BEING locked in an underground perspex box, measuring 18ft by 14ft, for 23 hours a day is most people’s idea of a living nightmare.
But to serial killer Robert Maudsley – who tortured and murdered four men including three fellow inmates – the solitary confinement cell at Wakefield prison, where he has spent the last 40 years, is now his “safe space”.
Robert Maudsley has been in solitary confinement for almost 40 years
Wakefield is dubbed Monster Mansion and is the UK’s most secure prisonCredit: Good TV
Speaking to the Channel 5 documentary Wakefield: Evil Behind Bars, which airs tonight, Maudsley’s nephew Gavin says his uncle has accepted he will die in prison and that he has done “terrible things”.
“Wakefield used to be his hell but now he’s settled down and he’s comfortable,” says Gavin.
“It sounds crazy but solitary confinement in Wakefield prison is his safe space. He told me in a letter that given the chance he would kill again, and I believe that.”
Gavin had no idea his uncle was the notorious killer dubbed Hannibal the Cannibal – after it was wrongly believed he ate a victim’s brains with a spoon – until secondary school, but now regularly visits him in jail, taking banana milk and chocolate bars.
He also reveals that the once stark glass cell, where Maudsley is guarded by his own team of prison officers, has more creature comforts and he is “being treated like a human being”.
“He watches his TV, he listens to music on his music system, he’s got a Playstation 2, so he plays his video games,” he says. “He goes to bed at 10pm.
“On visits we get him his banana milk and several chocolate bars and normally a sausage roll. He’ll bring a flask of hot water with him and some tea bags and make us a cup of tea.”
The fascinating documentary unveils the secrets of the top security jail, dubbed Monster Mansion, which houses Britain’s most heinous criminals including Sara Payne’s killer Roy Whiting, Millie Dowler’s murderer Levi Bellfield and Jeremy Bamber, who butchered five members of his family at White House Farm, in Essex, in 1985.
Former prison officers and inmates give a compelling insight into the daily lives of the UK’s most dangerous men in the solitary confinement F-wing, where bare cells have nothing but a bed and a cardboard table and chairs.
Photographer George Bamby reveals he visited violent criminal Charles Bronson at the prison after a surprise invitation – only to be told the infamous inmate was his real dad.
Bronson – initially jailed for just seven years in 1974 – has been inside for almost 50 years after a series of rooftop protests and attacks on prison staff and inmates, but George is now campaigning to have his supposed dad released on parole.
“He’s not a problem to anyone,” he says. “He doesn’t cause any problems for the staff. He gets on with his artwork, he eats his dinner, he goes out every day for an hour to do his press ups and sit ups.
“He’s rehabilitated himself. The question is, why is Charles Bronson still in prison?”
Brutal murder of sex offenders ‘revenge for teen attack’
Robert Maudsley, originally from Liverpool, was a teenage sex worker in London when he killed John Farrell by garrotting him in 1974.
He immediately handed himself into police and was sent to Broadmoor, where he kidnapped and murdered another inmate, but Gavin claims the cause of his uncle’s murderous rage stemmed from a traumatic experience.
“The story I heard from my uncle was that he was abducted by a gang of paedophiles when he came to London and they sexually abused him,” he says.
“He vowed to hunt these guys down and take revenge and luckily for them he only managed to get one of them, because he would have killed all of them.”
At Broadmoor – a secure hospital – his hatred of child abusers led him to strike again, barricading himself in a cell with a sex offender for nine hours before killing him .
“Terrible things happened in that room during those nine hours,” says Gavin.
“This guy was tortured and they found a spoon hanging out of his head – and that’s where they said my uncle is a cannibal and where Hannibal Maudsley comes from.”
In fact, the cannibal rumours are unfounded but the brutal murder led to Maudsley’s transfer to Wakefield.
“They put him in a wing surrounded by rapists and paedophiles so he wakes up one morning and decides he was going to kill as many rapists and paedophiles as he can get his hands on – but he only managed to get his hands on two,” says Gavin.
He wakes up one morning and decides he was going to kill as many rapists and paedophiles as he can get his hands on
Maudsley murdered wife killer Salney Darwood and paedophile William Roberts, convicted of abusing a seven-year-old girl, in one morning in 1978.
Soon after he was moved to the custom-made perspex box – thought to have inspired Hannibal Lecter’s glass case in Silence of the Lambs.
“For many years he was persecuted by the guards and they gave him a really rough time,” says Gavin.
Stripped naked and soaked with cold water
Former inmate Mark – who was in a cell next to Maudsley in solitary confinement, before he was moved underground – says his treatment is “dehumanising”.
“To hold someone in an underground cage for over 40 years is unforgivable,” he says.
