He has been called Britain’s true “Hannibal the Cannibal”.
And several murderers Robert Maudsley has spent more than 40 years in solitary confinement.
He is the longest serving prisoner in Britain and is housed in a special underground cell in Wakefield Prison – called the Monster Mansion.
MaudsleyThe now 67-year-old killed four men, three of whom were inmates in prison, and has been labeled “brain eater” and “cannibal”, although there is no evidence that he ever ate any of his victims.
However, friends and family have described him as meek, kind, and intelligent. He is said to have a brilliant IQ and love poetry, art and classical music.
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Yorkshire Live took a look back at the bizarre and tragic life story of Maudsley, whom a detective described as “a really intelligent, clever guy”.
- 1 Maudsley’s Abusive Childhood
- 2 Chaotic teenage life
- 3 Commit his first murder
- 4 Maudsley’s second murder – and the macabre nickname
- 5 Maudsley’s murder continues
- 6 “At the next roll call there will be two short ones”
- 7 Solitary confinement
- 8 Request to be allowed to die
- 9 Life for Maudsley now
Maudsley’s Abusive Childhood
Robert John Maudsley was born in Liverpool in 1953, but when he was six months old he was cared for at Nazareth House in Crosby, Liverpool, along with his two older brothers Kevin and Paul and sister Brenda because their parents were absent Able to cope.
The Maudsley children spent nine years in the Roman Catholic Center, which was cared for by nuns.
Towards the end of those nine years, the children’s parents, George and Jean, who were then living with their fifth child in Toxteth, Liverpool (they would eventually have seven more), came into contact again.
The three boys were abused by their parents.
Maudsley, looking back on his childhood, once said: “I only remember the beating of my childhood.
“Once I was locked in a room for six months and my father only opened the door to hit me four or six times a day. He hit me with sticks or sticks and once he struck my back with a .22 air rifle. “
Within 12 months of moving in with their parents, Robert – and Robert alone – was placed with foster parents.
Chaotic teenage life
At the age of 16 Maudsley fled to London. He used drugs and tried to commit suicide twice.
He spent time in psychiatric facilities and told hospital staff that he had heard voices ordering him to kill his parents.
The teenager became a sex worker in the capital to finance his drug use.
Commit his first murder
One night while Maudsley was working as a male prostitute, he was picked up by worker John Farrell.
Farrell reportedly showed him pictures of children he had molested, causing Maudsley to garrot him, stab him and hit him over the head with a hammer.
Maudsley’s second murder – and the macabre nickname
In 1977, aged just 24, Maudsley and another Broadmoor inmate, David Cheeseman, dragged convicted pedophile and fellow inmate David Francis to a room on their ward.
The couple held Francis hostage, barricaded the door, and tied him with the flex of a record player.
Maudsley and David Cheeseman tortured Francis for the next nine hours before finally shooting at him.
Geoffrey Wansell wrote What Happened Next in his book Pure Evil. “They held his body up so the staff could see him through the spy hole in the door.
“Legend has it that Francis ‘body was found with his head’ cracked open like a boiled egg ‘and a spoon hanging out.’
“In reality, Maudsley didn’t eat any part of his victim’s brain. A prison officer who worked with him stated that Maudsley actually made a makeshift weapon by cutting a plastic spoon in half to make a crude-pointed weapon.
“Then he chased his fellow inmate at Broadmoor by ramming him in the ear of his victim and penetrating the brain.
“Inevitably, the plastic spoon blade was covered in blood that was supposed to be ‘his brain’.”
Maudsley was convicted of manslaughter and taken to Wakefield Prison after a trial.
The victim’s autopsy report is believed to disprove the brain-eating rumors, but the nicknames that emerged later – “Hannibal the Cannibal” and “Brain-eater” – endure.
Maudsley’s murder continues
Within weeks of arriving at Wakefield Prison, Maudsley had killed again – twice.
On a Saturday morning in 1978, he lured fellow inmate Salney Darwood, who was being held for the murder of his wife, into his cell.
Maudsley tied a garrote around Darwood’s neck and banged his head against the walls repeatedly, swinging it around. He hid the body under his bed and reportedly tried to get other inmates into his cell, but was unsuccessful.
Instead, he went out and entered Bill Roberts’ cell, whom he attacked with a homemade serrated knife – and killed him within minutes.
