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I guarded some of Britain’s most notorious prisoners – this is why it is WRONG to keep ‘Hannibal the Cannibal’ Robert Maudsley locked in a glass dungeon


A prison officer who worked at one of Britain’s most notorious jails has revealed why he thinks a serial killer dubbed ‘Hannibal the Cannibal’ should be taken out of solitary confinement

Neil Samworth, who served at HMP Strangeways in Manchester for more than a decade, said Robert Maudsley should be taken out of his glass dungeon.

Maudsley, 70, has been in solitary confinement in a bulletproof glass cell since 1983 after killing three people in prison while serving a life sentence for murder.

The twisted killer is kept in the bulletproof underground box, measuring 18ft by 14ft, for 23 hours a day, in the basement of Wakefield Prison.

He is guarded by four prison officers whenever he leaves his specially-made cell and holds the world record for most consecutive days in solitary.

Mr Samworth, who is now retired after a career ‘surrounded’ by murderers, told MailOnline: ‘I think its wrong the way he has been treated. He is in total isolation and is not fair.’

Robert Maudsley (pictured), 68, is being held in a private underground cell beneath the general population of HMP Wakefield, after killing four men between 1974 and 1978

Robert Maudsley (pictured), 68, is being held in a private underground cell beneath the general population of HMP Wakefield, after killing four men between 1974 and 1978

The retired guard said that it was 'not fair' for the 70-year-old to still be locked up on his own as he is no longer a danger to others. Having killed twice before being jailed initially, Maudsley was put in isolation at HMP Wakefield (above) after killing two of his fellow inmates

The retired guard said that it was ‘not fair’ for the 70-year-old to still be locked up on his own as he is no longer a danger to others. Having killed twice before being jailed initially, Maudsley was put in isolation at HMP Wakefield (above) after killing two of his fellow inmates

He added: ‘I think his crimes are historic now and he represents no real danger to others. It’s a bit like Charlie Bronson. 

‘Yes, he has had lots of fights in the past but he is an old man now.’

The violent prisoner has only been pictured once since his incarceration after being filmed for a documentary on him more than 40 years ago.

Maudsley himself has long urged the prison authorities to move him into better conditions.

In letters more than 20 years ago, he wrote: ‘The prison authorities see me as a problem, and their solution has been to put me into solitary confinement and throw away the key, to bury me alive in a concrete coffin.

‘It does not matter to them whether I am mad or bad. They do not know the answer and they do not care just so long as I am kept out of sight and out of mind.

‘I am left to stagnate, vegetate and to regress; left to confront my solitary head-on with people who have eyes but don’t see and who have ears but don’t hear, who have mouths but don’t speak.

‘My life in solitary is one long period of unbroken depression.’

Maudsley was given the nickname ‘Hannibal the Cannibal’ following false reports that he ate one of his victims’ brains.

In 2022, a Channel 5 documentary revealed that the serial killer had told his nephew he vowed to kill again if he was released.

Maudsley’s two-room cell is constructed from bullet proof Perspex and has compressed cardboard furniture.

The sadistic killer spends 23 hours of each day there, sleeping on a concrete slab and using a toilet and sink which are bolted to the floor.

Maudsley was born in Toxteth, Liverpool in 1953 and was the forth child of a local lorry driver.

But he had an unhappy start to life and was taken into care at a young age with his two brothers and sister after they were found to be victims of ‘parental neglect’.

After several years in care, Maudsley and his siblings went back to live with his parents but there they were beaten severely and suffered ‘physical abuse’, his brother said.

During his last murder trial in 1979, the court heard that during his violent rages Maudsley believed his victims were his parents.

He said: ‘When I kill, I think I have my parents in mind. If I had killed my parents in 1970, none of these people need have died. If I had killed them, then I would be walking around as a free man without a care in the world.’

Maudsley committed his first murder in 1974, at 21, after running away to London to work as a male prostitute as as a 16-year-old.

He brutally murdered paedophile John Farrell in Wood Green, after he showed pictures of children he had sexually abused.

Following the slaying, he handed himself in to police and immediately confessed his crime.

Maudsley was sent to Broadmoor Hospital, home to some of Britain’s most violent criminals after he was deemed unfit to stand trial.   

At Broadmoor he was a ‘model’ prisoner until 1977 when he and fellow prisoner David Cheeseman locked themselves in a cell with child molester David Francis.   

After a gruesome nine-hour torture ordeal, the callous pair dangled Francis’s lifeless body for prison guards to see.

Maudsley, seen as a child, is serving four life sentences in his glass cell which measures 18ft by 14ft

Maudsley, seen as a child, is serving four life sentences in his glass cell which measures 18ft by 14ft

At HMP Wakefield last week, paedophile murderer Roy Whiting, 65, was stabbed by another prisoner

At HMP Wakefield last week, paedophile murderer Roy Whiting, 65, was stabbed by another prisoner

According to one guard, the man was discovered with his head ‘cracked open like a boiled egg’ with a spoon hanging out of it and part of the brain missing.

