Robert Maudsley has been dubbed Britain’s true ‘Hannibal the Cannibal’ after spending more than 40 years in solitary confinement.
He is one of the longest-serving prisoners in Britain and is housed in a special underground cell at Wakefield Prison known as Monster Mansion. Maudsley, now 67, mur*dered four men, three of whom were fellow inmates, and has been dubbed a “brain eater” and a “cannibal,” despite the fact that there is no evidence he ever ate any of his victims.
However, friends and family have described him as gentle, kind, and intelligent. He is said to have a genius-level IQ and to enjoy poetry, art, and classical music.
Robert John Maudsley was born in Liverpool in 1953, but by the age of six months, he, his two older brothers Kevin and Paul, and sister Brenda had been placed in care at Nazareth House in Crosby, Liverpool, due to their parents’ inability to cope.
The Maudsley children were cared for by nuns at the Roman Catholic-run center for nine years.
Near the end of those nine years, the children’s parents, George and Jean, who were living in Toxteth, Liverpool with their fifth child (they would eventually have seven more), reconnected. The three boys faced a barrage of abuse from their parents.
Looking back on his childhood, Maudsley once said, “All I remember of my childhood is the beatings.”
“Once, I was locked in a room for six months and my father only opened the door four or six times a day to come in and beat me.” He used to hit me with sticks or rods, and he once broke a.22 air rifle over my back.”
Robert – and only Robert – was placed with foster parents within a year of moving in with their parents.
Maudsley fled to London when he was 16 years old. He used drugs and attempted suicide twice.
He spent time in psychiatric facilities and told hospital staff that he heard voices telling him to m*urder his parents. To fund his drug use, the adolescent became a sex worker in the capital.
Maudsley was picked up by laborer John Farrell one night while working as a male prostitute.
Maudsley allegedly garroted Farrell, stabbed him, and hit him over the head with a hammer after he showed him pictures of children he had abused.
Maudsley and another Broadmoor inmate, David Cheeseman, dragged convicted pedophile and fellow prisoner David Francis into a room on their ward in 1977, when he was only 24 years old.
Francis was held hostage by the pair, who barricaded the door and tied him up with flex from a record player.
Maudsley and David Cheeseman tortured Francis for the next nine hours before garroting him.
Geoffrey Wansell explained what happened next in his book Pure Evil.
“They hoisted his body in the air so the staff could see him through the spyhole in the door.”
“Francis’s body was discovered with his head ‘cracked open like a boiled egg’ and a spoon hanging out of it, according to legend.”
“In reality, Maudsley ate no part of his victims’ brains.” Maudsley had made a makeshift weapon by splitting a plastic spoon in half to create a roughly pointed weapon, according to one prison officer who worked with him.
“He then hilled another inmate at the Broadmoor by ramming it into his victim’s ear, penetrating the brain.” Eventually, the plastic spoon blade became covered in gore, which was claimed to be ‘his brains.'”
After a trial, Maudsley was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to Wakefield Prison.
The victim’s autopsy report, it is believed, disproved the brain-eating rumors, but the nicknames that followed – ‘Hannibal the Cannibal’ and ‘Brain Eater’ – have endured.
Maudsley had k*illed twice within weeks of arriving at Wakefield Prison.
On a Saturday morning in 1978, he enticed fellow prisoner Salney Darwood, who was incarcerated for the mu*rder of his wife, into his cell.
Maudsley wrapped a garrote around Darwood’s neck and swung him around, repeatedly slamming his head against the walls.
He hid the body under his bed and reportedly tried unsuccessfully to get other inmates to come to his cell.
Instead, Maudsley went outside and broke into the cell of Bill Roberts, whom he k*illed in minutes with a homemade serrated knife.
Maudsley calmly walked into a prison guard’s office after the two kil*lings, placed the knife on the table, and announced that there would be “two short when it came to the next roll call.”
During his mur*der trial in 1979, the court was told that Maudsley believed his victims were his parents during his violent rages.
According to his lawyers, the ki*llings were the result of pent-up aggression from a childhood of almost constant abuse.
“When I ki*ll,” Maudsley explained, “I think I have my parents in mind.”
