Graham Frederick YOUNG
A.K.A.: "The Teacup Poisoner"
Classification: Homicide - Murderer
Characteristics: Juvenile (15) - Poisoner
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: 1962 / 1971
Date of birth: September 7, 1947
Victims profile: Molly Young (his stepmother) / Bob Egle and Fred Biggs (work colleagues)
Method of murder: Poisoning (thallium/antimony)
Location: London/Bovington, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to life in prison in 1972. Died in prison on August 1, 1990
Graham Young - The Compulsive Poisoner
The extraordinary story of the Teacup Poisoner, in Broadmoor aged 14 for killing his family; released as a 'reformed character'; back in for life when his workmates died after drinking the tea Young had made.
Graham Frederick Young was born in Neasden, North London, on 7th September 1947, to Fred and Bessie Young. Unfortunately, his mother developed pleurisy during pregnancy, and died of tuberculosis three months after her son’s birth. Fred Young was devastated by her death, and the infant was put into the care of his aunt Winnie, while his elder sister, Winifred, was taken in by her grandparents.
The young Graham spent the first two years of his life with his aunt and her husband, Jack, and became very close to them. When his father remarried in 1950, and reunited the family again in St. Albans, with his new wife, Molly, Graham showed visible signs of distress at being separated from his aunt. He went on to become a rather peculiar child, solitary in his habits, and made no effort to socialise with others his own age.
When he was old enough to read, he favoured sensationalist non-fiction accounts of murders, and Dr. Crippen, the infamous poisoner, was a particular favourite. By the time he reached his teens he had developed an unhealthy fascination with Adolf Hitler, and took to wearing swastikas, extolling the virtues of a “misunderstood” Hitler to anyone who would listen. He also read widely on the occult, claiming knowledge of Wiccans and local covens, trying to involve local children in bizarre occult ceremonies, which involved sacrificing a cat on one occasion. The subsequent disappearance of a number of local cats, around the same time, may have pointed to a more regular occurrence of these sacrificial ceremonies.
Academically, his only interests were chemistry, forensic science and toxicology, but the limited school coverage of these subjects forced him to advance his studies through extra-curricular reading. His father encouraged him, buying Young a chemistry set, which absorbed his attention for hours at a time. By the age of 13, Young’s comprehensive knowledge of toxicology enabled him to convince local chemists that he was, in fact, 17, and he procured a dangerous quantity of the poisons antimony, digitalis and arsenic for ‘study’ purposes, as well as quantities of the heavy metal, thallium.
Keen to put his knowledge of poisons to the test, his first victim was fellow science pupil, Christopher Williams, who suffered an extended period of vomiting, painful cramps and headaches, due to the judicious administration, by Young, of a cocktail of poisons that left medical experts baffled. Williams was lucky to survive, probably because Young couldn’t fully satisfy his scientific curiosity: monitoring the illness of his victim when he was sick at home wasn’t feasible. So he decided to focus on a group to whom he had unlimited access: his own family.
When the family began to show intermittent signs of poisoning during the early part of 1961, Young’s father initially suspected that Young might be inadvertently harming the family by the careless use of his chemistry set at home, but Young denied the accusation. The potential for deliberate poisoning was never considered, especially as Young had also been ill on a number of occasions. It remains unclear whether this was by design (to avoid detection), thorough scientific interest in his own reaction, or just carelessness of exactly which teacups he had poisoned.
When Young’s elder sister, Winifred, was found by doctors to have been poisoned by Belladonna in November 1961, Young’s father again suspected him, but took no action. Molly Young, his stepmother, became the concerted focus of Young’s attentions, gradually becoming more ill until finally, on 21st April 1962, she was found by her husband writhing in agony, in the back garden of their home, with Young looking on in fascination. She was rushed to hospital, where she died later that night. Her cause of death was determined as a prolapse of a spinal bone and she was cremated (not surprisingly at Young’s suggestion), with no further action taken at the time. It was later discovered that she had developed a tolerance to the antimony with which Young was slowly poisoning her, and he switched to thallium the night before her death to speed up the process. There were even reports of further nausea and vomiting attacks at her funeral: clearly the death of his stepmother had not dulled Young’s scientific curiosity.
Following Molly’s death, Fred Young’s attacks of vomiting and cramping became more frequent and increasingly severe, and he was also admitted to hospital, where he was diagnosed with antimony poisoning. He was lucky to have survived his son’s experimentation, but could not countenance his son’s responsibility: that role fell to Young’s school chemistry teacher, who contacted the police when he discovered poisons, and copious material about poisoners, in Young’s school desk.
Young was sent to a police psychiatrist, where his encyclopaedic knowledge of poisons soon became apparent, and Young was arrested on 23rd May 1962. He admitted the poisoning of his father, sister and school friend, Williams, but no murder charges were brought against him for the murder of his stepmother, as any evidence had been destroyed at the time of her cremation. Still only 14, he was committed to Broadmoor maximum-security hospital, the youngest inmate since 1885, for a minimum period of 15 years.
Incarceration barely dampened his enthusiasm for experimentation, and within weeks the death of an inmate, John Berridge, by cyanide poisoning, had prison authorities baffled. Young claimed to have extracted cyanide from laurel bush leaves, but his confession was not taken seriously, and Berridge’s death was recorded as suicide. On other occasions staff and inmates’ drinks were found to have been tampered with, including the introduction of an abrasive sodium compound, commonly called ‘sugar soap’, used for preparing painted walls, into a tea urn that could have caused mass poisoning had it not been discovered. He continued to read widely about poisoning, although he began to keep his obsession increasingly well hidden, when authorities made it clear that appearing less obsessed would speed up his release.
By the late 1960’s Young’s doctors seemed oblivious to his continued fatal fascination and recommended, in June 1970, that he be released as he had been ‘cured’. Young celebrated by informing a psychiatric nurse that he intended to kill one person for every year he had been in Broadmoor; the comment was recorded on his file but, amazingly, never influenced the decision to release him.
When Young was released on 4th February 1971, now aged 23, he went to stay in a hostel but had contact with his sister, Winifred, who had moved to Hemel Hempstead following her marriage. Despite having been poisoned by him, she was more forgiving than her father, who initially wanted nothing to do with his son. She was concerned by his fixation with his crimes: he took great delight in visiting the scenes of his past crimes, thriving on the reaction of his old neighbours in Neasden when they recognised who he was.
