CHRISTINE MILLER tells us about six most horrific British cannibal killers…
Cannibalism is the ultimate taboo.
But for a very small few, the act comes quite naturally. While some of the tales below are (hopefully) little more than gory fictional legends, others are very real and the collection makes for an unsettling walkthrough of Britain’s six most disgusting cannibal killers.
For this reason, reader discretion is advised!
Undoubtedly one of the most infamous cannibals ever is Alexander “Sawney” Bean. His story dates back to the 16th century and covers some 25 years – during this time Sawney and his 40-plus family members murdered and chomped on up to 1,000 victims.
Legend has it that Sawney and his spouse made their home in Bennane Cave, by Ballantrae in Ayrshire, Scotland. Being somewhat reluctant to pursue more conventional careers, the couple would only trouble themselves to leave their lair to murder lonely travellers, robbing them of their possessions.
Sawney decided that in order to not be suspected of these crimes he must dispose of the bodies in an ingenious way: he decided that the best course of action was to butcher the bodies and consume them.
The high protein diet worked wonders for the couple – so much so that over the years they were blessed with no less than 14 mini Beans, who in turn (through incest) multiplied at an exponential rate. Two decades on and there was an army of family members who could easily and swiftly dispatch up to six victims at a time. The bodies would be salted and pickled to preserve the flesh for future dinners, but soon enough surplus body parts began to wash up on local beaches, resulting in mass searches by locals to find the culprits.
The family’s fortunes began to unravel when they were caught by a large number of witnesses murdering a woman, and attempting to murder her husband. Upon being discovered the clan quickly fled back to their cave, but the next day King James VI accompanied by an army and an array of sniffer dogs arrived in town, where the dogs were able to pick up on a scent trail of decaying flesh at the entrance to the caves. The men entered the deep caves and what they found utterly terrified them; hanging on every inch of the cave walls were dozens upon dozens of body parts.
The entire clan was marched to Edinburgh where they each received the death penalty – the males had their limbs cut off and were left to bleed to death which the females watched, before themselves being burned at the stake.
Historians largely, and thankfully, dismiss the unsavoury tale of Sawney Bean as merely fiction.
There are those who believe that, although Sawney Bean is a fictitious tale, it may indeed be based on the real-life story of Andrew Christie ‘Cleek’.
Christie, a butcher from Perth, Scotland, lived during the 14th century. When famine hit, he joined a group of scavengers who were desperate for any means to survive. When one of the group perished, Christie expertly used his butchery background to dissect the body and serve a meal out of it for himself and the remaining number.
Far from disliking the grub, the group developed a great love for the taste of human flesh, and with Christie as their leader, the group lurked throughout the countryside for human victims to devour: lonely travellers, and their horses, were routinely served up to the group.
One day a group of armed lawmen discovered the group, who by now had murdered and consumed at least 30 people, including women. Most of the cannibalistic group were killed in the ensuing fight, but Christie managed to escape.
He was never found.
However, on his deathbed, a merchant named David Maxwell living in Dumfries claimed that he was indeed Christie-Cleek; whether he was telling the truth or not, we will never know for sure.
James Douglas, 3rd Marquess of Queensberry – ‘The Cannibalistic Idiot’
Even as a young child, it was clear to his family that James Douglas (1697-1715) was violently insane and so he was detained under lock and key in his Scottish home of Queensberry House in Edinburgh, Scotland. The physically formidable and dangerous young man was kept in permanent darkness in a ground floor room of the building with the windows completely blacked out, no doubt only adding to his anger and resentment.
In 1707, the night that the Act of Union was signed, Douglas somehow managed to escape. He skulked around the impressive manor in a foul mood for some time until he smelt cooking emanating from the kitchen area.
There he found his victim – a young male servant whom he murdered and mounted on a spit, at which point he lit a fire and began cooking him. Some time passed before he was found devouring pieces of the servant’s hacked body by shocked household members.
James was subsequently carted off to England where he died a few years later.
In February 2004, police forced entry into a Walthamstow flat in London, to find Peter Bryan lying in the hallway covered in blood. It quickly transpired that Bryan had murdered his friend Brian Cherry, 43, whose brain he had been cooking in a frying pan on his stove.
Bryan told officers: “I ate his brain with butter, it was really nice,” as well as adding: “I would have done someone else if you hadn’t come along.“
“I wanted their souls.”
Bryan was taken to Broadmoor Hospital, where incredibly, he would go on to kill again. However, he did not get a chance to taste human flesh again, as much he wanted to. He stated, had he not been disrupted, he would have cannibalised his victim and fellow patient Richard Loudwell, aged 59.
Bryan, who suffers from schizophrenia, is unlikely to ever be released.
Thomas Jeffries, also known as Mark Jeffries, was transported from Britain to a penal colony in Australia after threatening to stab a police constable, although that was just the beginning of Jeffries’ crimes…
In Australia, he sexually assaulted and raped a number of women and soon fled to the bush with two other men from Macquarie Harbour where he had been residing.
Once in the bush and on the run, Jeffries and his accomplices kidnapped a woman, and because she could not keep up with the men, tore her five-month-old baby from her arms and killed him by continuously smashing his head into a nearby tree. This resulted in the child’s skull and brain being left in bloody pieces.
Jeffries and his gang were soon caught, still carrying around five lbs of human flesh from one of their group who had fallen asleep, upon which he was promptly dispatched and cannibalised.
Jeffries put up no fight when found, and was more than happy to inform on his fellow gang members.
By the time Jeffries had been sentenced he was notorious for being the lowest of the low – even fellow criminals despised him.
Jeffries was sentenced to death, but on the day of his execution Mathew Brady, who was to be hanged alongside Jeffries for another crime, complained loudly at the prospect of entering into the afterlife next to such a “dehumanised monster”.
Born in 1972, Anthony Morley was a former model and winner of the first ever Mr Gay UK competition in 1993.
In 2008, Morley – known to have had an alcohol problem – stumbled into a fast food shop in Leeds in the early hours of 2nd May, dripping with blood, demanding that the police be called.
Officers who arrived at his flat found the dismembered and partially cannibalised body of Morley’s lover, Damien Oldfield, 33, a magazine executive.
It soon transpired that Oldfield had been invited to Morley’s flat, where detectives believe that Morley murdered the man by stabbing him 30 times, then removed a section of his leg which he seasoned and cooked, chewed a part of it and subsequently discarded it.
Morley, aged 36 at the time of the murder, was handed a life sentence, with a minimum term of 30 years for his heinous crime.