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Inside story of UK’s forgotten serial killer Patrick Mackay who confessed to massacring 10 – & could be freed next month

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NICKNAMING himself the Devil’s Disciple, cold-blooded psychopath Patrick Mackay went on a brutal murder spree in the 1970s.
Now, Britain’s forgotten serial killer — who after 47 years behind bars is the UK’s longest serving prisoner — could be set free next month.
Patrick Mackay, who went on a brutal murder spree in the 1970s, could be freed from prison next month7Patrick Mackay, who went on a brutal murder spree in the 1970s, could be freed from prison next monthCredit: MirrorpixMacKay looking manic eating chicken in a photo booth7MacKay looking manic eating chicken in a photo boothCredit: John Lucas/Penandsword/Triangle NewsOne MP believes Patrick Mackay's lack of notoriety is helping his cause to be freed.7One MP believes Patrick Mackay’s lack of notoriety is helping his cause to be freed.Credit: BBCMackay was jailed for a minimum of 20 years in 1975 for three murders, including that of Kent vicar Father Anthony Crean, who he stabbed and bludgeoned to death with an axe before dunking his head in a bath for an hour. He also butchered two elderly women in London.
But as his potential release draws near, one MP believes his lack of notoriety is helping his cause to be freed.
Gareth Johnson said: “The public aren’t aware of Patrick Mackay and they should be, they really should be.”
Mackay initially confessed to eight more murders — including that of a 17-year-old au pair who was stabbed and thrown off a train — before withdrawing his admission. These remain on file.
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Why these other killings remain unsolved is the topic of new Amazon Prime documentary Confessions Of A Psycho Killer.
Available now, the show also asks whether 70-year-old Mackay, thought to be in Leyhill open prison, Gloucs, in preparation for possible release, should ever be allowed to walk free.
Crime writer John Lucas, who wrote a book on the killer’s crimes, says: “Patrick Mackay is what you could call a pure psychopath.
“If he wanted to lose complete control and kill somebody, that’s what he did. He took life with the same kind of impulsiveness that a normal person might use to pick up a bar of chocolate.”