He made trips to London, where he stocked up on the antimony, thallium, and other poisons required for his experiments, and a fellow hostel resident, 34-year old Trevor Sparkes, was soon exhibiting the familiar cramps and sickness associated with any proximity to Young. Another man he befriended experienced such agony that he took his own life, although no connection to Young was established at the time.
Young found work as a store man at John Hadland Laboratories, a photographic supply firm in Bovingdon, Hertfordshire, where his new employers were aware of his Broadmoor stay, but not his history as a poisoner. They might have had some reservations, given the easy availability of poisons such as thallium, routinely used in photographic processes, but he had, in any case, already secured his poison supplies from unsuspecting London pharmacists. His willingness to make tea and coffee for his co-workers raised no concerns, therefore, and when Young’s boss, 59-year old Bob Egle, began to experience severe cramps and dizziness, it was attributed to a virus thought to be doing the rounds, known locally as the ‘Bovingdon Bug’, which had afflicted a number of local schoolchildren. Other Hadland workers complained of similar cramps, but none were ever as severe as Egle’s who, curiously, seemed to recover when off work ill, but instantly became sicker than ever on his return to work. He was eventually admitted to hospital where he died, in agony, on 7th July 1971. His cause of death was recorded as pneumonia.
In September 1971, 60-year old Fred Biggs began to suffer similar symptoms to Egle, and general absenteeism at Hadland increased dramatically, with employees suffering a variety of unusual and debilitating ailments, including the usual cramps, hair loss and sexual dysfunction. Various sources were considered, including water contamination, radioactive fallout and leakage of the chemicals used at the firm itself, but no real progress was made towards the cause.
Biggs was eventually admitted to the London Hospital for Nervous Diseases, but took a long time to die, a cause of some frustration to Young, who recorded his displeasure in his diary. But he eventually succumbed, on 19th November 1971, in excruciating pain.
This second death raised great concern within the firm: by this stage about 70 employees had recorded similar symptoms and there were fears for personal safety. The doctor on site tried to reassure staff, by insisting that health and safety rules were being strictly adhered to, and was taken aback when Young challenged him in front of colleagues, quizzing him on why thallium poisoning had not been considered as a cause, considering that it was used in the photographic process. The doctor was surprised at the in-depth toxicological knowledge espoused by Young, and brought it to the attention of the management, who in turn alerted the police.
Subsequent forensic enquiries revealed the thallium poisoning: the first recorded case of deliberate poisoning by this heavy metal ever recorded. Young’s poison conviction was soon unearthed, as were his collection of poisons, and meticulous diaries recording explicit dosages administered to individuals, and their reactions to the dosage over time.
Young was arrested in Sheerness, Kent, on 21st November 1971, where he had been visiting his father. A quantity of thallium was found on his person. Under interrogation, he admitted verbally to the poisonings, but refused to sign a written admission of guilt. He clearly relished the notoriety that his day in court would afford him.
Young’s trial commenced on 19th June 1972, at St Albans Crown Court, and he was charged with two counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, and two counts of administering poison. Young pleaded not guilty, and seemed confident that he would be acquitted, as his previous conviction could not be entered into evidence, and he felt it would be impossible to identify him as the only person with the means to poison Egle and Biggs.
He was delighted at the media hype that surrounded his trial, and did his best to appear sinister, in an attempt to unnerve the jury and assembled gallery, but was reportedly less than thrilled with the sobriquet ‘The Teacup Poisoner’, which he felt too parochial, belittling his skill and knowledge. He thought “World Poisoner” more appropriate.
He hadn’t reckoned with the advances made in forensic science in the decade since the death of his stepmother, however, and the effect that the reading of tracts of his diary, in which he cold-bloodedly lists the effects of his poisons, would have on the jury: he was found guilty on all charges on 29th June 1972, receiving four life sentences.
When the jury were apprised of his previous conviction, and his release as a “cured” mental patient only months before the crimes took place, they recommended an urgent review of the law regarding the public sale of poisons.
The Home Secretary also announced an immediate review of the control, treatment, assessment and release of mentally unstable prisoners, despite the fact that Young had been regarded as legally sane during his trial. The Aarvold Report, published in January 1973, led to the reform of the way these prisoners were monitored upon release, and resulted in the creation of the Advisory Board for Restricted Patients.
When asked whether he felt any remorse over his sadistic killings, he is said to have replied: “What I feel is the emptiness of my soul.”
Young was incarcerated at the maximum-security Parkhurst prison, on the Isle of Wight, the home of Britain’s most serious criminals, usually reserved for those with severe mental conditions. Here he befriended Moor’s Murderer, Ian Brady, who became infatuated with the 24-year old Young, although the attraction was not reciprocated. Brady described Young as genuinely asexual, excited only by power, clinical experimentation, observation and death. They spent considerable time together, playing chess and bonding over their fascination with Nazi Germany; Young regularly sported a Hitler moustache.
Young was thrilled when a waxwork of himself was added to the Madame Tussaud’s ‘Chamber of Horrors’, alongside his boyhood hero, Dr. Crippen.
Young died in his cell at Parkhurst on 1st August 1990, aged 42. The official cause of death was heart failure, although there remains conjecture that fellow inmates, who, with the exception of Brady, were always extremely wary of Young, may have poisoned him or, alternately, that he grew tired of prison life and poisoned himself, in one final gesture of control.
Young’s worldwide notoriety brought the effectiveness of thallium as a deadly poison into focus for the first time: it was used extensively as a coating on US missiles fired during the first Gulf War, to devastating effect.
In 1995, a black comedy about Young’s life, entitled ‘The Young Poisoner's Handbook’ was released in cinemas.
In November 2005 a 16-year old Japanese schoolgirl was arrested for poisoning her mother with thallium. She claimed to be fascinated by Young, having seen the 1995 film, and kept an online blog, similar to Young’s diary, recording dosage and reactions. Her mother remains in a coma.
