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Anthony Hardy: The Camden Ripper

Crime Files
Anthony Hardy: The Camden Ripper

"Hardy claimed he was a 'gregarious, intelligent, well- trusted man' until he was made redundant and divorced in the 1980s" Martin Beckford, Court News UK John Anthony Hardy is born in 1951 in the small town of Burton- upon-Trent in Staffordshire. He has uneventful childhood and excels in school, later studying engineering at Imperial College in London. Hardy marries his university sweetheart, Judith Dwight in 1972 and has four children. The family later moves to Australia. Hardy’s strange behaviour raises concerns about his mental health and he is diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. In 1982, Hardy is arrested for a serious attack against his wife. With an indication of the violence to come, Hardy freezes a bottle of water and clubs his wife around the head with it while she sleeps. Then he drags her to a bath and tries to drown her. They divorce in 1986. For years after, he stalks her and Hardy tells a psychiatrist, he wants to kill her. After the marriage fails, Hardy returns to Britain alone and moves from hostel to hostel, spending periods of time in mental hospitals and using prostitutes. He is arrested again in 1998 when a prostitute accuses him of raping her. The charges are dropped due to lack of evidence. This pattern of evading justice would become a distinguishing feature of Hardy’s horrific crimes. It also raises questions about how a mentally ill man against whom allegations of assault and rape are made, could be allowed to remain at large to kill and kill again.

The Arrest

"Anthony John Hardy has exhibited a degree of depravity in the way he committed these appalling crimes that I personally have never ever come across before." Detective Chief Inspector Ken Bell, Metropolitan Police BBC News Online, 25 November 2003With the discovery of a female torso in his Camden flat, the hunt is on to locate and arrest the prime suspect, 51-year-old drifter, Anthony Hardy. Hardy flees from the scene of his crimes and having established that he has no car, is diabetic and needs regular medication, the police target local hospitals to trap their suspect.Within days this pays off. The case is front page news and the public knows what Hardy looks like. Retired police officer Mike Burrowes, recognises the man the press were calling the Camden Ripper and he calls detectives.Police arrest Hardy in a waiting room at Great Ormond Street hospital and begin questioning him. Hardy was arrested wearing the baseball cap which was found later in the haul of obscene photographs featuring Elizabeth Valad’s corpse.Hardy is taken to Colindale Police station in North London. Lead detective D.S. Alan Bostock asks his suspect about the incriminating photographs found in his flat. He shows Hardy the photo of the naked body of Sally White. “Is that, Mr Hardy, is the dead lady, the corpse which we found in your bedroom?” asks the veteran detective. Hardy replies “no comment”. He replies the same to all the questions the police put to him.He is eventually charged with the murders of both Elizabeth and Bridgette as well as Sally White, the woman whose death had originally been put down to natural causes.

The Crimes

"Further away in another industrial bin, the police found the right arm belonging to Elizabeth Valad, the left arm and left foot also belonging to Valad, and the lower torso of Bridgette MacClennan." Richard Horwell, Prosecutor at Hardy’s murder trial Martin Beckford, Court News UK Anthony Hardy starts 2003 with allegations of assaults and rapes against him; he ends the year as a triple murderer who faces ending his days in prison. In the winter of 2002, a tramp looking for food in rubbish bins in Camden comes across a grim discovery: human body parts. Further searches by the police indicate there are at least two victims. They launch a double murder inquiry. The location is yards from the council estate in North London where Hardy had made his home for the past three years. Neighbour June Gentleman, points the police towards Hardy. “When the police asked me if there was anyone suspicious...the only person I could think of was Mr Hardy”. After years of living in hostels, Hardy’s Camden flat was free from prying eyes and meant he was able to carry out his horrific crimes. Prosecutors at his trial would later say his motive for murder was to take pornographic pictures of his victims after he had indulged in a sado-masochistic sex ritual with them. Piecing together the evidence, it seems that Hardy had butchered the bodies of his victims with an electric saw and dumped the parts in a number of rubbish bags near his home. Evidence was to come closer to home, when police find a square shaped package covered in black bin bags in Hardy’s flat. Inside the bags is a female torso. Unable to find the victim’s head or hands, police are forced to use the serial number of her breast implants to identify the victim as 31-year-old prostitute, Elizabeth Valad. Similarly, 35-year-old Bridgette MacClennan is identified through DNA. The deaths are in keeping with the warnings given by Hardy’s psychiatrist, Dr Ian Collins in 2002: Hardy is a dangerous and violent man – particularly towards women and prostitutes. Police film inside Hardy’s squalid flat revealing the contents and a grim insight into Hardy and his thirst for violence and sex: pornographic films, satanic dubbings on the walls, tools of torture and blood stains. Drag blood mark show how Hardy’s victims were moved from the bathroom to the living room; called the dismemberment room by police. It is here where police found the hacksaw and knives Hardy used in the killings. As is common with some serial killers, Hardy takes souvenirs from his victims; most incriminating were the photographs of the dead women, with their faces obscured and posed by Hardy in obscene and degrading positions. This was not the first time that Hardy had used the level of sadistic violence he that had employed in the killing and dismemberment of Elizabeth and Bridgette. Unbeknownst to the police, Hardy had killed before. Hardy killed Sally White in January 2002. Investigating a neighbour dispute, Sergeant Nick Spinks had visited Hardy at home. In his flat the police discovered the naked corpse of 31-year-old Sally. Like Hardy’s later victims she is a prostitute working in the nearby Kings Cross red light area. In what seems contrary to the physical evidence, and the police’s expectations, the pathologist, Freddy Patel, deems the cause of death as a heart attack. But at his trial almost two years later, Hardy confesses to killing Sally. In August 2012, Freddy Patel is struck off the medical register by the General Medical Council after he is found to be guilty of misconduct by a tribunal. It emerged that he had made errors in a number of cases, including that of Sally White.

