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Patrick MacKay

Crime Files
Patrick MacKay

"A cold psychopathic killer” Dr. Leonard Carr, Home Office psychiatrist, describing Patrick Mackay

Patrick David Mackay is born on 25 September 1952 in Middlesex, England into a chaotic and violent family. Patrick’s father Harold had gone through a traumatic time during WWII and had become an aggressive alcoholic as a result. He takes this out on the young Patrick and his mother, physically abusing them both. He dies from a heart attack when Patrick is ten years old, but continues to have a damaging effect on his son. The little boy doesn’t go to the funeral or see his father’s body and as a result he develops a fantasy that Harold was still alive, always carrying a photo of him. The troubled youth spends his teenage years in and out of mental homes and institutions and it’s observed that he enjoys torturing animals. He kills birds, which he pins to the road and then watches as they are run over and he kills the family tortoise by throwing it on to a bonfire. He also terrifies other school children and throws extreme tantrums and fits of anger. The older he gets the worse he becomes and the more his behaviour deteriorates. He is volatile and if he feels he is being provoked in any way he becomes angry very quickly. He often reacts to events in this extreme way and he is diagnosed as having a psychotic disorder. On one occasion when he is 12-years-old he kicks his sister and mother out of the family home and it isn’t until the police arrive that they are allowed back into the house. He is institutionalised for the first time at the age of 13 for setting fire to a Catholic church.

The Trial

“I could see he was in a frame of mind, he had those killer eyes again…” Ken Tappenden, Former Detective Inspector, Kent PoliceMackay is considered by police to be a suspect in at least a dozen other killings over the previous two years, most victims are elderly women who have been stabbed or strangled during robberies.Eventually Mackay is charged with five murders and on 21 November 1975, he faces judge and jury at the Old Bailey. If he is found to be clinically insane he could be sent to Broadmoor, but only if has a treatable condition. But it is decided that Mackay is suffering from psychopathy, for which there is no treatment. He is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Police believe he may have killed up to 11 people.The newspapers who covered the trial highlighted aspects of Mackay’s crimes in their headlines: ‘The Man Who Enjoyed Killing’, ‘Bloodlust of the Beast in Black’ and in a reference to things to come ‘Life for the Mad Killer Law Let Go’.He is still imprisoned more than 37 years later, and he is reported to be among the 50 or so prisoners in the United Kingdom who have been issued with a whole life tariff and are unlikely ever to be released.

The Investigation

“It was a bizarre and depraved murder.” John Penycate, author of Psychopath: Case of Patrick MackayEven at an early stage in the investigation into the murder of Father Crean, the trail of evidence leads to one man: Patrick Mackay.He had left his name and address at the train station when he had wanted to get back to London; he had asked for a glass of water at a house after leaving the scene of the murder and he had spoken to a local police officer as he walked through the village.Two officers are assigned to hunt down Mackay before he kills again. They have one important lead – Mackay is known to have regular contact with another priest in London.Officers begin contacting priests in the London area and eventually find the man who knows Mackay. He directs them to a hostel near Lewisham, and when they arrive the manager of the hostel is talking on a payphone – to Patrick Mackay. Police search his room and make some alarming discoveries. There are a number of Nazi symbols on the wall – swastikas, pictures of Hitler and Nazi uniforms. Valuable jewellery is hidden under a cushion and police determine that it comes from burglaries committed around Chelsea and Belgravia.Residents of the hostel tell officers that Mackay also sometimes stays with a family in South West London and within 24 hours they have traced them. Unfortunately, in that time Mackay commits another crime.On Saturday night – the day after he kills Father Crean – Mackay targets a retired nurse walking home alone. He follows her back to her flat and he forces his way in. He robs his victim, but fortunately she doesn’t anger him and she remains alive.

The Crimes

“The ferocity of the way he struck him was quite incredible. He must have really used all his strength and he was strong, he was strong at 17.” Ken Tappenden, Former Detective Inspector, Kent PoliceIn early 1974, the map in the police incident room at Scotland Yard is covered with red dots, pinpointing areas in South West London where a mugger has struck, repeatedly targeting old ladies. The perpetrator was Patrick Mackay, and his violence was about to escalate.On 26 Feb 1974, police discover the body of an elderly lady, Isabella Griffiths. The door to her home has been forced open and she has been strangled. She has also been repeatedly struck with a heavy instrument and has lain dead in her Chelsea flat for 12 days. The murderer has placed the body in the kitchen, covered it up, closed her eyes then stabbed her through the chest, pinning her body to the floor. Police find evidence that the murderer has also hung around in the house for a substantial period of time listening to the radio.At this stage police do not realise there is a serial killer at large.On 10 March 1975, a year after the murder of Isabella Griffiths, the body of Adele Price is discovered in a flat on Lowndes Square, in Knightsbridge, London. Again, there are disturbing details to this murder.The murderer has forced his way in to the flat and strangled Mrs Price. He then stays in the flat for several hours after the murder, falling asleep in an armchair with the dead body lying in the kitchen. He is rudely awoken when Mrs Price’s granddaughter calls on the intercom and makes his escape before she lets herself into the flat upon getting no reply.The police realise that the murders of these two elderly ladies are connected but they have no suspects to investigate.In the sleepy village of Shorne in Kent, Father Anthony Crean is preparing for Easter. He is well known in the community and has a strong commitment to helping the homeless. He had extended a helping hand to Patrick Mackay, whom he had met whilst out walking a couple of years before. They had become friends, but on one occasion Mackay had stolen a blank cheque from the Father’s house, forged his signature and obtained £80 in cash over the counter of a local bank.Mackay was caught and ordered to pay the money back to Father Crean. This money is never repaid and leads to another incident on 21 March 1975.Mackay lets himself into Father Crean’s cottage in his absence, and when the Father returns they fight in the hallway of the house. Crean manages to break free and locks himself in the bathroom but Mackay finds and axe and uses it to break through the door. He then stabs the old man repeatedly in a frenzied attack, finally killing him by striking in the head with the axe.Later that evening a nun, who is concerned about the whereabouts of Father Crean, makes a horrific discovery. She finds him, floating in a bath full of bloody water.


25 September 1952 Patrick David Mackay is born1962 Patrick’s abusive father, Harold, dies1967 Mackay is diagnosed as a psychopath by a psychiatrist, Dr. Leonard Carr1973 Mackay steps up his burglary spree in South West London26 Feb 1974 Police discover the body of Isabella Griffiths10 March 1975 The body of Adele Price is discovered.21 March 1975 Father Anthony Crean is murderedMarch 1975 Police focus their efforts on finding Patrick Mackay23 March 1975 Police find Mackay in Stockwell, South London.November 1975 Mackay is sentenced to life imprisonment for murder

The Arrest

The next morning police officers find Mackay in Stockwell, South London. He is placid and compliant because he is hungover. He had spent all the money from the robbery on alcohol.He immediately admits to the murder of Father Crean and says a “white mist” had come over him and he’d done it in a fit of anger. On the journey to the police station at Gravesend he takes police to a garage near Clapham where he says he disposed of the knife he had used in the murder.During police interviews Mackay describes the murder vividly and relives it step-by-step. It is noted that talk of all the blood makes Mackay excited and it jogs his memory of standing for an hour after the murder, watching the body float in the water.Mackay is charged with the murders and held at Brixton Prison awaiting trial.