Graham Frederick Young (10 September 1947 – 1 August 1990) was an English serial killer who used poison to kill his victims. He was sent to Broadmoor Hospital in 1962 after poisoning several members of his family, killing his stepmother. After his release in 1971 he went on to poison 70 more people, two of whom died. Young, who was known as the 'teacup poisoner', was then sent to Parkhurst Prison where he died of natural causes in 1990.
Early life and crimes
Young was born in Neasden, north west London. His mother died a few months after his birth. He was sent by his father to live with an uncle and aunt, while his sister went to live with grandparents. A few years later he was separated from his aunt and uncle in order to live with his father and new stepmother.
He was fascinated from a young age by poisons and their effects. In 1961 at age 14 he started to test poisons on his family, enough to make them violently ill. He amassed large quantities of antimony and digitalis by repeatedly buying small amounts, lying about his age and claiming they were for science experiments at school.
In 1962 Young's stepmother, Molly, died from poisoning. He had been poisoning his father, sister, and a school friend. Young's aunt Winnie, who knew of his fascination with chemistry and poisons, became suspicious. He sometimes suffered the same nausea and sicknesses as his family, forgetting which foods he had laced. He was sent to a psychiatrist, who recommended contacting the police. Young was arrested on 23 May 1962, confessing to the attempted murders of his father, sister, and friend. The remains of his stepmother could not be analysed because she had been cremated, and at the time her death was not treated as suspicious but rather as the result of complications from injuries sustained in a traffic accident.
Young was detained under the Mental Health Act in Broadmoor Hospital, an institution for patients with mental disorders who have committed offences, after having been assessed by two psychiatrists prior to his trial and diagnosed as suffering from a personality disorder, and also schizophrenia (classed under the law then as psychopathic disorder as it was linked to abnormal violence). Subsequent analysis has also suggested signs of the Autistic spectrum.(cf Bowden 1996).
His detention was subject to special restriction meaning that subsequent discharge, leave of absence etc. would have to be approved by the Home Secretary. The Hospital Order initially stipulated that he should be detained for at least 15 years. The Secretary of State later noted that the index offences, for someone found sane, carried a sentence of no more than seven or eight years. Young was released after nine years, deemed "fully recovered". In the hospital, Young had studied medical texts, improving his knowledge of poisons, and continued experiments using inmates and staff (one of whom died). It was rumoured that his knowledge of poisons was such that he could even extract cyanide from laurel bush leaves on the mental hospital grounds and that he used this cyanide to murder fellow inmate John Berridge.
After release from hospital in 1971, he began work as a quartermaster at John Hadland Laboratories in Bovingdon, Hertfordshire, near his sister's home in Hemel Hempstead. The company manufactured thallium bromide-iodide infrared lenses, which were used in military equipment. However, no thallium was stored on site, and Young obtained his supplies of the poison from a London chemist. His employers received references as part of Young's rehabilitation from Broadmoor, but were not informed of his past as a convicted poisoner. Young's probation officer never visited Young's home or place of work (official Aavold Report into the Young case, 1973).
Soon after he began work, his foreman, Bob Egle, grew ill and died. Young had been making tea laced with poisons for his colleagues. A sickness swept through his workplace and, mistaken for a virus, was nicknamed the Bovingdon Bug. These cases of nausea and illness, sometimes severe enough to require hospitalisation, were later attributed to Young and his tea.
Young poisoned about 70 people during the next few months, none fatally. Egle's successor sickened soon after starting work there, but decided to quit. A few months after Egle's death, another of Young's workmates, Fred Biggs, grew ill and was admitted to London National Hospital for Nervous Diseases (now part of the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery). It was too late and after suffering agony for several weeks, he became Young's third and final victim.
At this point, it was evident that an investigation was necessary. Young asked the company doctor if the investigators had considered thallium poisoning. He also told a colleague that his hobby was the study of toxic chemicals. Young's colleague went to the police, who uncovered Young's criminal record.
Young was arrested in Sheerness, Kent, on 21 November 1971. Police found thallium in his pocket and antimony, thallium and aconitine in his flat. They also discovered a detailed diary that Young had kept, noting the doses he had administered, their effects, and whether he was going to allow each person to live or die.
At his trial at St Albans Crown Court, which started on 19 June 1972 and lasted for ten days, Young pleaded not guilty, and claimed the diary was a fantasy for a novel. Young was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. He was dubbed "The Teacup Poisoner".
While in prison, he befriended fellow serial killer Moors murderer Ian Brady, with whom he shared a fascination with Nazi Germany. In his book, The Gates of Janus (2001) published by Feral House, Brady wrote that "it was hard not to have empathy for Graham Young". The reformed criminal Roy Shaw in Pretty Boy (2003), his autobiography, recounts his friendship with Young.
Young died in his cell at Parkhurst prison in 1990 at the age of 42. The cause of death was listed as myocardial infarction.
In popular culture
A film called The Young Poisoner's Handbook (1995) is loosely based on Young's life.
In November 2005 a 16-year-old Japanese schoolgirl was arrested for poisoning her mother with thallium. She claimed to be fascinated by Young, having seen the 1995 film, and kept an online blog, similar to Young’s diary, recording dosage and reactions.
A book was published in 2013 about the murders.
Graham Young, the St. Albans Poisoner
By Johnny Sharp - CrimeLibrary.com
During the summer of 1961, a strange virus seemed to be spreading through a small family home in a northern suburb of London, England.
Since February, 37-year-old Molly Young had suffered vomiting, diarrhea and excruciating stomach pain, which she initially dismissed as bilious attacks. Before long her husband Fred, 44, was also suffering, with similar stomach cramps debilitating him for days at a time. Then Fred's eldest daughter Winifred, 22, was violently ill on a couple of occasions that summer. Shortly afterwards, her brother Graham Young was violently sick at home.
It even seemed as if the mystery bug had spread beyond their household - a couple of Graham's school friends had also been off school ill a couple of times with similar painful symptoms.
In November 1961 the plot thickened. Winifred Young was served a cup of tea by her brother one morning, but found its taste so sour she took only one mouthful before she threw it away. While on the train to work an hour later, she began to hallucinate, had to be helped out of the station and was eventually taken to hospital, where doctors came to the conclusion that she had somehow been infected with the rare poison belladonna. She told her father Fred, who developed a theory. His 14-year-old son Graham had been crazy about chemistry for some years, and had even been banned from using chemicals in the house after abortive experiments set fire to furniture in his room. Could the boy have inadvertently contaminated his family's food?
