Hannibal Lecter's prototype has been in solitary confinement for 40 years in the UKBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/hannibal-lecters-prototype-has-been-in-solitary-confinement-for-40-years-in-the-uk
Robert Maudsley can hardly be called a serial killer, although he has four victims to his credit. Remaining at large, the maniac dealt with only one person – he committed three other murders already in custody. Maudsley has been serving a life sentence since 1974 and has been in a solitary cell specially equipped for him for about 40 years, where the guards enter in a group, adhering to strict security instructions.
It was the story of Robert Maudsley that inspired Thomas Harris to create a series of books about Dr. Hannibal Lecter. No, the killer from the UK is not an aesthetic psychiatrist and gourmet, but the hero and his prototype have a lot in common and we will try to trace these parallels.
Robert John Maudsley was born on June 26, 1953 in Toxteth, near Liverpool and was the fourth child of Jean Maudsley, who gave birth to eight more after him. Robert's father, George, was a truck driver with a peculiar outlook on family life. He took out all his dissatisfaction with the miserable existence of an alcoholic on his eternally pregnant wife and children, whom he mercilessly beat at every opportunity.
Six-month-old Bob Maudsley was lucky once in his life – his parents gave him and his three older brothers to the Nazareth House orphanage, which was kept at a Catholic monastery. Robert stayed at the orphanage until he was 6 years old and remembers these years as the best in his life – the nuns took care of the child, read books to him and took him for walks.
Perhaps the idyll would have continued further and Maudsley would eventually have become a Catholic priest, but, suddenly, the parents remembered about him and his brothers and took the children home from the monastery orphanage. From that moment on, Robert's life was a living hell. His mother had finally sunk during the years of separation, and his father had turned into a dirty and cheap-booze-soaked animal.
Robert Maudsley with his brother and sisters
George Maudsley's bullying of children was cruel and sophisticated. Later, in conversations with police psychologists, the man told terrible things that are hard to believe. One day Robert's father locked him in a room for 6 months, while the boy's diet consisted only of bread and water. Just like the nightmare, Maudsley recalls the case when a drunken father raped him for breaking a glass.
After a year and a half of child abuse, Jean and George were deprived of parental rights, and their numerous offspring were distributed to shelters in different parts of the UK. Robert was a smart and cute child, so they tried to adopt him more than once. Unfortunately, domestic torture caused great damage to the boy's psyche and he began to stutter and suffer from urinary incontinence. In addition, the child was distinguished by isolation, which greatly irritated the guardians.
Robert was taken to families and returned to the orphanage again until he got tired of it. At the age of 16, young Maudsley escaped from state custody. For life, the fugitive chose London, where, as it seemed to him, it was easy to earn a living, even without having a profession. But after a very short time, the guy realized that no one needed an underage young man without documents and work skills, and in order not to starve to death, Robert began working as a male prostitute.
At first, he took food and clothes from his clients as payment, but soon began offering himself for money. Maudsley understood that his life was going downhill, but he did not know any other options to survive and there was no one to help him. The most terrible thing was that the young man heard voices that ordered him to kill his parents. Even decades later, the killer is sure that if, as a teenager, he had killed his mother and father, as the voices in his head demanded, no one else would have suffered.
The East End is the poorest and most dangerous area of London. It was here that Robert Maudsley lived after escaping from the orphanage
Robert tried to break out of the vicious circle – he turned to psychologists and psychiatrists, but they did not find any deviations in him. The young man also had two unsuccessful suicide attempts, after which he gave up on himself and stopped fighting his mental illness. The final deformation of Maudsley's personality underwent after getting acquainted with drugs, to which he was hooked by a regular customer.
Regular use of narcotic drugs deprived Robert of brakes and this led him to his first murder. The victim of the young man was his client, a simple factory worker John Farrell. He paid with his life for showing Maudsley photos of children raped and beaten by him. Enraged, 20-year-old Robert threw a sheet around the geek's neck and mercilessly strangled John. Just two days later, the murder was solved, and the young killer was arrested.
Here we can trace the first analogy with the story of Hannibal Lecter. In the book "Hannibal", Lecter attempts the brutal murder of millionaire Mason Verger, who boasted to the doctor of violence against minors. Harris's pedophile does not die, but lives out his days as a helpless cripple.
But back to Maudsley. According to British law, a life sentence is imposed for premeditated murder, but after learning about the voices in the guy's head, he was sent to a psychiatric clinic for examination. Doctors carefully studied the young criminal and were surprised to find out that an extreme degree of antisociality is combined in him with a very high level of intelligence. A very young guy, who had only a few classes of the orphanage school behind him, was very well-read, was able to keep up a conversation on various topics and easily solved the most complex logical problems.
