Ashworth’s most notorious patients and their chilling crimes

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Nestled in the heart of a Merseyside suburb is a maximum security hospital that is home to some of the UKs' most dangerous criminals.

For many, Ashworth Hospital will always be synonymous with Ian Brady, the child killer responsible for the notorious Moors Murderers who spent over 20 years there until his death in 2017.

The secure hospital caters to patients with psychiatric health needs that require treatment in conditions of high security.

It is one of only three high security psychiatric hospitals in England, alongside Broadmoor in Berkshire and Rampton in Nottinghamshire.

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The hospital, managed by Merseycare, provides a range of services to their patients, many of whom are from the North West, Wales and the Midlands.

Patients who are deemed to be a danger to themselves and those around to them are referred to Ashworth, often through the court system.

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Each of the hospital's 14 wards cares for particular type of patients with a certain set of needs. Each patients receives care from a team of specialist and professionals.

Although many patients are at Ashworth on a long time or indefinite basis, some individuals are there for much shorter stays.

These are some of the most notorious patients to be treated at Ashworth over the years.

Ian Brady

Ian Brady


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

Brady arrived at Ashworth in 1985 after being declared criminally insane. He spent the rest of his life there.

Brady had refused to reveal where he had buried the body of 12-year-old Keith Bennett.

Keith's mum Winnie Johnson died aged 78 in 2012 after a long campaign to try to force Brady to reveal where Keith was buried.

The Daily Mirror reported that the Johnson family had hoped a locked suitcase which Brady kept in his room at Ashworth may reveal where Keith was buried.

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.

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

Dale Cregan murdered four people including two policewomen

Cregan, who murdered two female police officers in a gun and grenade attack, was returned to Ashworth last September.

Police officers Fiona Bone, 32 and Nicola Hughes, 23, died in an ambush after they were lured to a house in Mottram in Longdendale, Tameside, on September 18, 2012.

Cregan received a whole life sentence for the murder spree which claimed four lives.

Cregan was moved out of HMP Full Sutton back to Ashworth last year during a high security operation.

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.

Cregan wrote: "I'm good bro just smashing the gym and playing snooker you know how it goes.

"Been doin' pure circuits on the ward.

"You know you got your a**e kicked at snooker and tennis you had me at the kayaking tho bro (ha ha).

"It's not ideal but it beats sitting on the block miles from home innit bro.

"Gym, phone call and a visit and I'm happy brother."

Cregan was a leading member of an organised crime group rooted in East Manchester which is still active in the area.

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