He confronted his son, but Graham blamed Winifred, who he claimed had been using the family's teacups to mix shampoo.
Unconvinced, Fred searched Graham's room, but found nothing incriminating. Nevertheless, he warned his son to be more careful in future when "messing about with those bloody chemicals."
The family had been concerned about Graham for a while. He was just...different, utterly unlike other boys his age. Since the age of 9 or 10, when he started stealing his stepmother Molly's perfume and nail varnish remover to analyze its contents and sniff the vapors, he'd been obsessed with chemistry and poisons. If a member of the family took a headache tablet or some cough medicine, he would take great pleasure in telling them the exact scientific names for all the ingredients, and seemed especially keen on telling them in detail what agonies would befall them if they took a very large dose.
Still, a boy's got to have a hobby, so when Graham scraped through his "11 plus" exams (which determined in those days whether a child would go to a grammar school for more academically minded children, or a "secondary modern" for those of a more practical bent), his father bought him a chemistry set as a reward. He wasn't to know that by this stage of his son's self-education, it was equivalent to giving a Cordon Bleu chef a couple of pots and a beginner's cook book.
With the help of library books, Graham had already gained the expertise of a chemistry post-graduate. Yet his do-it-yourself chemistry experiments seemed to be a touch more extreme than you might expect even from the most inquisitive schoolboy. He had graduated from nail varnish remover to inhaling from a bottle of ether to get high. He carried a bottle of acid around with him which once burnt a hole in his school blazer. On other occasions he would extract gunpowder from fireworks to make small bombs. He blew up his neighbor's wall and a nearby hut, but managed to escape blame for the incidents.
Although Fred Young had never been particularly close to his son, even he couldn't entertain the idea that his own flesh and blood could be deliberately poisoning the family.
If he'd known how his wife's symptoms would suddenly worsen a few months later, he might have had second thoughts.
'The Mad Professor'
Graham Young was born September 7, 1947, to Margaret Young, but his mother had developed pleurisy during pregnancy, and although the child was perfectly healthy, Margaret died of tuberculosis only three months after her son's birth. Her husband Fred, a machine setter, was devastated by her death, and found it difficult to cope with bringing up his daughter Winifred, then aged 8, as well as the new baby. Graham went to live with his Aunt Winnie, who lived nearby, while his sister was taken in by her grandmother. Graham became very close to Winnie and her husband Jack, and hated any separation from them.
Then when he was two and a half Graham's father married again, to Molly, and the family was reunited with their new stepmother in a house on London's busy North Circular Road.
Although we may speculate about the effect these early upheavals may have had on the boy, for reasons that are still fairly unfathomable, Graham Young soon showed signs that he was a very unusual child indeed.
It's perfectly normal for children to idolize certain individuals, be they famous sportsmen or celebrities, or even older friends or family members. But Graham Young chose some unlikely figures as his boyhood role models. He voraciously read books about murderers such as Dr. Crippen, and he would pore over a book called "Sixty Famous Trials," his favorite chapter of which told the story of William Palmer, the Victorian doctor who poisoned his wife and several others with antimony.
As well as these rather unsavory heroes, by the age of 12 the boy would tell anyone who would listen about his admiration for Adolf Hitler, and how the Nazi leader was a much maligned figure. Soon after that he began boasting about his interest in the occult, and claimed to be part of a local coven run by a man he had met in the local library.
He was a solitary child, with few friends. Most of his schoolmates kept their distance, finding him "creepy," and teachers were hardly any keener on him, disturbed by his habit of wearing an old swastika badge to school, at a time when World War II was still all too fresh in the memory for many.
He showed little interest in most school subjects, with the notable exception of chemistry, and particularly toxicology, or the study of poisons, for which he displayed a fascination bordering on obsession. That said, he was mainly self-taught, spending long hours in the library reading books on poisons and forensic science.
Those children who did briefly play with young Graham told of how he would try to get them to sniff ether with him, and also involve them in his occult ceremonies, on one occasion sacrificing a neighborhood cat. In fact around that time several such feline residents of the area went missing, suggesting this was by no means a unique incident.
Although Winifred Young writes in her book "Obsessive Poisoner" that Graham grew to enjoy a close and affectionate relationship with his stepmother, Molly, the boy himself often told classmates how much he hated her. He would show them a small plasticine voodoo doll he had made, full of pins, which he carried around claiming it represented his stepmother. Later he would tell psychiatrists that he often dreamed of how much happier his life might have been if only his real mother had lived. Part of this resentment may have simply been down to the fact that Molly was a strict parent to Graham, and after she confiscated a dead mouse he had poisoned, he drew a picture of a tombstone, on which were written the words "In Hateful Memory of Molly Young, RIP." He then deliberately left it out where she would see it.
Yet Molly Young was not the first subject chosen for Graham's first life-endangering "experiments" with poison. His interest in chemistry had helped him befriend a fellow science enthusiast, a boy named Christopher Williams, who was also a neighbor of the Young family. The pair would often eat their packed lunches together at school, and sometimes swap sandwiches. Before long Williams began to suffer regular bouts of sickness, headaches and painful cramps. His mother didn't know what to think, wondering whether this might simply be a case of childish play-acting. Doctors could only suggest that his symptoms, since they involved headaches and vomiting, were those of severe migraine. The possibility of one of his school friends poisoning him would surely have seemed far-fetched even if it had crossed their minds, since the pair were only 13 and not old enough to obtain poisons.
What they didn't account for was the exceptional cunning of Christopher's new friend. After talking knowledgeably about poisons and convincing two separate local chemists that he was aged 17 and needed them for study, Graham Young had obtained enough antimony, arsenic, digitalis and thallium to kill 300 people.
Still, he was relatively restrained in the doses he gave to Williams, and they even appeared to have a motive in some cases. For instance, on one occasion Williams told Young he was taking a girl they both liked out on a date to a TV show recording that Friday evening. Conveniently for Young, Williams was violently ill that day, and Graham went in his place. Still, even though the pair had once had a playground fight in which Young vowed "I'll kill you for this," Williams never suspected that his friend's obsession with poisons had anything to do with his recurring illness. Besides, Graham did a good impression of concern, and watched his friend's extreme discomfort with great fascination, expressing his sympathies, while also predicting the likely next step his illness would take. With friends like that, who needs enemies?
