Broadmoor: 10 notorious patients of high-security psychiatric hospital - from Charles Bronson to Robert Napper

Documentary ‘Inside Broadmoor: Criminally Insane’ will be showing on Channel 5 tonight at 10pm

From Channel 5’s documentary Broadmoor: Serial Killers and High Security to dramatised films such as ‘Bronson’, in which Tom Hardy stars as one of the UK’s most notorious criminals, it is often hard to understand the life and mind of those we watch on TV.

Broadmoor Hospital, founded in 1863, has housed some of the country’s most notorious killers - from Jack the Ripper to the Freddy Krueger Killer.

It was initially named Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, and accommodates up to 240 inpatients ranging from those with severe mental illness to people with multiple personality disorders.

Broadmoor has housed the likes of Charles Salvador - aka Charles Bronson - and Peter Sutcliffe, The Suffolk Strangler

Now Inside Broadmoor: Criminally Insane is set to be aired on Channel 5 tonight (3 March) at 10pm. The 90 minute documentary charts the hospital’s history and examines the diverse treatments applied over more than 150 years.

Here, we take a look at the most prolific patients who have been imprisoned at Broadmoor - from Peter Sutcliffe to Ronnie Kray.

Peter Sutcliffe, Yorkshire Ripper

Peter Sutcliffe was arguably one of the UK’s most notorious serial killers, having been found guilty of murdering 13 women and attempting to murder seven others between 1975 and 1980.

Sutcliffe initially killed women and girls in residential areas but soon began picking up his victims in red light districts, attracted to the ease with which vulnerable sex-workers would get into his car.

His crimes launched one of the biggest manhunts by West Yorkshire Police in British policing history, before he was finally arrested in 1981 after being stopped by police in Sheffield for driving with false registration plates.

Sutcliffe was transferred to West Yorkshire Police, where he admitted to investigators that he had committed the murders. He claimed God had appeared to him and told him to kill prostitutes.

He then pleaded not guilty in court, claiming diminished responsibility, but was found guilty by a majority of jurors.

Sutcliffe was transferred from prison to Broadmoor Hospital in March 1984 after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

In 2010, he appealed his conviction of life behind bars but in 2016 was deemed mentally sane and transferred to HMP Frankland in Durham, where he died of Covid-19 in November 2020.

David Copeland, the London Nail Bomber

Copeland was arrested in May 1999, aged 22, for a series of nail bombings in London on three successive weekends during April of that year.

His acts killed three people - including a pregnant woman - and injured 140 others, four of whom lost limbs.

Copeland grew up in a working-class neighbourhood of London and attracted the nickname ‘Mr Angry’ at high school.

He had joined the British Nationalist Party (BNP) in 1997 and believed he couldn’t get a job when he left school because of the rising immigrant population in the city.

Following his arrest, he was assessed at Broadmoor Hospital, with five psychiatrists diagnosing him with paranoid schizophrenia. He denied that he suffered from the condition.

He told Police during his investigation: "My main intent was to spread fear, resentment and hatred throughout this country; it was to cause a racial war.

"If you've read The Turner Diaries, you know the year 2000 there'll be the uprising and all that, racial violence on the streets.

“My aim was political. It was to cause a racial war in this country. There'd be a backlash from the ethnic minorities, then all the white people will go out and vote BNP.”

He has since been transferred to prison after losing an appeal on his conviction of life in prison in 2011.

The court ruled he would not be fit to leave jail until at least 2049, when he will be 73 years old.

James Kelly, Jack the Ripper

Kelly was never found guilty of being Jack the Ripper, but was sentenced to life in the Broadmoor asylum in 1883 for the murder of his wife.

He had originally been sentenced to death by hanging, but was then assessed by psychiatrists as insane and sentenced to life instead.

In 1888, he escaped the asylum and it is believed by many criminologists that he committed the five murders linked to Jack the Ripper, in Whitechapel, London, that year.

Kelly was never found by police, despite a manhunt. However, in 1927 he turned himself in to Broadmoor - nearly 40 years after escaping - begging staff to take him back. He said: "I am very tired and I want to die with my friends".

He died two years later at the hospital.

Daniel Gonzalez, the Freddy Krueger Killer

Murderer Gonzalez was dubbed the Freddy Krueger killer, as well as the ‘Mummy’s boy killer’, after he went on a two-day killing spree in London and Sussex in 2004.

Gonzalez was inspired by horror films such as A Nightmare of Elm Street to go on a drug-fuelled murder spree, killing four people and attempting to kill an elderly couple.

Following the murders, he wrote letters to himself, referring to himself as ‘Zippy’ and describing the killings as “one of the best things I have done in my life,” while also likening himself to fictional character, Freddy Krueger.

He was arrested after being seen fleeing the house of his last two victims - an elderly couple - naked and covered with blood.

Whilst awaiting trial at Broadmoor Hospital, he tried to bite himself to death by puncturing an artery in his arm. He was considered so violent that he was accompanied everywhere by officers in riot gear.

Gonzalez survived his first attempt but died by suicide in his room in Broadmoor Hospital, on 9 August 2007, by cutting himself with the edges of a broken CD case.

Nicky Reilly, Exeter Bomber

In 2008, at the age of 22, Nicky Reilly - aka Mohamed Saeed-Alim - from Plymouth, attempted to blow up the Exeter branch of the Giraffe restaurant franchise.

He had loaded three glass bottles with explosives but one blew up in the toilet of the restaurant, injuring only himself.

Reilly had Asperger’s syndrome according to his mother, and was bullied and self harmed during his school years.

He was jailed in 2009 for the attacks, and sentenced to at least 18 years before being transferred to Broadmoor.

Police believe he had been radicalised and was encouraged to carry out the attacks by extremists in Pakistan.