“If I had mur*dered my parents in 1970, none of these people would have had to die.” If I had k*illed them, I would have been a free man with no worries in the world.”
He was found guilty of both mur*ders and sentenced to life in prison in Wakefield. However, this was not the case when he was sentenced to life in prison.
Home Secretary Michael Howard later decided that Maudsley should not be released.
Prisoner 467637 has spent 23 hours out of every 24 in his cell since Maudsley announced there would be “two short on the roll call.”
He has been in solitary confinement for over 40 years.
“Prison authorities see me as a problem,” he once wrote. Their solution has been to lock me up and throw away the key, burying me alive in a concrete coffin. “I’ve been left to stagnate, vegetate, and regress…”
Maudsley was given a specially built cell at HMP Wakefield in 1983, where he has remained ever since.
The 5.5m x 4.5m space is effectively a two-roomed cage, complete with bulletproof Perspex windows and a team of prison officers dedicated to his care.
The cell is also said to bear an uncanny resemblance to the one used to house Hannibal Lecter in ‘Silence of the Lambs,’ despite the fact that it was constructed seven years before the film’s release.
A visitor must pass through 17 locked steel doors to get to the unit, and the only furniture is a cardboard table and chair. His toilet and sink are bolted to the floor, and his bed is a concrete slab with a mattress on top.
Albert Woodfox, who was caged in a six-by-nine-foot cell almost continuously for 43 years before being released from a Louisiana jail in 2016, holds the record for the longest time spent in solitary confinement by an inmate.
Permission to die application
In the year 2000, Robert Maudsley applied for permission to take a cyanide pill rather than spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement.
His application to die was heard in Liverpool High Court by Mr. Justice Maurice Kay. It was dismissed after a five-day hearing.
Following the hearing, Maudsley wrote to a newspaper, asking, “What purpose is served by keeping me locked up 23 hours a day?”
“Why bother feeding me and giving me an hour of exercise every day?” Who am I a danger to? As a result of my current treatment and confinement, I believe that the only thing I have to look forward to is psychological breakdown, mental illness, and possibly suicide.
“Why can’t I have a budgie instead of the flies, cockroaches, and spiders I have now?” I promise to enjoy it rather than eat it. Why can’t I have a television in my cell to watch the news and learn about the world? Why can’t I listen to beautiful classical music on music tapes?
“If the Prison Service says no, I request a simple cyanide capsule, which I will gladly accept, and the problem of Robert John Maudsley can be easily and quickly resolved.”
Now is the time for Robert John Maudsley to live his life.
Former cop Paul Harrison interviewed Maudsley and described him as a “clever guy.”
“They’ve done bad things, and 99.9% deserve to be where they are,” he said, “but there are those who make you think.”
“You have the appearance of a monster.
“He was a horrible, evil man.” He has a reputation that has been reinforced by the service. I had all these preconceived notions.
“However, when we were communicating, I could see why he did what he did.”
“If you didn’t know who he was or what he’d done and happened to see him in the bar…he’s a really intelligent, clever guy who made you smile.”
“He’d talk about trivial matters. Many [serial ki*llers] are intense and narcissistic, and they constantly talk about themselves, but I didn’t find him to be that way.
“He’s the only one who made me think, ‘Wow, this isn’t like any other serial ki*ller.'” Maudsley is unique.”
Harrison found himself siding with Maudsley in his repeated requests for his solitary confinement to be lifted.
“He doesn’t want to get out of prison,” the detective added. He’s been in there for far too long.
“His concerns are more about equal treatment with other prisoners and getting some fresh air.”
“However, because he is a special category and a danger to society, he has become a legend.” Even in the criminal justice system.
“He mur*dered two pedophiles.” But I felt genuine sympathy for him. There are people in prison who are far worse than him and get away with far more.
“I went public and wrote to the Home Secretary.” I wrote to the Queen, everyone, and received no response.”
Maudsley’s health is said to have deteriorated in recent years, and there are also rumors that his mental health has deteriorated and he is living out his days in prison, waiting to die.
Maudsley has been the longest-serving British prisoner since the death of Ian Brady in 2017.