Maureen Hindley

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Maureen Hindley with her first husband David Smith in 1966.
Maureen Hindley with her first husband David Smith in 1966.

Maureen Hindley (21 August 1946-1980) (married names were Maureen Smith and Maureen Scott) was the younger sister of the Moors murderess, Myra Hindley, and the wife of murder witness, David Smith. She was born and raised in the working-class neighborhood of Gorton in Greater Manchester. As a child, she lived in a small two-up, two-down semi-detached house with her mother, Nellie Hindley, while her older sister Myra lived in the next house over with their grandmother, Ellen Maybury.


[edit] The first months of marriage to David Smith

As a teenager, Maureen developed into something of a wild child, and her behavior became a cause of concern for her family when she began hanging about with rough boys of less-than-respectable origins. She also started taking after her older sister by wearing heavy eye makeup and tight pencil skirts and having her hair done up in a beehive or with fringed bangs. The Hindleys did not approve of Maureen's relationship with 16-year-old David Smith and did not attend to the scandal of the teenage couple's shotgun wedding on 15 August 1964. Smith, who was the product of a broken home, had a reputation in Gorton as a hardcase and ne'er-do-well, having acquired several convictions for assault and petty theft in the local juvenile courts. Smith lived near the Hindleys with his father Jack.

Although Myra disliked Smith, regarding him as rough and common, her steady boyfriend, Ian Brady, eventually took a shine to him. (Some writers have speculated that Brady's growing interest in Smith may have been sexual in nature.) Ian and Myra soon invited the Smiths to accompany them on picnics and outings to Saddleworth Moor. The four of them also began spending long evenings socializing at Myra's house at 16 Wardle Brook Avenue in Hattersley, where she had moved shortly after David and Maureen's wedding. Brady felt that he had found a kindred spirit in David Smith, the troubled teenager with a penchant for brawling and street-fighting. He also began lending Smith books to read on his two main subjects of interest: torture and murder.

Like Myra before him, David Smith was flattered by the attention of the older, and apparently more sophisticated and intellectual, Brady. He and Brady often spent many nights talking and drinking together, much to Myra's annoyance and resentment. Brady would show off his gun collection and, after a few drinks, openly boasted to Smith about having murdered several young children and burying their bodies on the moors, although Smith didn't believe Brady about this. Brady would also subject his young friend to a kind of intellectual catechism about the contents of the books he had lent him.

A year into their marriage, the Smiths were suffering major financial problems. David had difficulty maintaining a job and had recently been served with an eviction notice on the modest flat he shared with Maureen, who by this time had just become pregnant with their second child (their first, a girl they named Angela Dawn, died of SIDS at six months old in April 1965). These mounting pressures and upsets had put a strain on the marriage and led to many violent late-night rows between the couple, which often attracted the attention of worried neighbours.

[edit] The murder of Edward Evans

On the evening of October 6, 1965 Myra showed up at David Smith's flat at Underwood Court and asked him to accompany her back to 16 Wardle Brook Avenue. A day or two earlier, Brady had proposed to help alleviate Smith's financial problems by making a night-time excursion to the city center to rob a homosexual ("rolling a queer" was how Brady put it). Myra had come calling on Smith on the pretext that Ian had some miniature wine bottles back at their house which he wanted to give him. A few minutes after Smith arrived at the house to pick up the miniatures, he heard a scream from the living room. Myra then shouted to Smith, "Dave, help him!", indicating that he should rush to assist Brady. When Smith entered the living room, he found the walls covered in blood as Brady bludgeoned a 17-year-old boy, Edward Evans, with the blunt edge of an hatchet. After expending his fury with the axe, Brady finished Evans off by strangling him with a length of electrical cord.

Stunned and terrified, Smith struggled to keep his composure and helped Brady carry Evans' body upstairs to be wrapped in a polythene bag trussed with rope and stored for disposal on the moors the next day. Brady and Smith then returned downstairs to help Myra clean up the blood and brain matter covering the walls and floor of the living room. When the room was spotless, Brady told Smith to meet him the following afternoon and to bring the baby pram that had once carried young Angela Dawn around. Brady told Smith that they could use the pram to carry Evans' body to Myra's minivan. Smith agreed and quickly left the house at about three o'clock in the morning after Brady changed out of his blood-soaked clothes and Myra made tea.

Afraid that Brady might be following him, Smith ran all the way back to his flat in a panic and woke his sleeping wife. Pale and shaken, he began vomiting in the toilet and later told her of what he had just witnessed back at her sister's house. Maureen burst into tears and the two of them agreed that the only thing to do was to call the police.

Three hours later, at about six o'clock that morning, David and Maureen carefully made their way to a red telephone box on the street below. Smith took the precaution of arming himself with a screwdriver and carving knife in the event that the two of them ran into Brady. Smith made a 999 call to the nearby Hyde police station and related the night's events to the officer on duty.