Other pupils of the John Kelly Secondary School were more wary of the cold, eccentric Young. They nicknamed him "the mad professor," a label that was not intended to be affectionate, but which Young seemed to like. Clive Creager, a friend of William, recalled the macabre drawings Young would show him. "I would be hanging from some gallows over a vat of acid," he told Anthony Holden, author of "The St. Albans Poisoner," "with syringes marked 'poison' sticking into me. He was evil and I was afraid of him."
Mercifully for the likes of Creager and Williams, though, Graham found his school friends ultimately unsatisfactory as human guinea pigs, since he couldn't keep tabs on their symptoms once they were absent from school due to illness. So he reserved his most daring and dangerous experiments for a group of patients whose progress he could observe at closer quarters -- his own family.
Death in the Family
Molly Young's illness got progressively worse during the early months of 1962. She lost weight, suffered excruciating back ache, and her hair began to fall out. She also appeared to age noticeably, and Winifred Young later wrote, "It was as if she was wasting away in front of our eyes."
When Molly Young woke up on Easter Saturday, 1962, however, her symptoms seemed different. Her neck felt stiff, and she had "pins and needles" in her hands and feet. Nevertheless she went out shopping, but returned before lunchtime, while Fred Young was out at the local pub. Her husband came home to find Graham staring out of the kitchen window, watching awestruck as his stepmother writhed in agony in the back garden. She died in hospital later that day.
Molly Young was cremated at Graham's suggestion, after the pathologist concluded that death was due to the prolapse of a bone at the top of her spinal column. This is a known symptom of long-term antimony poisoning, and yet no connection was made. The most popular conclusion among the family was that her injury was connected to a bus crash she had been involved in the previous year when she received a blow to the head. In fact it turned out that the problem with the spinal column was probably not the cause of death. Holden explains that Young changed his choice of poison because after more than a year of being regularly dosed Molly had actually developed a tolerance to antimony. On the evening before she died, he had spiked her evening meal with 20 grains of the colorless, odorless, tasteless "heavy metal" substance thallium. He rather overdid it -- there was enough in there to kill five or six people.
Even after Molly's death, the Young family's mystery illness appeared to be spreading - Graham's uncle John began to vomit copiously after the funeral. Must have been something he ate...such as the pre-spiked mustard pickle provided for the sandwiches, which only he ate.
By this time Young's second major experiment cum murder plot was well under way. And this time the victim was actually his own flesh and blood.
Fred Young had suffered attacks of vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pains now and again throughout Molly's illness, but after her death the symptoms intensified to such a point that he became convinced he was about to die. When he was admitted to hospital Graham frequently visited him, and enthusiastically discussed his condition with doctors, who couldn't work out if it was arsenic or antimony poisoning. The latter was eventually diagnosed, and doctors estimated that one more dose could have killed him. Fred Young later reflected that his bouts of sickness always seemed to happen on a Monday, the day after Graham would accompany him to the local pub on Sundays.
While that thought only struck him after his son's arrest, during his time in hospital Fred told his daughter not to bring Graham to see him any more. If that betrays a suspicion on his part that his son was poisoning the family, the whole family and several of Graham's friends shared those fears, but just as before, the idea that a 14-year-old boy could be coldly attempting to torture and kill his own family seemed too horrendous to even contemplate, let alone voice in public.
It fell to a more emotionally detached figure to finally raise the alarm. Graham's school chemistry teacher, Geoffrey Hughes, had long been uneasy about the increasingly extreme experiments Young was insisting on performing, and one night after school he searched the boy's desk. After finding bottles of poisons, drawings of dying men, and essays about famous poisoners, he contacted the police.
To try and ascertain his mental state, Young was sent for what he thought was a careers interview, wherein the interviewer (in reality a police psychiatrist) appealed to his vanity and persuaded him to talk at length about his expertise with poisons.
The "careers officer" reported his horrified findings, but when the police stepped in Graham denied everything, even when a phial of antimony which he carried around with him (often referring to it as "my little friend"), fell from his shirt pocket. Eventually, though, he broke down and confessed all, finally leading police to his several caches of poisons, stashed in a hedge near his home, and in the same hut across the road which he once blew a hole in with his gunpowder experiments.
"It grew on me like drug habit," he said of his murderous hobby, "except it was not me who was taking the drugs."
Broadmoor's Youngest Inmate
Despite the fact that there was insufficient evidence to try the 14-year-old Young for the murder of his step mother, he was convicted of poisoning his father, sister and friend Chris Williams, and the verdict found there was "a lack of moral sense" at the heart of his personality. These days we might be tempted to label such character traits as "psychopathic." He was sent to Broadmoor maximum security hospital with an order that he was not to be released without the permission of the Home Secretary for 15 years. He would be Broadmoor's youngest inmate since 1885.
While on remand awaiting trial, he was already telling psychiatrists, "I miss my antimony. I miss the power it gives me." Where there's a will, though, there's a way, and within a few weeks of his arrival at Broadmoor, a fellow prisoner named John Berridge had died of cyanide poisoning. This was the same Berridge that Winifred Young says Graham complained about in letters, expressing irritation at his loud snoring in the communal dorms. Nevertheless, the authorities were baffled, as there was no cyanide to be found anywhere in the prison. Young then corrected them, patiently explaining how cyanide could be extracted from laurel bush leaves, of which there were copious amounts in adjoining fields. But his confession was only one of many, as tends to be the case whenever someone dies in a mental institution, so the official verdict was suicide.
On another occasion the staff's coffee was found to contain harpic bleach from the toilets. From then on, staff would joke to inmates, "Unless you behave, I'll let Graham make your coffee."
Meanwhile, Young was still pursuing familiar interests. According to the British crime monthly Murder Casebook, he grew a Hitler moustache and making hundreds of wooden swastikas to wear round his neck. These hardly appear to be the actions of a man anywhere near being cured of whatever mental illness had afflicted his young mind. But Graham Young's doctors were confident that in time he would grow out of these adolescent obsessions.