‘Compulsion to kill’
MP Mr Johnson, whose constituency covers Gravesend in Kent, where Mackay grew up, and nearby Shorne, where he murdered Father Crean, added: “He benefits from his anonymity. People don’t know about him. And therefore, it’s an easier job for the parole board to release him without there being a public backlash.”
Mackay was just ten when dad Harold, a violent alcoholic who frequently beat him and mum Marian, died of a heart attack.
The young Mackay took over his mantle, assaulting his mum and sisters so often police were called to the house up to four times a week.
Between the ages of 12 and 22 Mackay was taken from the family home 18 times and put into specialist schools, institutions and prisons.
At 15 he attacked a 12-year-old boy, throttling him and stealing his watch. In his later confessions he said if he had not been pulled away he would have killed him.
At the time, Dartford WPC Amy Tapp, who needed help from four male colleagues to manhandle Mackay into a cell, predicted: “This person will kill.”
He was diagnosed as a psychopath and a psychiatrist concluded he would go on to become a cold-blooded killer.
Yet after four years at Moss Side high security hospital in Merseyside, he was freed in 1972.
In an excerpt from his 60-page confession, taken three years later, he said: “I was classified as a psychopath but without mania. I have always believed I have not just the problem of being a psychopath on its own but with psychopathic mania.
“I believe no one can judge one’s mind better than oneself, since the mind is such a complex machine.”
While he was staying at a hostel in London, he was responsible for a spate of thefts in smart Chelsea and Mayfair, where he befriended wealthy elderly ladies to gain access to their homes.
After offering to carry shopping for 84-year-old Isabella Griffith, he began doing chores for her and became a frequent visitor to her house in the exclusive Cheyne Walk.
But on Valentine’s Day 1974, in his own words, he “grabbed her around the neck” in the kitchen.
“I must have pressed her neck hard with my left hand because she went unconscious,” he added.
He then calmly listened to a news bulletin on the radio and walked upstairs before having “a strong compulsion to kill her outright”.
Using a 12in knife from the kitchen, he stabbed her through the chest, adding that he rammed the weapon so hard, “I felt it embed itself into the floor”.
After the murder he sat in her living room drinking whisky before throwing clothes over his victim’s body and crossing her arms across the chest.
Mackay said he had a strong compulsion' to kill first victim Isabella Griffith7Mackay said he had a strong compulsion’ to kill first victim Isabella GriffithCredit: GettyMackay strangled Adele Price in her bedroom after she invited him into her home for a glass of water7Mackay strangled Adele Price in her bedroom after she invited him into her home for a glass of waterCredit: GettyOn March 10, 1975, elderly Adele Price was targeted after inviting him into her Chelsea home for a glass of water.
Once inside he strangled her in the bedroom, then sat watching TV until he dropped off, only to be woken by the victim’s granddaughter trying to enter the flat.
Eleven days later Mackay went to visit his mum in Gravesend, handing her a chicken he had stolen from a local store and asking her to cook it.
He then walked to the nearby village of Shorne to meet Father Crean, 64. They had previously been friends until falling out over a cheque Mackay stole from the convent.
Mackay attacked the clergyman, beating him in the face before pushing him backwards into a bath.
Getting “a little more excitable”, he pulled a dagger from his coat and plunged it in Father Crean’s neck before stabbing him in the top of the skull with such force he bent the blade.
Finally, he took an axe and struck him several times, before running water into the tub.
He confessed: “I stayed in the bathroom for about an hour. I was just watching him sinking and floating about in the bath and I then walked out of the house and walked round to the back of his house picking up bits and pieces of cinders from the fire, and bits of soil, just mucking about, doodling, in a sense.”
Beaten to death
Arrested in London hours after Father Crean’s body was found by a resident nun, Mackay instantly confessed to the murder and those of Isabella and Adele.
To the surprise of detectives he also confessed to a series of unsolved murders.
They included Heidi Mnilk, a 17-year-old German au pair who, in July 1973, was thrown off a moving train near Catford, South East London, after being repeatedly stabbed, making this his first murder.
He also confessed to killing Mary Hynes in Kentish Town, North West London, in 1973. She died in a similar way to his other elderly victims.
He claimed he killed a homeless man who swore at him by throwing him off a bridge into the Thames in January 1974.
And the same month he strangled said he 57-year-old Stephanie Britton before stabbing her four-year-old grandson Christopher Martin “because he was a witness”, in Kentish Town. No other suspect has ever been considered for this murder.
Shopkeeper Frank Goodman, beaten to death for a packet of cigarettes in June 1974, was next.
DCI Ken Tappenham tells the documentary that police later found significant proof Mackay was telling the truth.
“We found (his) shoes two years later, still with Goodman’s blood under the welt of Mackay’s shoes,” he says.
“We knew it was his shoes. He said where we’d find them.”
Mackay stabbed and bludgeoned vicar Father Anthony Crean to death with an axe7Mackay stabbed and bludgeoned vicar Father Anthony Crean to death with an axeCredit: PAMackay confessed to a series of unsolved murders including 17-year-old Heiddi Mnilk7Mackay confessed to a series of unsolved murders including 17-year-old Heiddi MnilkCredit: Mediadrumimages/JohnLucas/PenandSwordBooksMackay boasted about the murder of 92-year-old Sarah Rodmell in her Hackney flat in East London in December 1974, saying he had put her stockings in her mouth and that “killing her was as easy as washing my socks”.
Finally, he confessed to the murder of 48-year-old cafe owner Ivy Davies in Southend, Essex, in February 1975 when he was a patient at a nearby psychiatric hospital.
She was dragged down the stairs by a ligature around her neck then beaten with a metal tent peg.
Her son, Vic Davies, learned of her death while watching TV in a young offenders institution.
Mackay later retracted his confessions, saying he made them up while in a “fed up and couldn’t care less frame of mind”.
When he threatened to plead not guilty to all but the murders of Father Crean, Isabella Griffith and Adele Price, eight other charges were shelved before his trial.
Former Detective Constable David Crinnion, who was instrumental in taking Mackay’s confession, says: “There’s no point in saying, ‘He’s admitted it’, you’ve still got to prove it. It’s not about the truth when you get to court, it’s about what you can prove.”
But as the possibility of Mackay’s release looms, MP and former criminal lawyer Gareth Johnson says the other crimes should be reconsidered.
He said: “It seemed to us that these other killings hadn’t been properly looked into and there seemed to be too much ease at the way that those matters were left on file just to gather dust for years.”
In November, a planned parole board hearing was suspended and Mackay, who has changed his name to David Groves, was said to be “furious” that the board ordered new reports from psychiatrists, jail staff and probation officers.
Crime historian Nell Darby says: “He’s had 40 odd years to be rehabilitated and we don’t know whether that’s going to have worked, unless he is freed.
“It is like a game of Russian roulette. If you keep him locked up, you’re never going to know.
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“But if he’s freed you might find out the wrong way.”
Heidi Mnilk, 17, July 9, 1973. German au pair stabbed and thrown from a moving train.
Mary Hynes, July 10, 1973. Bludgeoned with a wooden post.
Vagrant, Jan 1974. Thrown into the Thames.
Stephanie Britton, 57, Jan 12, 1974. The gran was strangled.
Christopher Martin, Jan 12, 1974. Stephanie’s grandson, stabbed as he was a witness.
Frank Goodman, 62, June 13, 1974. Shopkeeper battered to death over a packet of cigarettes.
Sarah Rodmell, 92, Dec 23, 1974. Mackay said killing her was “as easy as washing my socks”.
Ivy Davies, 48, Feb 5, 1975. Beaten with a metal pole.

Confessions Of A Psycho Killer is available on Amazon Prime now.

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