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Robert John MAUDSLEY






A.K.A.: "Blue" - "Spoons" - "Hannibal the Cannibal"
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Cannibalism? - Officially classified as Britain's most dangerous prisoner
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: 1974 / 1977 - 1978
Date of birth: June 1953
Victims profile: John Farrell, a man who picked him up for sex / A fellow inmate / Salney Darwood and Bill Roberts (fellow inmates)
Method of murder: Strangulation - Stabbing with homemade knife
Location: United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to life in prison (solitary confinement)

Known within the prison system as "Hannibal the Cannibal" after the psychopath in the film Silence of the Lambs. Jailed in 1974 for stabbing and garrotting an uncle, in the 25 years he has murdered three fellow inmates. He cut open the head of one victim with a serrated knife and was said to have bragged that he loved the sight of blood.

He was sent to Broadmoor, where he captured fellow prisoner David Francis in 1977 and tortured him for nine hours. After he murdered Francis he held his body aloft to prison staff who had been bargaining for the hostage's life.

Maudsley was moved to Wakefield high-security prison, where he stabbed two more prisoners to death with a home-made knife in 1979. Prison chiefs ordered him to be locked in a zoo-like cage with cardboard furniture and a concrete bed. He was later moved to a specially constructed pounds 50,000 cell in Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight. Michael Howard, when he was Home Secretary, ordered that Maudsley, 46, should never be released.


Robert Maudsley (born June 1953) is a British serial killer responsible for the murders of four people.

He was one of twelve children, born in Liverpool, and spent most of his early years in an orphanage. He reportedly found the orphanage relatively pleasant compared to staying with his parents - he was retrieved by them at the age of eight years old. Maudsley was beaten regularly by his parents until he was eventually rescued by social services.

During the late 1960s, as a teenager, Maudsley was a rent boy in London. He often suffered sexual abuse at the hands of older men, which developed in him a hatred of paedophiles, and he also developed a drug habit.

In 1974, aged 21, Maudsley killed a man who picked him up for sex. Maudsley was arrested and sent to Broadmoor Hospital for the criminally insane. In 1977, Maudsley and another inmate took a third prisoner hostage and locked themselves in a cell with their captive, whom they tortured and killed. When the prison guards eventually smashed their way into the cell, the hostage was found to have had his skull cracked open and a spoon was wedged in his brain. Maudsley confessed to eating some of the victim's brain matter.

After this incident, Maudsley was convicted of manslaughter and sent to Wakefield Prison. He did not like this transfer one bit and made it clear he wanted to go back to Broadmoor. Eventually, in 1978, he lured a fellow prisoner named William Roberts to his cell and brutally stabbed him to death. Maudsley then went on the prowl around the wing hunting for a second victim, eventually cornering and stabbing to death a prisoner named Stanley Darwood. Thrown into solitary for these killings, Maudsley told prison guards, "I adore the sight of blood."

Maudsley is currently held securely behind bars in solitary confinement and is unlikely to ever be released.

His crimes were largely ignored by the British press until 1993, when a tabloid newspaper ran a sensationalised article on him, dubbing Maudsley "The Real Hannibal Lecter", a reference to the fictional cannibal killer in the 1991 movie The Silence Of The Lambs.


Robert John Maudsley (born June 1953) is a British serial killer responsible for the murders of four people. He committed three of these murders in prison after receiving a life sentence for a single murder. He is alleged to have eaten part of the brain of one of three men he killed in prison, which has earned him the nickname "Hannibal the Cannibal" among the British press.

Early life

He was one of 12 children, born in the Toxteth area of Liverpool, and spent most of his early years in Nazareth House (an orphanage run by nuns) in Crosby, Liverpool. At the age of eight, he was retrieved by his parents and beaten regularly until he was eventually removed from their care by social services.

During the late 1960s, as a teenager, Maudsley was a rent boy in London to support his drug addiction. He was finally forced to seek psychiatric help after several suicide attempts. It was during his talk with doctors that he claimed to hear voices telling him to kill his parents.


