Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Graham Young, the St. Albans Poisoner

Epilogue

Parkhurst prison
Parkhurst prison
 

Graham Young served his sentence in the maximum security Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight, where he died in 1990, aged 42. The official diagnosis was a heart attack, but many have their doubts. In 'the Young Poisoner's Handbook," the movie made about the story in 1995, it's suggested he killed himself by typically ingenious poisonous means. Others suspect fellow Parkhurst inmates.

Video cover: The Young Poisoner's Handbook
Video cover: The Young Poisoner's Handbook

"I wonder if he tried to do the same poisoning tricks he pulled off in Broadmoor," offers Peter Goodman, "only someone took offence this time."

Anthony Holden, author of the book "The St. Albans' Poisoner," backs up that theory, asking "Who in his right mind...would want to spend an indefinite period incarcerated with a man who could extract poison from a stone - or in this case, perhaps, iron bars - in order to kill some time by doing just that to his everyday companions?"

St. Alban's Poisoner in wax
St. Alban's Poisoner in wax

Whatever the cause of his death, Young would appear to have achieved a degree of the immortality he craved. He would often ask people if they thought he would ever have the honor of having a waxwork made of him and installed in the "Chamber of Horrors" in London's Madam Tussaud's museum. He dreamed of taking his place in there alongside one of his heroes, Dr. Crippen. His wish was finally granted a few years later.

Parkhurst prison is reserved for Britain's most dangerous prisoners, usually those with mental problems. But in legal terms Young was of sane mind when he committed his crimes. He was bad rather than mad.

'There was obviously something not right in his head," concludes Goodman. "I felt sorry for the guy."

By all accounts, that's considerably more than Graham Young ever felt for anyone.

When asked if he felt remorse, he replied, "No, that would be hypocritical. What I feel is in the emptiness of my soul."

Winifred Young remembers telling him he should get out more, and try and make more friends.

"No," he said, "Nothing like that can help. You see, there's a terrible coldness inside me."

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