Beside his parents, the one person who was profoundly affected by news of Haigh being a callous mass murderer was Barbara Stephens, the woman he was supposed to love and marry. She visited him regularly in prison trying to understand what kind of man she had been involved with. Did he intend to kill her, she asked? He never entertained the idea, was the seemingly genuine reply. However, Barbara knew that at some point she may have succumbed to a similar fate when Haigh saw her as an inconvenience.
There appeared to be no remorse on Haigh’s part and he revelled in revealing his grisly escapades which were recounted in the newspapers.
Even although the acid had destroyed a great deal of evidence, not everything had been eliminated. Ghoulish relics such as small bones, dentures, Mr Henderson’s foot and a gall bladder were all discovered, as the forensic team sifted through tons of mud and sludge. Technicians had to wear rubber gloves and cover their arms in Vaseline to protect themselves from the acid. They found the following items.
1. 28 pounds of human body fat
2. 3 faceted gallstones
3. Part of a left foot, not quite eroded
4. 18 fragments of human bone
5. Upper and lower dentures, intact
6. The handle of a red plastic bag
7. A lipstick container
Despite the forensic evidence, it was Haigh’s very own sense of invincibility and arrogance that was to be his greatest undoing in finding him guilty.
Haigh was of the opinion that nothing could be found from his human slaughterhouse and confidently recounted in great detail his escapades of death. As far as he was concerned, it was a case of corpus delicti. No bodies, no crime, no punishment.
On 1 April 1949, EG Robey opened the case for the prosecution before ten Sussex magistrates. Haigh was in a confident mood and even made light banter throughout the proceedings, as if he was unaware of the magnitude of his crimes. If ever there was an illustration of sociopathic tendencies, that is the inability to empathise and recognise human feelings and emotions, Haigh was the perfect embodiment of such dysfunction.
Haigh had during an early confession not only admitted to many of the deaths but also enquired as to what the outcome would be with anyone who was declared insane. It seemed at this stage that Haigh had been mulling over the possibility of appearing mad in order to escape the noose and had most likely invented the stories of nightmarish dreams and claims to be a vampire in order to literally save his neck.
During court proceedings, EG Robey called thirty-three witnesses to prove premeditation of murder for gain. He laid out his case in the form of a basic chronology that showed how rational Haigh's movements were and how they had not been the actions of someone with diminished responsibility.
Haigh was also examined by several doctors and psychologists who were interested in the defendant’s claims to have a need to drink blood. Such a compulsion, if genuine, is part of a sexual deviation and related to the act of violence itself. However, Haigh, who it appeared had little interest in sex, gave no indication that he suffered from such a disorder.
Most of the psychologists agreed that although Haigh suffered from mental health issues he was not ‘insane’ and had been perfectly aware of his murderous actions that had involved meticulous planning. One eminent psychiatrist believed without any doubt that Haigh had a 'paranoid constitution', the same mental disease as Hitler.
Haigh, they believed, had most likely developed a paranoid personality to escape his parents’ suffocating universe, in order to relieve himself from emotional pain. His upbringing had contributed to a mental state where the dividing lines between reality and fantasy had become blurred.
The result was that Haigh had an acute sense of omnipotence and believed he was above the law. He was in effect an ‘egocentric paranoiac’ who, although aware that killing people was against the law, still thought that it was part of fulfilling his destiny.
Haigh tried to impress on the psychiatrists more details of his abnormal dreams and obsession with blood drinking but none of them bought his efforts to portray himself as a lunatic. However, something of which they were not aware was that Haigh had years before developed a friendship with an employee of Sussex psychiatric hospital and had shown a great deal interest in mental illness. He possessed a talent for deception, having over the years also posed as a lawyer, engineer and a doctor.