Their hopes appeared to have been fulfilled by the end of his fifth year inside, as he had become a model prisoner, and was moved into a less strict block with more freedoms. It was suggested to Young that he might one day be able to pursue a university degree if he "got better," which appeared to convince him to go cold turkey on his toxicology addiction.
Despite this, it was later revealed by Broadmoor contemporaries of Young that as late as 1968, nearly six years into his sentence, two whole packets of "sugar soap," a cleanser used to wash down the walls before painting, went missing, and the contents were later found in the communal tea urn. Potentially, no fewer than 97 people could have had their stomachs burnt out, and many might well have died. Clearly Young's desire to convince the authorities of his rehabilitation was soon disregarded once he was presented with such a golden opportunity to poison those around him. In Broadmoor, however, the unwritten rules of prison life applied, which meant the fellow prisoners who discovered what had happened refused to inform on Young to the authorities, but instead meted out their own physical punishment in private.
In June 1970, after nearly eight years in Broadmoor, Dr. Edgar Udwin, the prison psychiatrist, wrote to the home secretary to recommend his release, announcing that Young "is no longer obsessed with poisons, violence and mischief."
Young was thrilled, and Winifred Young tells of a letter he sent her breaking the news of his impending release. "Your friendly neighborhood Frankenstein will soon be at liberty," he joked. One of Young's nurses had cause to question the wisdom of letting this man walk the streets. Not long before his release he told her: "When I get out, I'm going to kill one person for every year I've spent in this place." Incredibly, this apparently sincere comment never reached the ears of the relevant authorities, despite being taken down on file at the time.
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.
The Bovingdon Bug
As it turned out, the new recruit at John Hadland Ltd. had no need to avail himself of the substances available on site. He had already been to London armed with the same fake ID of "M.E. Evans" that he had used as a teenager, and bought a new batch of "antimony potassium tartrate" (the full name by which he insisted on calling it) and thallium from a West End chemist. Within days of starting work at Bovingdon, the new boy happily accepted the job of making tea for his workmates.
The first colleague Young made friends with was 41-year-old Ron Hewitt, who was soon to leave the firm but had stayed on for a few weeks to show the new boy the ropes so he could take over his job.
Two older members of staff, 59-year-old storeroom manager Bob Egle and 60-year-old stock supervisor Fred Biggs, also befriended Young, lending him cigarettes and money for his bus fare. However, after a time Egle began to spend periods off work ill. Around the same time, Ron Hewitt developed diarrhea, sharp stomach pains and a burning sensation in the throat after drinking a cup of tea fetched by Young. The symptoms lasted a few days, but doctors could only suggest food poisoning or gastric flu. When he was well enough to return to work, though, the symptoms promptly returned, invariably after drinking tea. Over the next three weeks he suffered no fewer than twelve bouts of this mysterious illness.
After leaving the company Hewitt had no further symptoms, while Bob Egle also recovered after a holiday. However, the day after returning to work, Egle's fingers went numb, and he couldn't move without agonizing pain. By the time he was taken to hospital, numbness had spread through his body until he was virtually paralyzed, and unable to speak. To the horror of his workmates, he died 10 days later, on July 7, 1971. The cause of death was officially bronchial pneumonia arising from an unusual type of polyneuritis known as the "Guillan-Barre syndrome."
"It's very sad," said Graham to colleagues, "that Bob should have come through the terrors of Dunkirk (a crucial battle of World War Two) only to fall victim to some strange virus." Such was Young's very vocal concern, he was chosen to accompany the firm's managing director to the cremation.
In the weeks following Egle's death, the staff at Bovingdon tried to put the tragic incident behind them. Yet the rather work-shy young storeroom assistant insisted on continually musing about possible medical causes for Bob Egle's bizarre symptoms. Then in September 1971 Fred Biggs also began to suffer the same symptoms. And he wasn't the only one.
Young's fellow storeroom worker Jethro Batt, 39, was made a cup of coffee by Graham one evening, but threw it away complaining it tasted bitter. "What's the matter?" asked Young. "D'you think I'm trying to poison you?" 20 minutes later Batt vomited and felt intense pain in his legs. Fellow staff members Peter Buck and David Tilson also suffered. In the case of Batt and Tilson, their hair fell out, leaving the latter, as doctors described him, "looking like a three-quarter plucked chicken." Young had administered various doses of different poisons among his workmates, designed to confuse doctors looking for a common cause of the complaints. These manifested themselves in a number of unlikely ways. A receptionist, Mrs. Diana Smart, complained of suffering from foul smelling feet for months, while Buck and Tilson were rendered impotent for some weeks after their initial illness. "I was going around with several girls at the time," Tilson later related in court, "and I became useless in bed."
Their ailments were put down to some kind of virus in the local area, which became known as "the Bovingdon Bug." By unfortunate coincidence, a stomach bug had spread among the village children on a couple of occasions in the preceding months. Many workers speculated, just as the residents of Neasden had a decade before, that a contaminated water supply might be the cause. Others suspected radioactivity from experiments in a nearby airfield could be the culprit.
If this was the same virus that had spread among the village's children, it had certainly assumed a virulent new form. After briefly recovering from his first experience of Young's unique approach to coffee-making, Jethro Batt fell ill again, and after a few days he was in such pain he later said he contemplated suicide. He remained in hospital for some weeks.
Fred Biggs' condition was the worst of the new outbreak. His condition deteriorated to the point where his skin began to peel off, and the pain was such that he could not stand the weight of a bed sheet on his body.
Even that was not serious enough for Young's liking, it appears. "'F' (Fred) is responding to treatment," he was later discovered to have written in his diary. "He is being obstinately difficult. If he survives a third week he will live. I am most annoyed."
Young's pessimism was misplaced. On November 19 death finally came to Fred Biggs, as merciful release.
The Germ Carrier
By this time speculation as to what was causing "the Bovingdon bug" had understandably reached fever pitch. Winifred Young writes that Diana Smart even confided in the firm's Managing Director, Godfrey Foster, that she suspected Graham Young was "a germ carrier." Alas, the only suggestion she could make as to how he might have caught such "germs" was that he lived in a boarding house with a Pakistani family.