David Smith's phone call to police on October 7, 1965 led to Brady's arrest by Police Superintendent Bob Talbot later that same morning. After a thorough search of 16 Wardle Brook Avenue more evidence soon came to light, particularly a Manchester central railway left-luggage ticket found in the spine of Myra's prayer book. The ticket led to the discovery of two large suitcases which were packed solid with highly incriminating notes, photographs and reel-to-reel audiotapes containing the lurid details of other murders the pair had committed. Four days following Brady's arrest, Myra Hindley was also charged with murder and taken into custody.

[edit] The trial of the Moors murderers and its aftermath

The News of the World from 1966, featuring a lead story about the Moors case with a photo of Maureen and David Smith.
The News of the World from 1966, featuring a lead story about the Moors case with a photo of Maureen and David Smith.

After weeks of intense investigation and rigorous questioning of all known witnesses as well as the two suspects themselves, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were tried in April 1966 for the unlawful killing of Edward Evans, as well as two other murders: those of 12-year-old John Kilbride and 10-year-old Lesley Ann Downey. The bodies of Kilbride and Downey had been recovered from the moors in late October 1965 after police thoroughly examined photographs taken by Brady that were later revealed to be burial sites. At the trial, David Smith testified as a principal witness for the prosecution as did Maureen. While on remand, Brady and Hindley exchanged a message in code which read "Smith will die and Maureen too".

After a two-week trial, Brady and Hindley were convicted of all three murders (although Hindley was only convicted of being an accessory in the case of Kilbride) at Chester Assizes Crown Court on May 6, 1966. Upon hearing the verdict, the judge presiding over the case, Mr. Justice Fenton Atkinson, sentenced the two of them to life in prison. In November 1986, Brady and Hindley finally confessed to the murders of 16-year-old Pauline Reade. They also agreed to help police search for the bodies, and on 1 July 1987 a search team uncovered Pauline Reade's body with Hindley's assistance. The search continued for Keith Bennett's body, but despite the two killers' descriptions of a burial site and an extensive charting of the disturbed soil around Saddleworth, the murdered child's remains have never been found.

In the months and years that immediately followed the sensational murder trial, financial troubles and the stigma at being connected to the Moors murderers aggravated tensions in the Smiths' marriage. After David Smith was imprisoned for stabbing a man in a pub brawl (an incident provoked by Smith's involvement with Brady and the Hindley sisters), he and Maureen divorced in 1969. Since she was not in a fit mental state to provide for their children as a single mother, she put them into foster care.

Over the years, Maureen had been suffering guilt and anguish at having alienated the affections of her mother, Nellie, as a consequence of reporting Myra to the police and testifying against her at trial. She also bore the burden of having made local pariahs of her family — the day after her sister had been convicted, she was assaulted in the elevator of her apartment building while eight months pregnant. She later received threatening letters from various persons and her home was vandalized several times. Maureen visited Myra only a few times during the years of her incarceration at Holloway Prison (1966-1977) and later at Durham Jail. In a 1977 television interview, Maureen told the questioner that she believed her sister was now a reformed character and blamed Myra's involvement in the murders on the influence of Ian Brady.

[edit] Maureen's later years

Later in life, Maureen did enjoy a few years of relative happiness with her second husband, a kindly, generous older man from London named Bill Scott, by whom she bore a daughter, Sharon. She died in 1980, aged just 34, after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

But even in death, Maureen Hindley could not escape the shadow of her sister's crimes. Her funeral service was interrupted by the father of Moors victim John Kilbride, who arrived at the scene with knife in hand. As eulogies were being read, Mr. Kilbride suddenly lashed out at a blonde woman present, wrongly believing that she was Myra Hindley. Mr. Kilbride was quickly restrained and led away.

[edit] David Smith today

David Smith now lives in the Republic of Ireland with his second wife, Mary, and their daughter. He runs a bed and breakfast hotel. He also has three sons from his marriage to Maureen Hindley. Smith is still haunted by the memory of his time with Myra Hindley and Ian Brady, and of the night he witnessed the murder of Edward Evans.

[edit] Television film

In May 2006, ITV screened a two-part drama series, See No Evil: The Moors Murders, that told the true story of Ian Brady, Myra Hindley, Maureen Hindley, and David Smith, and demonstrated the impact of the Moors murders on the victims' families and on the city of Manchester as a whole. The facts of the Moors case were presented from the point of view of Maureen, who was portrayed sympathetically by actress Joanne Froggatt.

[edit] References and further reading

  • Ritchie, Jean (1991). Myra Hindley: Inside the Mind of a Murderess, paperback, Paladin. ISBN 0-586-21563-8. 
  • Goodman, Jonathan (1986). The Moors Murders: The Trial of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady. David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-9064-3.