“What Bob did – murdering sex offenders – was obviously wrong but what the system has done to Bob is equally as bad. It is psychological torture.”
Bronson and former prisoner Mark both describe the conditions in Wakefield’s solitary confinement in stark detail.
“When you first went into the cages, it was cold in there, dark, gloomy,” says Bronson in a telephone call from the prison.
“There are four sets of bars on the windows, stopping air coming through, a cage outside the window, a cage on the door, cardboard furniture, cardboard table and chair, a p*** pot, jug of water. If you got a library book, you were lucky.”
Mark, jailed for 40 years for armed robbery, says he was considered one of the most unmanageable prisoners in the system.
“I was placed into an underground cage, with no natural light whatsoever,” he says. “We were fed through the bars of our cage. We were unlocked for one hour a day, and taken to a tiny exercise yard where we were surrounded by six members of staff.
“There was a silence rule so we couldn’t talk to those around you. It was an inhuman environment.
“There was an incredible degree of bullying and intimidation and the staff thrived on it. Some prisoners were taken to a strong box, which was a cell within a cell, with nothing in it, a concrete box.
“We’d be thrown in there naked, and each day the staff would open the door and hurl a bucket of cold water over us and found it incredibly amusing.”
Mark recalls getting Maudsley involved in a dirty protest – stripping naked and smearing their body with excrement so that prison officers don’t want to tackle them.
“It almost becomes empowerment to use your body waste to make life as unpleasant as possible for the prison officer,” he says.
“It becomes a weapon and it’s the only one you have, your own body waste.
“Robert hadn’t been involved in any protest up until I arrived and it had a positive effect on his personality. He felt part of a human group, he was no longer isolated.
“Then they brought in the riot squads and every one of us was transferred to other prisons overnight.”
F Wing is the solitary confinement wingCredit: Good TV
Inside a cell in Monster MansionCredit: Good TV
Bronson ‘spat in my sandwich to prove I’m his son’
George Bamby reveals how he got a surprise request from Bronson in 2017 after appearing in a TV show, Confessions of a Paparazzi – and agreed to visit him in prison.
“As I got to the F-wing, I walked in and there’s a wall in front of me, a hole in the middle with loads of bars in it,” he says.
“I’ve looked through the bars and there’s a bloke inside who went ‘Alright son, nice to meet you. I’m Charlie.’
“We kept talking, joking and got on really well and before I left the first visit he opened half a sandwich I had with me and spat inside the sandwich and closed it.
“Then he took a bit of hair from his ‘tache, put it in a handkerchief, put it on top of the sandwich and said ‘take that with you.’”
When he got home, George claims Bronson called him and told him to get the hair and saliva tested to find out if he was his long-lost son. He says the test came back as a 99.8 match, although some friends of Bronson have questioned his claims.
George now says Bronson – who has changed his surname to Salvador as a tribute to Spanish artist Dali – is a reformed man after taking up poetry and art.
In a call from the prison, Bronson reveals he was sent to Wakefield after kidnapping Hull governor Adrian Wallace, in 1994.
“I arrived at the monster mansion with a broken jaw, a couple of broken fingers, two back eyes, a dislocated nose. I’m in a terrible mess. So they slung me in a cage and a couple of days later (prison officer) Mick O’Hagan came to my door,” he says.
“He told me ‘They’ll never free you. Why don’t you do something positive, creative?”
The next day Mick gave him a sketch pad and coloured pencils and Bronson began to produce impressive artwork.
He now has 11 published books and has won awards for his art and poetry, and jokes: “When I got locked up in 1974, it was for a pump action shotgun, sawn off, now I’ve got a sawn off paintbrush.”
When I got locked up in 1974, it was for a pump action shotgun, sawn off, now I’ve got a sawn off paintbrush
Bronson has been refused parole several times but George believes he will soon be released – after winning a legal battle to have his hearing in public.
“We took on the judicial system to get Charlie in front of a judge, not three people from the parole board. As soon as they hear his name they say ‘decline, decline, decline,” he says.
“I think Charlie now has the best possible chance of being released.
“When he gets out all he wants to do is find a nice little cottage in Devon, near us. He just wants to do his artwork. He’s going to get two dogs called Ron and Reg after his two mates in prison (the Kray twins) and we’re going straight to the nearest cafe and having the biggest fry-up we possibly can.”
HMP Wakefield: Evil Behind Bars airs tonight at 9pm on Channel 5. Also stream on My5.
Charles Bronson with George, who claims to be long lost sonCredit: Good TV
Bronson’s award winning artwork takes up his timeCredit: Rex Features
Jeremy Bamber is among the prison’s notorious inmates