In 1974, Maudsley garrotted a man who picked him up for sex after the man showed Maudsley pictures of children he had sexually abused. Maudsley was arrested and later sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation that he should never be released. He was sent to Broadmoor Hospital for the criminally insane.

In 1977, Maudsley and another inmate took a third patient (a convicted paedophile) hostage and locked themselves in a cell with their captive, before torturing him to death. When guards eventually smashed their way into the cell, the hostage's skull was found cracked open a spoon wedged in his brain and pieces missing. It is believed that Maudsley ate part of his victim's brain.

After this incident, Maudsley was convicted of manslaughter and sent to Wakefield Prison. He disliked the transfer and made it clear he wanted to return to Broadmoor.

One afternoon in 1978 he killed two more fellow prisoners. Maudsley's first victim of the day was sex offender Salney Darwood. Maudsley had invited Darwood to his cell, where he garroted and stabbed him before hiding his body under his bed. He then attempted to lure fellow prisoners into his cell, but all refused.

Maudsley then went on the prowl around the wing hunting for a second victim, eventually cornering and stabbing prisoner Bill Roberts to death. He hacked at his skull with a makeshift dagger and smashed his head against the wall. Maudsley then calmly walked into the prison officer's room, placed the dagger on the table and told him next roll call would be two short.

A New Room

In 1983, Maudsley was deemed too dangerous for a normal cell, so prison authorities built a two-cell unit in the basement of Wakefield Prison to house him for the continuation of his confinement. The cell is perspex and the furniture is made of cardboard .

He remains in solitary confinement 25 years on, and once a day he is allowed out of his cell for one hour's exercise in a yard 20 feet long by 12 feet wide. Every move he made was always under watchful eye of at least five guards. He has not come into contact with any other inmates since being moved into the cell.


The caged misery of Britain's real 'Hannibal the Cannibal'

Multiple killer Robert Maudsley has spent more than 20 years in solitary. His supporters say this only repeats the abuse that led to his crimes

By Tony Thompson - The Observer

Sunday April 27, 2003

'It does not matter to them whether I am mad or bad. They do not know the answer and they do not care just so long as I am kept out of sight and out of mind'. Robert Maudsley.

They called him 'Blue' because that was the colour the face of his first victim had turned as he slowly strangled him. Then he became known as 'Spoons' after killing again and leaving the body with a spoon sticking out of the skull and part of the brain missing.

His third and fourth victims died on the same afternoon and soon afterwards Robert Maudsley acquired the nickname that has stuck: Hannibal the Cannibal.

Although he is now nearly 50 and has not committed a crime for more than 25 years, Maudsley is officially classified as Britain's most dangerous prisoner, a man said to represent such a high risk to those around him that he has spent the past quarter of a century in virtual isolation. With no prospect of ever being released, he will remain in prison in isolation until he dies.

Maudsley's bizarre and tragic story will be highlighted by Channel 5 next month as part of its Hideous Crimes documentary series. Using unprecedented access to members of his family, friends and former inmates, as well as Maudsley's own letters and psychiatric sessions, the programme paints a startling portrait of the abusive childhood that turned the man into a killer.

It will also mark the start of a new campaign to improve Maudsley's quality of life, on the grounds that his treatment could lead to further mental breakdown and is therefore a breach of his human rights.

'The prison authorities see me as a problem, and their solution has been to put me into solitary confinement and throw away the key, to bury me alive in a concrete coffin,' Maudsley wrote recently. 'It does not matter to them whether I am mad or bad. They do not know the answer and they do not care just so long as I am kept out of sight and out of mind.

'I am left to stagnate, vegetate and to regress; left to confront my solitary head-on with people who have eyes but don't see and who have ears but don't hear, who have mouths but don't speak. My life in solitary is one long period of unbroken depression.'

It is a situation that has appalled his supporters, who say that Maudsley is the victim of an uncaring and unsympathetic prison system that virtually denies him treatment and does nothing to assist in his rehabilitation.