Maudsley was then sent to HMP Wakefield – nicknamed ‘Monster Mansion’ – after being convicted of manslaughter.   

At HMP Wakefield in 1978 Maudsley strangled and stabbed Salney Darwood, 46, who had been jailed for killing his wife.

He hid Darwood’s body under bed before sneaking into the cell of paedophile Bill Roberts, 56, who had sexually abused a girl aged seven.

He stabbed Roberts, hacked his skull with a makeshift dagger and smashed his head against a wall.

It was only then that the brutal ‘Hannibal’ killer was sentenced to life imprisonment.

In 2000, Maudsley launched a legal bid to the courts requesting to be allowed to die.

He wrote a letter asking: ‘What purpose is served by keeping me locked up 23 hours a day?

‘Why even bother to feed me and to give me one hour’s exercise a day? Who actually am I a risk to?’

In the letter he described that his current treatment and confinement had led him to look forward to a ‘psychological breakdown,’ mental illness and ‘probable suicide’.  

He went on to question why he couldn’t have a pet budgie, promising to love it and ‘not eat it’.

Also questioning why he couldn’t have a television to ‘seen the world’ and educate himself or music tapes.

He ended the letter saying: ‘If the Prison Service says no then I ask for a simple cyanide capsule which I shall willingly take and the problem of Robert John Maudsley can easily and swiftly be resolved.’

Director of the Channel 5 film, Elliot Reed, said: ‘West Yorkshire’s notorious HMP Wakefield Prison is known in the prison system as the Monster Mansion.

‘It’s a dustbin, a warehouse for the worst Category A prisoners.

‘Home to some of the most terrible men in British criminal history, like Roy Whiting, Jeremy Bamber, Charles Bronson, and Robert Maudsley.’

Mr Samworth said that while he had not worked at HMP Wakefield, he had heard of why it was such a difficult environment.

‘In Wakefield there is no segregation so most wings are full of sex offenders, rapists and child killers,’ he said, ‘they are all in there together.

‘An offender from a gang or drug background would ask to be shipped out straight away. The issue would be the longer you stay there, others might think you were a sex offender by association.’

Last week, paedophile murderer Roy Whiting was stabbed by another prisoner, at the ‘Monster Mansion’ jail.

Whiting murdered eight-year-old schoolgirl Sarah Payne who he snatched off the street in July 2000.

The 65-year-old was said to have been left covered in blood after the stabbing – but only suffered minor injuries.

It was just the latest attack on the inmate who has been repeatedly targeted by other prisoners over the years.

However, Mr Samworth suspects it was the result of a petty disagreement, rather than the nature of his conviction.

He said: ‘Whiting has already done a lot of jail and everyone knows what he is in for.

‘The attack could be linked to a petty fall-out in Wakefield. So called prison beefs are rife, and can suddenly blow-up for no apparent reason.

‘Some of the worst offenders are people you have never heard of. In Wakefield Whiting will be no big thing.’ 

Mr Samworth also said that while Whiting’s crimes were shocking, in Wakefield he would be seen as just another convict.

Pictured: Notorious inmate Charles Bronson leaves Woodhill Prison chapel in 2001

Pictured: Notorious inmate Charles Bronson leaves Woodhill Prison chapel in 2001 

Retired prison officer Neil Samworth has revealed why he thinks serial killer Robert Maudsley (pictured) should no longer be kept in solitary confinement

Retired prison officer Neil Samworth has revealed why he thinks serial killer Robert Maudsley (pictured) should no longer be kept in solitary confinement

Whiting (pictured), 65, murdered eight-year-old schoolgirl Sarah Payne who he snatched off the street in July 2000

Whiting (pictured), 65, murdered eight-year-old schoolgirl Sarah Payne who he snatched off the street in July 2000 

The former prison officer suspected that the attack on the child-killer was more likely to be the result of a falling out than anything to do with the reason for his conviction

The former prison officer suspected that the attack on the child-killer was more likely to be the result of a falling out than anything to do with the reason for his conviction

The former prison officer spoke of the vigilante form of justice found in prisons, where retribution was dished out on ‘black eye Fridays‘.

He added those who are in debt might be ordered to carry out violence on their creditor’s behalf.

But, perhaps surprisingly, established criminals – effectively acting as heads of their wings – could be used to keep the peace.

‘There is always a head of a wing,’ Mr Samworth explained, ‘for example at Strangeways we had people like Paul Massey and Paul Doyle from Salford. 

‘You could ask them to have a word with people who were causing issues. You would just ask them to have a quiet word, and use their clout to settle things down.’



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