Skip to main content

HMP Wakefield: Who’s been inside ‘Monster Mansion’? 

Ian Huntley
Ian Huntley | Image Credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

HMP Wakefield has become infamous in the minds of the British public. The prison houses category A prisoners - which means that within its walls are those whose crimes are amongst the most heinous committed and who pose the greatest threat to the public.

Because of the high profile nature of their crimes, many of the inmates behind bars at Wakefield prison are household names, having seared themselves on the public consciousness with the details of their unthinkably awful crimes.

Let’s take a look at some of the most notorious prisoners who’ve spent time in HMP Wakefield - and recall their troubling criminal history.

Ian Watkins

The Welsh rock band Lostprophets were enormously successful throughout the early 2000s. Releasing five albums, touring the USA and Europe and making television appearances with their nu-metal sound, they garnered strong reviews and millions of fans before they disbanded in 2012.

The reasons for the band’s spit unfortunately went far beyond creative differences. It was impossible for the band to continue after lead singer, Ian Watkins, was arrested for sexual offences against minors, infants and animals. His rap sheet is too long (and horrific) to detail here, but suffice to say he was given a long prison sentence with the judge presiding over the case dubbing him as ‘potentially the most dangerous sex offender’ he had encountered.

Watkins was sent to HMP Wakefield and, despite a couple of short transfers elsewhere, he has remained there since 2018. It’s said he has been in further trouble since incarceration, with crimes including the smuggling of a mobile phone and contacting young mothers from his cell.

Robert Maudsley

In his native Liverpool, the mention of Robert Maudsley’s name brings a mixed response. Many express shock and horror at his murders, which continued beyond his being locked up, whilst others tentatively point to an element of honour in his murders - as his modus operandi involved only murdering sex offenders. His targeting of hated criminals makes the public reaction to his reputation somewhat complex.

In the eyes of the law, however, Robert Maudsley is a huge danger to other prisoners. As a result, he has been in solitary confinement for years and is one of the UK’s longest-serving prisoners. Three of his four murders were committed against other inmates whilst he was doing time, which means he has to be kept away from the rest of the prison population.

He was abused as a child, suffering beatings at the hands of his father with his mother only encouraging the abuse. When he was old enough to flee the house, he escaped to London where he worked as a rent boy until a client bragged about his paedophilic record. Maudsley saw red and garroted the man, ultimately finding himself sentenced to life imprisonment for what would turn out to be his first murder.

Of the three prisoners he killed in prison, one earned him huge notoriety when rumours stated he cracked open the victim’s head and ate part of his brain. Eventually, this claim was proven to be false, but Maudsley’s actions saw him condemned to lifelong solitary confinement.

Ian Huntley

The double-murderer Ian Huntley has spent time behind HMP Wakefield’s bars, but he was moved on to HMP Frankland after he was attacked by fellow inmates on several different occasions.

Huntley’s crimes became infamous nationwide when two ten-year old girls - Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman - went missing in the Cambridgeshire town of Soham. Huntley was questioned by police as a matter of procedure and even appeared on television news reports as part of the huge search operation that was underway to find the girls. Huntley had lured both girls into his house after they had left a family barbecue to buy sweets.

He killed both girls and left their bodies in a remote area, ten miles from the murder scene. After he was questioned by police, he returned to where he had left them to remove the distinctive football tops they were wearing, knowing that they would be more easily identified in them.

Ultimately he was caught and sentenced to a minimum of 40 years behind bars and his partner, Maxine Carr, was given three and a half years for assisting an offender. Whilst she was released and now lives under a new identity, Huntley has been transferred from prison to prison.

In Wakefield, he was scalded with boiling water. Later on, at HMP Frankland he had his neck slashed by a fellow inmate and, in 2017, even had a run-in with the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe.

Robert Black

Scottish serial murderer, Robert Black was guilty of kidnapping, raping and murdering four girls - as well as an additional kidnap and sexual assault - between 1981 and 1986. It’s thought, however, that the tally might be far higher as he could have been operating in such a manner since the 1960s.

Before Black was charged, a massive, nationwide manhunt was launched. He was caught in the process of abducting a small girl who turned out to be the daughter of an officer who was on the scene at the arrest. Black started his sentence at HMP Wakefield, in segregation from other prisoners for fear he would be an instant target.

When questioned by police, Black initially refused to confess but, when speaking to renowned sex offender therapist, Ray Wyre, he went into great detail, leaving behind him police tapes that boggle the mind with their brutality and callousness.

While talking to the killer, Wyre uncovered Black’s modus operandi which was developed after years of abusing children. After an unhappy childhood in which he was bullied and sexually abused, a pathology formed in his mind that included a fascination with female genitalia. This rapidly developed into a secretive pattern of molestation which escalated into kidnap and brutal murder.

Black died in 2016 from a heart attack while serving time in HMP Maghaberry.