Maudsley is housed in a 'glass cage', a two-cell unit at Wakefield prison that bears an uncanny resemblance to the one featured in The Silence of the Lambs. It was built for Maudsley in 1983, seven years before the film was released. At around 5.5m by 4.5m, the two cells are slightly larger than average and have large bulletproof windows through which inmates can be observed.

The only furnishings are a table and chair, both made of compressed cardboard. The lavatory and sink are bolted to the floor while the bed is a concrete slab.

A solid steel door opens into a small cage within the cell, encased in thick Perspex, with a small slot at the bottom through which guards pass him food and other items. He remains in the cell for 23 hours a day. During his daily hour of exercise, he is escorted to the yard by six prison officers. He is not allowed contact with any other inmates. It is a level of intense isolation to which no other prisoner, not even Myra Hindley, has been subjected.

Maudsley has a genius-level IQ, loves classical music, poetry and art. He is keen to take an Open University degree in music theory. Friends and family describe him as gentle, kind and highly intelligent. They enjoy both his company and his sense of humour.

'Since getting to know Bob, I have seen many prison documents about him,' says Jane Heaton, who began writing to Maudsley three years ago and has visited him several times. 'Everyone concentrates on the crimes he committed 25 years ago.

'It's as if they are living in a time loop and no one is prepared to look at how he is now. I would like to see him get an independent review of his condition and find a suitable course of treatment for him.'

The most recent pictures of Maudsley are more than 20 years old and were taken from a documentary made about his time in prison a few years into his regime of solitary. The rigours of solitary have taken their toll and today Maudsley looks far older than his 49 years. He has a grey beard, his hair is long and wispy and his skin, pale from lack of sunlight, is sucked in across his cheekbones.

During his last murder trial in 1979, the court heard that during his violent rages Maudsley believed his victims were his parents. The killings, his lawyers argued, were the result of pent-up aggression resulting from a childhood of near-constant abuse. 'When I kill, I think I have my parents in mind,' Maudsley said. 'If I had killed my parents in 1970, none of these people need have died. If I had killed them, then I would be walking around as a free man without a care in the world.'

Maudsley was born in June 1953, the fourth child of a Liverpool lorry driver. Before his second birthday, Robert, his brothers Paul and Kevin, and sister Brenda were all taken into care after they were found to be suffering from 'parental neglect'.

The young Robert spent most of his infancy at Nazareth House, a Roman Catholic orphanage run by nuns in Liverpool. During that time he formed a close bond with his brothers but barely knew his parents, who used to visit occasionally. Several years later, during which time they had eight other children, they took the first four back home.

It was to be the start of a horrific campaign of physical abuse. His brother Paul remembers: 'At the orphanage we had all got on really well. Our parents would come to visit, but they were just strangers. The nuns were our family and we all used to stick together. Then our parents took us home and we were subjected to physical abuse. It was something we'd never experienced before. They just picked on us one by one, gave us a beating and sent us off to our room.'

The worst, however, was reserved for Robert. 'All I remember of my childhood is the beatings. Once I was locked in a room for six months and my father only opened the door to come in to beat me, four or six times a day. He used to hit me with sticks or rods and once he bust a .22 air rifle over my back.' While his brothers had some vague memories of his parents, Robert had been too young and never knew them at all.

He was eventually taken away by social services and placed in a series of foster homes. His father told the rest of the family he had died. Robert drifted down to London at 16, developed a massive drug habit and spent the next few years in and out of psychiatric hospitals after repeated suicide attempts. On numerous occasions he told doctors that he could hear voices in his head telling him to kill his parents.

Working as a rent boy to support his growing drug habit, Maudsley committed his first murder in 1973 after being picked up by labourer John Farrell for sex. When Farrell produced pictures of several children he had abused, Maudsley flew into a rage and garrotted him.

Declared unfit to stand trial, Maudsley was sent to Broadmoor hospital for the criminally insane and remained there for three years. What happened next has become the stuff of prison legend. In 1977 he and another psychopath took a third patient, a paedophile, hostage and barricaded themselves into a cell. They then tortured their victim for nine hours before garrotting him and holding his body aloft so that guards could see him through the spy hatch. According to one guard, the man was discovered with his head 'cracked open like a boiled egg' with a spoon hanging out of it and part of the brain missing.