On the afternoon that Fred Biggs' death was announced, the firm's doctor gathered the staff to a meeting to reassure them that there was no evidence that any lack of hygiene on the company premises could have caused the deaths and illnesses. Yet one man wanted to know more. The doctor was surprised to find himself being grilled by the young store assistant, who asked several detailed questions as to why poisoning by the heavy metal thallium had been ruled out. The doctor was puzzled by his apparent in-depth knowledge of the subject, and told the firm's owner. He in turn informed the police.
It's perhaps not so surprising that doctors took a while to consider thallium poisoning as a cause of the outbreak, because until Graham Young used it, it had never been used as a poison in Britain. Death from gradual thallium poisoning is an agonizing affair, something which Graham Young knew only too well. As well as suffering excruciating stomach pains, violent sickness and diarrhea, patients often lose their hair (as did Batt and Tilson, and Young's stepmother Molly years before) and suffer thickening and scaliness of the skin. Later, degeneration of the nerve fibers sets in, along with weakness of the limbs leading to paralysis, and eventually delirium. The victim usually dies through not being able to breathe. It's almost worse if the sufferer survives, since the body gets rid of the thallium slowly, meaning days or weeks of agony. If the dose is repeated, it has the effect of being an accumulative poison which kills gradually over a week or two. All things considered, it's a long, slow method of murdering someone, of which any sadist would be proud.
Graham Young may not have been a sadist in the conventional sense, but he did take great pleasure in following and noting down every last gruesome symptom each of his victims suffered, recording them each day in exercise books and plotting graphs to analyze their progress.
This almost fetishistic documentation proved his downfall. Once the firm's MD had alerted police, it didn't take detectives long to work out that the illnesses had started shortly after a certain individual had joined the Bovingdon firm. A quick consultation from a couple of forensic scientists revealed the symptoms of the victims were consistent with thallium poisoning. They were also kind enough to finally inform the firm's bosses that Graham Young was a convicted poisoner.
Police immediately searched Graham Young's room in nearby Hemel Hempstead, where they were confronted with walls covered in pictures of Hitler and other Nazi leaders, accompanied by drawings of emaciated figures holding bottles marked "poison," clutching their throats as their hair fell out. They also found bottles, phials and tubes lined along the window sill, and under his bed lay the incriminating diary, with a number of entries following the progress of his "patients."
The day was Saturday, November 21, 1971, and Young was visiting his father Fred and Aunt Winnie in Sheerness, Kent, some eighty miles away. It was 11:30 at night when police knocked on the door, and Fred Young immediately knew what they wanted. He pointed the officers towards his son, and Winnie asked her nephew "Graham, what have you done?" "I don't know what they are talking about, Auntie," he replied. But as he was being led out, Fred Young heard him ask the officers, "Which one are you doing me for?" After they had left, Fred gathered together Graham's birth certificate and every other document relating to his son, and tore them to shreds.
A Picture of Evil
Once in custody, Young admitted to the poisonings under interrogation, and even boasted of committing "the perfect murder" of his stepmother back in 1962, knowing he could still deny everything in court. He laughed mockingly when he was asked for a written statement admitting his guilt.
Yet for all his grotesque arrogance, he soon told police "the charade is over," and was clearly resigned to his fate. That didn't mean, however, that he wouldn't have his day in court. He planned to wring every ounce of notoriety from the case, in pursuit of his ambition to become the most infamous poisoner of all time.
Graham Young's trial took place at St. Albans Crown Court in June 1972. On the defense stand, he eloquently argued the toss with the prosecuting counsel, relishing the ultimate intellectual challenge of escaping justice.
"He was very proud of being the first person to use thallium in a poisoning case in Britain," remembers Peter Goodman, Young's defense lawyer, "For him the whole thing was one big chemistry experiment, and I suppose the trial was an experiment in seeing if he could use his knowledge to argue his way out of it.
"He was clearly a very intelligent fellow," says Susan Nowak, who was in court to report on the trial for The Watford Observer. "but he also came across as incredibly creepy. You didn't want to make eye contact with him because he just had this unnerving aura about him."
Young clearly enjoyed conveying such a chilling impression. When the press asked for a picture of the defendant, he insisted they use one in which he looked particularly cold-eyed and sinister. As it happened, the glowering photograph actually came about by accident. Holden explains that Young was scowling because he thought he had been cheated out of some money by the coin-operated photo booth where the picture was taken.
It's hard to believe that Young seriously held out much hope of being acquitted, but that doesn't account for the supreme arrogance of a man who regarded himself as far more intelligent than virtually everyone he encountered. While awaiting trial he wrote to his cousin Sandra insisting "I stand a good chance of acquittal, for the prosecution case has a number of inherent weaknesses. A strong point in my favor is that I am NOT guilty of the charges."
Young's initial confidence was based on the assumption that the prosecution wouldn't be able to prove beyond doubt that only he could have administered the poisons. Since Bob Egle had been cremated, he assumed proof of thallium poisoning would be impossible, while he had made a point of offering Fred Biggs some thallium grains to help him kill bugs in his garden, knowing he could later claim that Biggs had misused them. As for the diary relating to the victims, he claimed they were figments of his imagination on which he planned to base a novel. Even a confession couldn't stand in his way. Despite having verbally admitted his crimes to police on his initial arrest, he claimed in court that he had simply told police what he thought they wanted to hear, in order to be allowed food and clothing.
He reckoned without advances in forensic science that had been made since 1962 when Molly Young's cremation meant her murder could not be proved. Experts succeeded in finding traces of thallium in Bob Egle's ashes, Fred Biggs" wife confirmed that he never used Young's thallium on his garden, and as for that claim about the diary, once read out in court, the diary entries sounded distinctly non-fictional. Excerpts included the following:
"F (Fred) is now seriously ill. He has developed paralysis and blindness. Even if the blindness is reverse, organic brain disease would render him a husk. From my point of view his death would be a relief. It would remove one more casualty from an already crowded field of battle."
On Diana Smart: "Di irritated me yesterday, so I packed her off home with a dose of illness."
On an unidentified delivery driver: "In a way it seems a shame to condemn such a likeable man to such a horrible end, but I have made my decision."
Luckily for the driver concerned, there wasn't a delivery that week...