“At the next roll call there will be two short ones”
After the two murders, Maudsley quietly went to a prison guard’s office, put the knife on the table, and announced that there would be “two quick ones when it comes to the next roll call.]
Watch: Rump criminals locked up in December 2020
During his 1979 murder trial, the court was told that while he was furious, Maudsley believed his victims were his parents.
The murders, according to his lawyers, were the result of pent-up aggression from a childhood of practically constant abuse.
Maudsley said, “When I kill, I think I have my parents in mind.”
“If I had killed my parents in 1970, none of these people would have died. If I had killed them, I would walk around the world a free man without worry.”
He was convicted of both murders and sentenced to life behind bars in Wakefield. However, this was not when he was granted full life. It was Home Secretary Michael Howard who later decided that Maudsley should never be released.
Detainee 467637 has been in his cell for 23 hours out of 24 hours from the day Maudsley announced there would be “two short roll calls.”
He has been in solitary confinement for more than 40 years.
He once wrote: “The prison authorities see me as a problem. Their solution was to put me in solitary confinement and throw away the key to bury me alive in a concrete coffin. I have to stagnate, vegetate and regress …”
In 1983 a specially designed cell was made for Maudsley at HMP Wakefield, where he has been since.
The 5.5 x 4.5 m room is practically a two-room cage with bulletproof Plexiglas windows and a team of prison officers to look after it.
The cell is also said to have an uncanny resemblance to the cell Hannibal Lecter was housed in in “Silence of the Lambs”, despite the fact that it was built seven years before the film was released.
To reach the unit, a visitor has to go through 17 locked steel doors and the only furniture is a table and chair, both made of cardboard. The toilet and sink are bolted to the floor, while his bed is a concrete slab with a mattress.
The longest inmate ever spent in solitary confinement is Albert Woodfox, who was incarcerated almost continuously in a six-by-nine-foot cell for 43 years before being released from a Louisiana prison in 2016.
Request to be allowed to die
In 2000, Robert Maudsley applied for a cyanide pill instead of facing the rest of his life on his own.
His motion for death was brought before Judge Maurice Kay of the Liverpool High Court. It was released after a five-day hearing.
After the hearing, Maudsley wrote a letter to a newspaper that read, “What is the purpose of keeping me locked up 23 hours a day?
“Why should I even bother to feed myself and give myself an hour of exercise a day? Who am I at risk for?
“As a result of my current treatment and delivery, I feel like all I have to look forward to is a mental breakdown, mental illness, and likely suicide.
“Why can’t I have a budgie instead of the flies, cockroaches and spiders I currently have? I promise to love them and not eat them? Why can’t I have a TV in my cell to see the world and learn?” Why can’t I have music tapes and listen to beautiful classical music?
“If the prison service says no, I will ask for a simple cyanide capsule, which I will gladly take, and Robert John Maudsley’s problem will be solved easily and quickly.”
Life for Maudsley now
Former cop Paul Harrison interviewed Maudsley and said he was a “smart guy”.
He said, “You have done bad things and 99.9% deserve to be where they are, but there are some to make you think.
“You have the image of a monster. A terrible, bad man. He has this reputation that was immortalized by the service. I had all these preconceived ideas.
“But when we communicated, I could understand why he was doing what he was doing.
“If you didn’t know him and what he did and saw him in the bar … he’s a really smart, smart guy who made you smile.
“He would talk about everyday things. A lot [serial killers] are very intense and narcissistic and talk about themselves and I haven’t found him like that at all.
“He’s the only one who actually made me think, ‘Wow – that’s different from any serial killer. Maudsley is different.”
Harrison sided with Maudsley in his repeated requests for the solitary confinement to be relaxed.
The detective added, “He doesn’t want to be released from prison. He’s been there too long. His problems are more about being treated the same as other prisoners – getting some fresh air.
“But because he’s a special category and a threat to society, it’s like he’s become a legend. Even in the prison system.
“He killed two peadophiles. But I felt real compassion for him. There are people in the prison system who are worse than him who can get away with a lot more.
“I came out and wrote to the Home Secretary. I wrote to the Queen, everyone, and never got a single answer.”
Maudsley’s health is said to have worsened in recent years, and there is also evidence that his mental health has worsened and he spends his days dying behind bars.
Maudsley has been the longest serving British prisoner since the death of Ian Brady in 2017.