing at her feet, the police had nothing but hearsay and circumstantial evidence to connect Brady and Hindley to her death. They needed much more. A more thorough search of the house at Wardle Brook Avenue on 15 October gave them the evidence they needed.

A left-luggage ticket, found tucked into a prayer book, led police to a locker at Manchester Central station. Inside were two suitcases filled with pornographic and sadistic paraphernalia. In amongst these were nine semi-pornographic photographs of Lesley Ann Downey, showing her, naked, bound and gagged, in a variety of poses in Myra Hindley's bedroom. A tape recording was also found. The voice of a girl could be heard screaming, crying, and begging for her life. Two other voices, one male and one female, could be heard threatening the child. Police were able to identify the adult voices as belonging to Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, but they needed Ann Downey's assistance to identify the child's voice. She listened in horror to her daughter at the last moments of her life.

Even with damning evidence mounted against them, Brady and Hindley denied murdering Lesley Ann. As in the case of Edward Evans, they attempted to implicate David Smith. They claimed that Smith had brought the girl to the house so Brady could photograph her. The tape recording was of their voices as they attempted to subdue the girl so they could take the pictures. Hindley protested that she had only used a harsh tone with the girl because she had been concerned that neighbours would hear her. As far as they were concerned, Lesley Ann had left their house, unharmed, with Smith. Smith must have murdered her later.

The evidence, which linked Brady and Hindley to the murder of John Kilbride, while not as overwhelming, was sufficient to charge them. They found the name "John Kilbride" written, in Brady's handwriting, in his notebook and a photograph of Hindley on John's grave at the moors. It was also found that Hindley had hired a car on the day of John's disappearance and returned it in a muddy state and, according to Hindley's sister, Brady and Hindley shopped at Ashton market every week.

Despite all of their efforts, the police were unable to find the bodies of the two other missing children or any evidence to link Brady and Hindley to their disappearance. They had to content themselves with prosecuting the pair only for the murders of Edward Evans, Lesley Ann Downey, and John Kilbride.

On 27 April 1966, Hindley and Brady were brought to trial at Chester Assizes where they pleaded "not guilty" to all charges. Throughout the trial, they continued their attempts to blame David Smith for the murders, a cowardly stance that only served to deepen public hatred of them. At no time during the trial did they show any remorse for their crimes or any sorrow toward the families of their victims. To those who were present at the trial, both Brady and Hindley appeared cold and heartless.

Despite protestations of their innocence, Ian Brady was found guilty of the murders of Lesley Ann Downey, John Kilbride, and Edward Evans. Myra Hindley was found guilty of the murders of Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans and for harbouring Brady in the knowledge that he had killed John Kilbride. They escaped the death penalty by only a couple of months as "The Murder (Abolition of the Death Penalty) Act 1965" had come into effect just four weeks before their arrest.

 

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