His entries also revealed a plan to murder David Tilson in his hospital bed, after Young's initial doses had failed to finish him off. Young intended to visit Tilson and offer him a swig from a hip flask of brandy, which he knew Tilson would probably accept but also not tell the nurses about, since drinking was against hospital rules. Needless to say the patient would have found himself intoxicated in more lethal ways than he expected. Tilson's relatively late admission to hospital, and subsequent month off recuperating, apparently saved his life. He eventually made a full recovery.
Adding all this evidence to the thallium and antimony found in Young's room, and a phial in Young's jacket which he had intended to use as his "exit dose" if he was caught, the prosecution had a strong case. Young had taunted police that they could not convict him without demonstrating a motive, but with such powerful evidence of murder, they didn't need to show a clear motive.
Young was convicted of two murders, two attempted murders, and two counts of administering poison. He was sentenced to four counts of life imprisonment alongside two five-year sentences, and although he had told warders he would break his own neck on the dock railings if convicted, he failed to live up to his promise.
There was still a sensation in the courtroom, however, when Young's background was revealed after the guilty verdict. There were gasps of disbelief when it was announced that Young had done this kind of thing before, and had been released from a secure mental institution mere months previously.
"You looked at the jury," remembers Susan Nowak, "and the blood drained from their faces when they heard about his previous convictions. The verdict had not been a foregone conclusion, and they were probably thinking "what if we'd let this maniac out onto the street?""
How Could They Let This Happen?
The jury at St. Albans crown court added a rider after Young was sentenced, calling for an urgent official review of the UK laws covering the sale of poisons. It was the least they could do considering the circumstances of the case, and the British newspapers wasted no time in expressing their outrage, alongside reports of the case's more salacious details. How, they asked, could a convicted poisoner be freed from a high security prison despite evidence of his continuing obsession with poison and murder, and also still easily obtain poisons, and be recommended for work within easy access of dangerous chemicals, without his employers even being informed of his criminal record and the nature of his convictions?
Within an hour of the verdict, the home secretary, Reginald Maudling, announced that two separate inquiries had been set up into the control, treatment and supervision of mentally ill prisoners. The inquiries led to tightening of the laws on monitoring mentally ill offenders after release.
It's easy to be wise in hindsight. The fact of the matter is that Graham Young was a one-off, an exceptionally rare criminal whose crimes were pretty much unprecedented, if not in terms of method, then certainly in motive, since almost uniquely among poisoners, Young appeared to be driven simply by misguided scientific obsession, married to a total absence of empathy with the rest of humanity.
"I don't think he had any ill will towards the people he killed," says Peter Goodman, "he just had no morals. The reason he poisoned those closest to him was simply because he could closely observe the symptoms. He was a deranged scientist essentially."
Winifred Young wrote that people who said "Imagine if he'd walked into a crowded café!" missed the point about her brother's motivation.
"My answer was 'that would be no good to Graham"...cause in such circumstances Graham would never be able to observe the effect of the poison. The person or persons poisoned would simply get up from the table and walk out, and Graham would never see them again - and that would be no good to him...he wanted to study the effects; to watch how poison worked, as though he were merely carrying out a clinical experiment."
Still, at least some people were served food and drink by Young and survived without any ill effects. Goodman remembers one occasion when he went to see his charge in prison. "He offered me a piece of cake. I hesitated, and he said "Come on, I wouldn't poison my lawyer." That's pretty much what he said to some of his victims, but I ate it anyway..."
A brave man.
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.
"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?"
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."
Ian Brady and Graham Young - A Meeting of Minds
Due to the notoriety of his case, Graham Young lived in constant fear of being poisoned by fellow inmates while in Parkhurst. But one person in whose company he felt relatively safe was the Moors Murderer Ian Brady. In 2001, Brady won a long battle for the right to publish a book 'the Gates Of Janus," in which he offers his insider's view on a number of serial killer cases. One of those chosen for this rare accolade was his old friend Graham Young.
"He sometimes grew a Hitler moustache," remembers Brady, "fastidiously trimming it with a razor until the skin around it was red raw and the prison staff had to stop him."
He tells of playing Chess with Young on a daily basis, with Young favoring the black pieces, "likening their potency to the Nazi SS." Brady claims he always beat him.
The pair bonded over their shared fascination with Nazi Germany.
The bisexual Brady even sounds positively amorous when he describes how Young shared the "boyish good looks" of a mutual idol, Dr. Josef Mengele.
However, he also reports that Young was "genuinely asexual," and suggests that this was another example of him exercising power over 'the herd." "Power and death were his aphrodisiacs," he asserts.
Brady suggests Young was, like him, something of a Nietzschian in outlook, obsessed with proving himself superior to 'the common herd."
Am I a unique individual or simply a common insect? Do I possess the courage to act autonomously, against man and god?
The serial killer unfortunately perceives that the only real way to distance himself from the banality and senility of the herd is to exercise free will of the most extreme kind – by killing others.
Of Young's flamboyant performance in court he writes:
He probably likened himself to Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, routing the allied prosecutors and dominating the proceedings at the Nuremberg trials.
Or could that simply be Brady's warped and rather ludicrous fantasy?
He viewed his destiny in Wagnerian terms and would sit in his miserable, almost bare cell as though it were the Berlin Bunker, listening rapturously to Gotterdammerung, a doomed figure with his grandiose dreams in ruins. When depressed...he had the dejected stoop of Hitler in his final days.
Bear in mind while reading this that Brady would probably find parallels with Hitler and Nazi Germany in an episode of The Waltons.
The Moors Murderer reports that the only music Young liked were Jeff Wayne's "War Of The Worlds" and "Hit The Road Jack" by Ray Charles, and he would amuse himself by reading obituaries of the great and the good in The Times of a morning. He also fantasizes that Young killed himself.
Possibly he commended 'the poisoned chalice" to his own lips, in a final gesture of triumphant contempt.
Or could it have been a final gesture of wanting to kill himself?
He concludes the chapter by pointing out that Graham's "relatively modest use of thallium" was nothing compared to its usage during the first gulf war, in which American forces bombarded the enemy with thallium-tipped shells.
Had Graham lived to see it, this would have brought a cynical smile to his thin pale lips, and a mischievous sparkle to his dark eyes.
Finally, Brady concludes, in all seriousness, "It was difficult not to empathies with Graham Young."
Okay, time for your medication, Mister Brady.