His mother said he had begun visiting a mosque after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and was “looking for somewhere to fit in”, adding that he was “vulnerable”.

Reilly was transferred to prison from Broadmoor after attempting to assault staff. In 2016, he was found dead in his cell at the age of 30.

Graham Young, the Teacup Poisoner

Young became known as the Teacup Poisoner and later the St. Albans Poisoner, due to his method of killing victims - including his step mother.

He poisoned his father, stepmother and sister, but none had previously led to fatalities.

However, on Easter Sunday in 1962, aged 15, Young poisoned several members of his family at their home in Middlesex.

His stepmother died, while his father was rushed to hospital and told one more dose of the poison in his tea would have proved deadly.

Young was detained under the Mental Health Act in Broadmoor Hospital and diagnosed with personality disorder and schizophrenia. He was released nine years later.

In 1971, he went on to poison seven more people and kill two more and was sentenced to life to be spent at HMP Parkhurst, where he died of a heart attack in 1990.

Ronnie Kray

Ronnie Kray was a London gangster who was known as one half of the Kray twins, with his twin brother Reggie.

Ronnie was involved in varying degrees of criminality in the East End of London throughout the 1950s and 60s, until his arrest in 1968.

He and his brother were convicted of murder, armed robbery, arson, protection rackets and assaults. The brothers also ran nightclubs in London and mixed with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland.

Following their arrest, Ronnie Kray was considered dangerous and denied all liberties, as well as not being allowed to mix with other prisoners. He was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and certified insane.

In 1979, he was transferred to Broadmoor Hospital and spent 16 years there before he died aged 61 following a heart attack.

Ian Ball

Ball attempted to kidnap Princess Anne in March 1974, ambushing her car as it drove enroute to Buckingham Palace.

Anne was only 23 years old at the time, and Ball was aged 22. He later told the police that “the one good thing coming out of this: you will have to improve on her protection.”

He shot at several people during his attempts to kidnap her, injuring her driver and three other men. His actions led to much tighter security for the immediate royal family.

Ball ordered Anne to get out of the car, to which she responded: “Not bloody likely.”

He was caught when former boxer Ron Russell, punched him in the back of the head. Ball later apologised for scaring the princess but admitted attempted kidnap and attempted murder.

He was deemed mentally unstable and is still living at Broadmoor Hospital.

Charles Bronson

Charles Salvador, better known as Charles Bronson is considered "Britain's most notorious prisoner", having spent time in Broadmoor Hospital, as well as Ashworth and Rampton high security psychiatric wards.

Born Michael Gordon Peterson in 1952, Salvador was initially arrested for armed robbery in 1974 but his sentence was lengthened due to attacking various inmates and prison staff while incarcerated.

In 1987, he was released and began a career in amateur boxing. It was at this time that he changed his name to Charles Bronson, after the american actor by the same name.

In 1988 he was imprisoned again for arranging another armed robbery. While in prison he grew increasingly violent - attacking prisoners and guards, as well as taking some hostage. His sentence was changed to life imprisonment.

He has spent time in all three of England’s high security hospitals, becoming friends with Ronnie Kray and taking up sports as he spent much of his time in solitary confinement or ‘seclusion’.

He has since written various books about his time in prison, once saying "I'm a nice guy, but sometimes I lose all my senses and become nasty. That doesn't make me evil, just confused."

One of his attacks included attempting to strangle child murderer John White. He was stopped just as White was about to die.

At Broadmoor, Bronson attempted to strangle Gordon Robinson to death, but was prevented from doing so by the tearing of the silk tie he was using. He was then transferred from Broadmoor as he could not cope with the mentally ill patients he was surrounded by and it was adding to his violent episodes.

He remains imprisoned at HMP Woodhill, where he expresses himself through paintings and illustrations of prison and psychiatric hospital life; some of his work has been publicly exhibited and won numerous awards.

In 2014, he changed his name again, this time to Charles Salvador, in a mark of respect to Salvador Dalí, one of his favourite artists. He has also launched the Charles Salvador Art Foundation to "help those in positions even less fortunate than his own" to participate in art.”

A former inmate who spent time with Bronson in recent years told the Irish Sun he was “sweet” and spoke highly of him, saying: “Yes he’s done stupid and mad things - and yes he needed to be punished - but the way he’s been treated all the way through is wrong."

Robert Napper, ‘The Plumstead Ripper’

Napper has been convicted of two murders, one manslaughter, two rapes and two attempted rapes.

Robert’s crimes began in October 1989, when he raped a woman in front of her children, in a house near Plumstead Common, London. His mother reported the crime at the time, telling police her son had admitted to raping a woman in the Common. Police failed to link the details.

On 15 July 1992, he raped and stabbed young mother Rachel Nickell 49 times, in front of her two-year-old son. He was found with her body, begging her to wake up.

In November 1993, Napper stabbed 27-year-old Samantha Bisset in her neck and chest, killing her, and then sexually assaulted, smothered and mutilated her four-year-old daughter, Jazmine Jemima Bisset.

He was arrested and convicted of their murders in 1995, and also admitted two rapes and two attempted rapes at this time. Napper was then sent to Broadmoor for indefinite incarceration.

In 2008, advances in DNA testing led to Napper being identified as Nickell’s attacker. He was convicted of manslaughter, after he pleaded diminished responsibility.

He has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and Aspergers syndrome. He is still housed at Broadmoor Hospital.

He is also thought to be the ‘Green Chain Rapist’, referring to an unidentified individual who attacked up to 70 women in connected lanes in a leafy suburb of London, over a four-year period in the early 90s. Two of the 70 attacks were those which he pleaded guilty to in 1995.

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our email newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.