After suffering years of abuse at the hands of his parents, Robert Maudsley ran away from home and began working as a prostitute in London to support his drug habit. It was there that he committed his first murder in 1973, for which he received a life sentence, however it would be behind bars that Maudsley would commit his most notorious crimes. Sent to the high-security psychiatric hospital at Broadmoor, he and another prisoner held a suspected paedophile hostage, torturing him for hours before killing him. He was then sent to Wakefield Prison, but disliking the transfer he committed two more murders on the same day, allegedly eating the brain of one of his victims. Because of that incident the press have dubbed him the British Hannibal Lector, the Cannibal Serial Killer from the movie Silence of the Lambs.
Robert John Maudsley was born on 26 June 1953, the fourth of twelve children who was sent to an orphanage along with three of his older siblings when he was still a baby. For the next six years he would be raised by the nuns at the Nazareth House Roman Catholic orphanage in Crosby, Merseyside. When he returned to the family home in the Toxteth area of Liverpool, he was regularly abused by his parents and he would later claim he was raped as a child. Once in 1970, when he was 16-years-old he was beaten so severely by his violent father, who worked as a lorry driver, that he left home to escape the abuse.
He went to London where he soon began taking drugs and was forced to resort to prostitution to support his growing addiction. It during his time as a rent boy 1973 that he was picked up by builder John Farrell who took him back to his flat in North London for sex. When Farrell produced some photographs of a young girl he had abused, 20-year-old Maudsley flew into a rage and slowly garroted him to death, watching as the man's face turned blue and then smashed him over the head with a hammer.
Arrested for this crime, he was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment, with a recommendation that he should never be released. Assessed by doctors, who believed his early childhood abuse left him with deep psychological scars, Maudsley was sent to the secure Broadmoor Hospital. In 1977 he would commit his next murder. Maudsley and another inmate, David Cheeseman took another patient named David Francis into a cell, barricaded the door and tied him up with flex from a record player holding his hostage. Francis was a suspected child abuser and both men tortured him to death over a period of almost 10 hours, with prison officers listening nearby, unable to help. After this Maudsley was transferred to Wakefield Prison in West Yorkshire, and was reportedly unhappy with the move and requested a return to Broadmoor, which was denied.
On the afternoon of 28 July 1978, Maudsley committed his most notorious murders. His first victim that day was Salney Darwood, a murderer serving a conviction for the manslaughter of his wife, who was invited into Maudsley's cell and then garroted and stabbed to death. Hiding the body under his bed, he then stalked the wing looking for more victims. His attempts to lure other prisoners into his cell failed because they were all wary and refused. Eventually he cornered inmate William "Bill" Roberts in his cell, stabbing him to death. Maudsley then hacked Roberts skull open with a makeshift dagger and smashed his head against the wall. After this he walked into the prison officer's guardroom, placed the dagger on the table and announced there would be two less names on the roll call. When officers found Roberts body, they allegedly found a spoon protruding from his ear, Maudsley having eaten part of his brain.
He was now considered the most dangerous prisoners in the UK prison system and in 1983 plans were made to construct a special unit because was deemed to much of a threat to be kept in the general population. Prison authorities had a two-cell unit built in the basement of F wing in Wakefield Prison which was known as the "glass cage" because of its resemblance to Hannibal Lector's cell. At around 5.5m by 4.5m, it is slightly larger than the average cell and has large bulletproof windows through which Maudsley can be observed and the only furnishings are one table and a chair which were made from compressed cardboard.
It was considered a long-term solution because Maudsley would never be considered for release due to his notoriety of his crimes. Within his new surroundings Maudsley, prisoner 467637, was left to serve out his sentence in almost complete isolation. The view from his tiny cell window is a brick wall, and he spends 23 hours of his day locked up, with only one hour for exercise, during which he is accompanied by six prison guards who escort him back and forth from his cell. In the early years of his sentence he would befriend cockroaches and for the next twelve years he let his fingernails grow like talons and hair his grew long and wispy because no prison barber would venture into his cell.
Despite his reputation, Maudsley is considered to possess a near genius level IQ and has a passion for fine art, literature, classical music and poetry. He regularly writes letters to prison officials, describing his life behind bars as "like being buried alive in a concrete coffin", and has also written to newspapers about his treatment, describing how "Prison authorities see me as a problem. Their solution has been to put me in solitary confinement and throw away the key, to bury me alive in a concrete coffin. I am left to stagnate, vegetate and regress...". He is known throughout the prison by other inmates, who refer to him by the nicknames "blue", because of the colour his victims turned before death and "spoons", after his use of one after the murder of Bill Roberts.
Although he is allowed no contact with other inmates, there are other inmates considered too dangerous who are held within the basement at Wakefield. One such inmate is Charles Salvador, formerly known as Charles Bronson who was sent to Wakefield as one of Britain's most violent prisoners for his involvement in numerous hostage situations. When he arrived at Wakefield, Bronson attempted to form a friendship with Maudsley, suggesting the two should "team up", and sent a watch to Maudsley telling the guard to "give that to Bob".
However Maudsley sent it back, telling someone, "I'm never getting out, what do I want a watch for? Give it back". Because of this Bronson took offence and allegedly said, "I'm going to kill you when I see you". Maudsley would often jokingly reply back, "You've never killed anyone, you soft cunt!". Reportedly, the two inmates would often get along, and at other time they would clash. Once Bronson left his trademark John Lennon sunglasses in the gym, and Maudsley went and found them. Bronson threatened to sue the prison system for £250, and Maudsley eventually returned them telling the guard, "tell Charlie to stick them up his arse".
Although he has become resigned to his fate inside his perspex prison, Maudsley has made several requests to prison officials. Sometime in 2000 he asked for the terms of his imprisonment be relaxed and he be allowed a pet Budgerigar, but was denied, and so he requested permission to commit suicide through the use of a cyanide capsule. In 2010 he pleaded with the Home Office to be allowed to play board games with prison staff, to help alleviate the monotony of his life in solitary. He was interviewed in prison and was quoted as saying, "If I had killed my parents in 1970, none of these people need have died". With the death of Ian Brady, the Moors Murderer on 15 May 2017, Maudsley is now the UK's longest serving prisoner.
Written by Nucleus