The Investigation

"Hardy is a dangerous, devious and manipulative man. He took his victims to his flat where he murdered all three vulnerable women.” Detective Chief Inspector Ken Bell, The Guardian, 26 November 2003Around 1999, Anthony Hardy turns his home into a satanic shrine to death as he brings the same terror to the Camden area of north London as Jack the Ripper had inflicted on the women of London's Whitechapel over 100 years before. A search of the flat uncovers vital evidence which will help to convict Hardy of the three horrific murders.In an attempt to uncover what had happened in the flat, police use a cutting edge forensic system called luminol, a process which reveals blood stains that can’t be seen by the human eye. This uncovers blood stains all over Hardy’s home, including in the bathroom and marks made when he dragged the bodies to the ‘dismemberment room’.Other finds would include the tolls used for dismemberment, pornographic films and masks used to in photos to cover the faces of the dead women.CCTV footage from the local area shows Hardy dumping bin bags near in Plender Street in Camden, on the site where police would later discover human remains. It is at this stage in the investigation that police re-examine the suspicious death of Sally White. With the wealth of forensic evidence, the CCTV and victims identified, the police finally have evidence to charge Hardy with the brutal murders of all three women.

The Trial

“Only you know for sure how your victims met their deaths but the unspeakable indignities to which you subjected the bodies of your last two victims in order to satisfy your depraved and perverted needs are in no doubt”. Mr Justice Keith BBC News Online 25 November 2003Anthony Hardy’s murder trial begins at the Old Bailey in London in November 2003. Having given no information to police while under arrest, Hardy makes a startling confession: he murdered Sally White. He also changes his plea to guilty to the murders of Elizabeth and Bridgette.The court hears from prosecutors and police that Hardy would lure the women to his flat for sex. He then engages in extreme sex with them before strangling them. Through days of harrowing evidence, Hardy is revealed to the jury as a man who is a pornography-obsessed necrophiliac who achieves sexual gratification by posing the nude bodies of his victims after death and taking explicit photos of their naked corpses.The jury delivers a verdict of guilty to all three counts. The judge passes a sentence of life imprisonment. In 2010, Mr Justice Keith rules that Hardy will join an elite group of the country’s most dangerous criminals for whom life means life. He will die in prison.After the trial, The Metropolitan Police confirms that Hardy was also a suspect in three rapes and one indecent assault. In a move that would leave Hardy free to kill repeatedly, it was decided that there was insufficient evidence to charge him at the time.


1951 Hardy is born in Staffordshire1972 He marries Judith Dwight and has four children. The family move to Australia

1982 Hardy is arrested for trying to drown his wife. Charges are later dropped

1986 The marriage breaks down and Hardy returns to London alone

1990’s Hardy moves between hostels

1995 Hardy is sent to a psychiatrist hospital

1998 Hardy is arrested for an assault on a prostitute. The charges are dropped

1999/2000 Hardy moves into a flat in Royal College Street in Camden, north London

Jan 2002 Police are called in to investigate an attack at Hardy’s neighbour flat. They find the body of prostitute Sally White. The pathologist deems the cause of death as natural causes.

March 2002 Hardy is sent to St Luke’s psychiatric hospital in north London after a dispute with a neighbour

Nov 2002 Hardy is released is from hospital when doctors say he is no danger to public.

Dec 2002 The dismembered body parts of Bridgette MacClennan and Elizabeth Valad are discovered

Dec 2002 Police find Elizabeth Valad’s torso in Hardy’s London flat

Jan 2003 Police arrest Hardy at Great Ormond Street hospital in London

Nov 2003 Hardy’s trial begins. He changes his plea to guilty for all three murders24 Nov 2003 Hardy is found guilty on all charges and given a life sentence

May 2010 Mr Justice Keith orders that Hardy will die in prison

August 2012 Freddy Patel, the pathologist who examined the body of Sally White, is struck off by the GMC