Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Graham Young, the St. Albans Poisoner

'Diabolical Pains'

For all his "Frankenstein" jokes, Winifred Young was delighted to hear of her brother's "full recovery," and eagerly awaited his release from Broadmoor. She was happy to accept the authorities' view that he had been cured, even if she later admitted there was an element of wishful thinking at work. Fred Young was less thrilled, however, still finding it hard to forgive his son for the death of his beloved wife, not to mention the permanent damage Graham had inflicted on him. So when Graham stepped out of the prison gates on February 4th 1971, he went to stay with Winifred and her new husband Dennis in Hemel Hempstead, 40 miles north-west of London. Despite their worries, their food remained uncontaminated, although Graham was still insistent on extolling the virtues of Adolf Hitler, and on this occasion ranted on about a "final solution" style approach to the troubles in Northern Ireland, which were reaching a peak around that time. "Cured" he may have been. A deeply odd individual he remained.

According to Winifred Young, one of the first things her now 23-year-old brother did on his release was to make a 'sentimental journey" to the chemists where he had originally obtained his poisons. He proudly announced his identity to staff there, hoping his notoriety may have stood the test of time. He also returned to his old family home in Neasden, introducing himself to neighbors he had known as a teenager. He even visited his old school headmaster. Tellingly, he seemed much keener to remind them of his notorious past crimes than to boast about his rehabilitation.

Within a week of his release, Young began training as a storekeeper in Slough, and moved into a hostel nearby. Soon after his arrival, though, fellow hostel resident Trevor Sparkes, 34, began to experience sharp abdominal cramps and sickness. Graham suggested a glass of wine might help. That only seemed to make his symptoms get worse. His face swelled, and the vomiting increased, along with diarrhea and strange scrotal pains. Eventually Sparkes, an avid soccer player, was taken ill during a game when he seemed to lose control of his legs. Doctors couldn't find a satisfactory explanation, but he would continue feeling what he described as "diabolical pains" for years afterwards, and never played soccer again. Around the same time another man claimed to have had a drink with an intense young fellow obsessed with chemicals and poisons, and later committed suicide because of the incessant pain he experienced. Whether he was effectively Graham Young's second (or even third, if we count the Broadmoor cyanide incident) victim will surely never be proved.

Shortly afterwards, Young got a job as a store clerk at a photographic firm in Bovingdon, Hertfordshire, not far from his sister's home in Hemel Hempstead. When they asked for references, they were referred to the Broadmoor psychiatrist Dr Udwin, who wrote back assuring them that although Young had suffered "a deepgoing personality disorder," he had now made "an extremely full recovery." No mention of his erstwhile predilection for poisons, which might have been relevant considering highly toxic chemicals were used on the company premises.


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