Ironically, despite killing a patient in Broadmoor, Maudsley was found fit to stand trial. Convicted of manslaughter, he was sent not to hospital but to Wakefield Prison, otherwise known as the Monster Mansion. Maudsley arrived at Wakefield to find his reputation had preceded him. Dubbed 'cannibal' and 'brain-eater', he had been at the prison for only a matter of weeks when he set off on another killing spree.

According to other inmates who were there at the time, Maudsley set out to kill seven people that day. The first was sex offender Salney Darwood. He lured him into his cell and cut his throat, then hid his body under his bed. Maudsley then spent the rest of the morning trying to find other people to lure back, but no one would go with him. 'They could all see the madness in his eyes,' said one.

Eventually, he sneaked into the cell of 56-year-old Bill Roberts and attacked him as he lay on his bunk, hacking at his skull with a makeshift knife and then repeatedly dashing his head against the wall.

He then calmly walked into the wing office, placed a serrated home-made knife on the desk and informed the guards that they would be two short when it came to the next roll-call.

Convicted of double murder, Maudsley was inexplicably sent back to Wakefield Prison. Unable to mix with others for his and their safety, he was moved into solitary confinement and has remained there ever since.

During a spell in Parkhurst, on the Isle of Wight, Maudsley met psychiatrist Dr Bob Johnson, who, after three years of interviews and counselling, believed that he was making great progress and was three quarters of the way through removing the aggression and latent violence that made Maudsley such a danger. But then, without warning, the treatment was cut off and Maudsley was moved back to Wakefield.

'As far as I can tell, the prison authorities are trying to break him,' says his brother Paul. 'Every time they see him making a little progress, they throw a spanner in the works. He spent a time in Woodhill prison, and there he was getting on well with the staff, even playing chess with them. He had access to books and music and television. Now they have put him back in the cage at Wakefield. His troubles started because he got locked up as a kid. All they do when they put him back there is bring all that trauma back to him.'

Maudsley himself agrees: 'All I have to look forward to is further mental breakdown and possible suicide. In many ways, I think this is what the authorities hope for. That way the problem of Robert John Maudsley can be easily and swiftly resolved.'


Killer begs for budgie or suicide

March 23, 2000

Maudsley was deemed untreatable after a killing at Broadmoor.

One of Britain's most notorious serial killers has written letters pleading for the terms of his solitary confinement to be relaxed or to be allowed to commit suicide.

In a series of letters to The Times, murderer Robert Maudsley asks for access to classical music tapes, a television, pictures, toiletries and a budgerigar.

Maudsley, who has spent almost 25 years in solitary conditions, writes: "If (the Prison Service) says no then I ask for a simple cyanide capsule which I shall willingly take and the problem of Robert John Maudsley can easily and swiftly be resolved."

The 46-year-old is an inmate at Wakefield prison where he is housed in a specially constructed cell called 'the cage'.

He is one of 26 offenders in Britain who have been told they will never be released, and spends all but one hour a day locked up.

In 1974 Maudsley committed the first of what would eventually be four killings and was convicted of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

He was sent to Broadmoor high security hospital in Berkshire where he killed a fellow inmate in 1977.

Psychiatrists deemed Maudsley untreatable and this time he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in the normal criminal justice system.

He was sent to Wakefield where a year later he killed two fellow prisoners in one day.

Budgie plea

Maudsley, likened by some newspapers to the character Hannibal Lecter from the film Silence of the Lambs, asks why he is not allowed to even talk to other inmates through a window.

He writes: "I am left to stagnate; vegetate; and to regress; left to confront my solitary head-on with people who have eyes but don't see and who have ears but don't hear, who have mouths but don't speak."

In another letter to The Times he asks: "Why can't I have a budgie instead of the flies and cockroaches and spiders I currently have? I promise to love it and not eat it."

The killer, who blames his traumatic and violent childhood for his crimes says he only poses a risk to sex offenders.

A spokesman for the Prison Service said no-one was available for comment.





Robert John Maudsley



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