Robert Maudsley in prison
This is another similarity with Dr. Hannibal Lecter – the sharp mind, irony, competent speech and love of reading got the hero of Harris's works from Maudsley. The history of criminology is not rich in murderers with such a baggage of personal qualities and Robert became a valuable example for the writer.
Robert Maudsley's examination showed that the young man is insane and needs treatment in a closed psychiatric clinic. Robert was transferred from prison to the specialized Broadmoor clinic and justice forgot about him for a while. The hospital, where the murderer was recognized as a madman, was created specifically for bloodthirsty psychopaths and mentally ill rapists. Broadmoor had the most reliable security in England and the strictest detention regime.
In the hospital, Maudsley received the nickname "Blue", since the details of the murder he committed, including the fact that the victim's corpse had a blue face, had long been trumpeted by journalists. But only 2 years have passed and Robert was affectionately called "Spoon". The history of getting this nickname is monstrous.
Broadmoor Psychiatric Hospital
At Broadmoor, Maudsley became friends with another criminal, David Cheeseman. Together, these guys captured one of the patients undergoing compulsory treatment for pedophilia and barricaded themselves with him in one of the wards. For 9 hours, the clinic staff and the police unsuccessfully tried to negotiate the release of the hostage. When Maudsley and Cheeseman finally surrendered, there was no one to save – the hostage was not only killed, but also competently dismembered with homemade knives. The opened skull of the murdered man was empty and a tablespoon jangled mockingly in place of the brain.
Since only Maudsley's face was smeared with blood, the investigators concluded that it was he who ate the brain of the murdered man. Here it is impossible not to recall Lecter again with his cannibalism and a special love for dishes from the human brain.
After this terrible episode, Maudsley was sent from the hospital to Wakefield Maximum Security prison. This correctional institution was the harshest in the British Isles and the conditions of detention did not contribute to shocking antics. But this did not stop Maudsley and he managed to arrange a bloody orgy in the most guarded building of the prison. First, the killer stabbed prisoner Sally Darwood, who was serving time for a series of rapes. Robert inflicted 12 stab wounds on the victim with a homemade sharpening made from a piece of furniture fittings.
Hiding the body under his bunk, Maudsley began to look for a second victim. It was a certain Billy Roberts, whom the maniac first hit with his homemade knife, and then began to beat his head against the bars. Having turned the victim's skull into porridge, Maudsley went to the officer on duty in the corps, before whom he appeared in a bloody prison uniform from head to toe.
Robert calmly informed the startled security officer that the two prisoners he had killed would not appear for the evening check-up for a good reason. Many believe that the maniac committed the double murder in order to be re-recognized as insane and sent back for treatment.
But the Wakefield massacre did not ease Maudsley's conditions. After the trial, which added a couple more life sentences to Robert, he was locked up in solitary confinement for 5 long years. But it didn't seem enough and a separate cell with a high level of security was created for the monster, which was located in a separate wing of the prison. The object was built personally for the ogre and life in it was full of innovations.
The box is made of concrete and glass, there are no windows facing the street. A high level of noise insulation is also provided – no extraneous sound reaches the prisoner's ear without the knowledge of the jailers. All the furniture in the cell is made of pressed cardboard, and to bring food inside, Maudsley is handcuffed to the bars.
Of course, this is how Harris describes Dr. Lecter's cell in his works, and this is how we see the place of cannibal's imprisonment in films based on the novels of this author.
On rare walks, Maudsley is taken out chained hand and foot, and the promenades themselves take place in another room, measuring 2.5 by 1.2 meters. At this time, 6 heavily armed guards and several video cameras are simultaneously watching the killer. Does it remind you of anything?
To date, Maudsley is ready to set a record for being in solitary confinement. Only Albert Woodfox, who is an absolute world record holder with his 45 years, sat alone with himself more than him. The maniac has little entertainment – he corresponds with his two nephews, reads books and plays games on the PlayStation. The killer does not communicate with the press and all information about his life comes mainly from Robert's nephew.
This is what a man says about his uncle, who, according to him, does not regret anything, but just lives and tries to appreciate the little that he has. Does the prisoner know that he has become the prototype of the most famous maniac in cinema? Yes, Maudsley was informed that Harris used his story in his books. But Robert was completely indifferent to this and showed no interest in either novels or films.