Ashworth high security hospital’s most notorious patients

A secure hospital in the suburbs of Merseyside has a chilling reputation which sparks fear and foreboding across the country.

Ashworth Hospital,. around the corner from the family homes and playing fields of Maghull, has been home to some of the country's most notorious killers over the years.

But for many Ashworth will always be synonymous with Ian Brady, the child killer whose name entered into folklore in the 1960s.

Brady and Myra Hindley were convicted of murdering three children in 1966. They later confessed to two further killings.

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Brady, who died without revealing where he buried the body of 12-year-old Keith Bennett, was Ashworth's most infamous inmate.

He died aged 79 at Ashworth on May 15 2017. His body was cremated and his ashes dispersed at sea.

Ashworth Hospital

Ashworth is one of three high security hospitals in the country, and mainly treats patients from across the north west and north Wales.

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It is home to around 228 patients who live in 14 single storey semi-detached wards. Each ward concentrates on a particular type of care where patients with similar conditions live.

The hospital is run by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, and is inspected by the Care Quality Commission. Ashworth received an overall good rating at its mot recent CQC inspection.

Ian Brady

Brady, one of the UK's highest profile prisoners, arrived at Ashworth in 1985 after being declared criminally insane. He spent the rest of his life there.

Brady was a subject of endless fascination for the country's newspapers and his time at Ashworth was well documented.

In 2015 a security guard who had worked at Ashworth was jailed after he smuggled a camera into the hospital and tried to take photographs of Brady.

Alan Hagan, 48, had plotted to sell the pictures to the News of the World.

An Old Bailey jury found Hagan, of Galston Close, guilty of committing misconduct in a public office. He was jailed for 20 months.

Moors Murderer Ian Brady. Photo Handout/PA Wire

Psychiatric nurses spoke to The Guardian newspaper after Brady's death and said that he was an exceptionally difficult patient who refused to be treated.

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One nurse, who asked not be named, told the Guardian that Brady had no interest in being rehabilitated and only wanted a ready supply of "paper and pens".

The nurses also said that the degree of public paranoia surrounding Brady put them under extreme pressure at all times.

When Brady died in 2017 the authorities had to put into a place "Operation Chrome" to ensure the arrangements surrounding the disposal of his body would be secret.

Dale Cregan

The cold blooded murders of PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes shocked the country. Cregan lured them to the scene, gunned the women down and then threw a hand grenade at their bodies.

Cregan was on the run at the time over the murders of gangland rivals Mark Short and his dad David Short. The east Manchester drug dealer received a whole life sentence for the murder spree which claimed four lives.

Cregan was moved to Ashworth in 2015 after being judged to be mentally ill following a psychological assessment.

Killer Dale Cregan who is held at the hospital

Cregan, who had one eye, also became a source of fascination for the press, with endless speculation about his movements and activities at Ashworth.

In 2016 a letter from Cregan to a third party was leaked to the Daily Mirror. The national newspaper reported that Cregan had boasted about making pizza, using the gym and paddling in a kayak.

In the letter he complained that in the kitchen area he was not allowed to use knives due to his history of violence.

The gangster, who was involved in serious organised crime across Greater Manchester, was moved out of Ashworth in March 2018 and returned to the general prison system.

Mark Corner

Corner was detained indefinitely at Ashworth in 2003 for two killings which rocked north Liverpool.

The remains of sex workers Pauline Stephen and Hanane Parry were found in a bin bag dumped in an Everton alleyway.

The discovery sparked a massive police search for the killer, which led to Mark Corner's flat. He was later arrested at his parent's Walton home.

Mark Corner, 26, killed two sex workers and cut up their bodies in the bathroom of his flat in St Domingo Vale, Everton

Corner pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Hanane Parry and Pauline Stephen on the grounds of diminished responsibility at Liverpool Crown Court in October 2003 and sent straight to Ashworth.


Sadly there have been incidents when patients at Ashworth have attacked staff.

In 2018 the ECHO reported on a horrendous incident after a patient at Ashworth attacked seven nurses.

The attack, in the early hours of October 11, came as staff were escorting the man back to Ashworth from Aintree Hospital – where he had been taken for emergency treatment to self-inflicted bite wounds.

An incident report, leaked to the ECHO said: "When transport arrived (the patient) agreed to work with staff and walk to the van.

"As they were in transit to the vehicle he took the opportunity, whilst still single handcuffed, to punch (nurse A) three times in quick succession to the side of the head causing a concussion which was later diagnosed at A&E.

"Staff intervened but (patient) then managed to put a choke hold on (nurse 1) and dropped his full body weight on his neck.

"Staff quickly responded to the new threat and managed to release (patient's) arm from (nurse A's) neck. As his arm was released he purposefully attempted to put his infected wound in (nurse A's) mouth by dragging it across his face.

"This was evidenced by blood around (nurse A's) cheeks and mouth on their return."

General view of Ashworth high-security Hospital

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In response to the incident Mersey Care told the ECHO that they had launched an initiative called 'No Force First' had reduced violence at Ashworth.

Speaking at the time the trust said its staff receive "intensive training to deal with violent or aggressive situations."

In 2017 convicted sex offender Kyle Miller launched an unprovoked attack on a nursing assistant at Ashworth. Miller, a paranoid schizophrenic, hurled a cup of boiling water at the member of staff. Miller then battered the man, leaving him with a broken eye-socket, broken nose and gash to the forehead.

Liverpool Crown court heard that boiling water left the nurse with severe burns. The nurse was left with a suffers from a stammer, flashbacks and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Miller was jailed for six years for the attack.

Judge Menary said he was a dangerous offender and jailed him for six years, with an extended five years on licence.

He was ordered to serve at least two thirds of the sentence – four years – in jail and will only be released if a parole board deems it safe.