Again, I’m looking into a British serial killer, through my research for writing I found we have a lot more than I thought. This is the case of “The Camden Ripper” real name Anthony John Hardy, he was born in 1951 in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, his father was a coal miner while his mother stayed at home. Hardy wanted to escape the lower middle-class life that he was raised in, so he worked hard in school and got accepted at London’s Imperial College to study engineering.
During his time in university in the mid-70s he met his wife Judith Dwight, after marrying the couple moved to Tasmania, Australia and had four children. It was reported in an article in The Evening Standard from November 2003 that Hardy had started to display signs of mental illness as early as 1982, it was claimed that during that year he had attempted to murder Judith by bludgeoning her with a water bottle then trying to drown her in the bath. No charges were filed against Hardy for the attack on Judith, but he did check himself into a psychiatric clinic in Queensland, he stayed for several weeks before returning to Britain.
The couple divorced in 1986 and Judith maintained custody of the children, she then moved back to Britain as well to start her new life. However, when Judith returned to the UK, Hardy began to stalk her, she filed a restraining order, but it was reported that he broke the order and was temporarily imprisoned.
When Hardy was released from prison he sought help for his psychiatric problems at outpatient clinics. According to a January 2003 article in The Scotsman, Hardy was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, this disorder mainly affects the nerves in the body and can cause numbness and pain commonly in ,the hands and feets, but it can affect other areas as well, it’s also known to cause depression, which corresponds as Hardy was also diagnosed with manic depression (Bipolar disorder) he was given medication to help reduce his symptoms.
Around the early to mid-90s Hardy was homeless and lived in hostels throughout the city, he started abusing drugs and alcohol, which would have reacted with his medication and mental illness. He would often get into trouble with the police while he was homeless often for aggressive behaviour and theft, these incidents earned him a short stay in jail.
It was reported that in 1998 Hardy was arrested for indecent assault after a prostitute claimed he’d raped her, the charges were later dropped, and he was released, but in 2003 it was reported again that Hardy was investigated for three other rapes, all with “insufficient evidence to bring a case against him”. Hardy again was made to under go psychiatric treatment at a local hospital, he was then discharged and referred once again to out-patient care.
Hardy moved to Camden in 2000, he had a one-bedroom rental flat on Royal College Street. This neighbourhood became his hunting ground when he was actively killing, he chose this area as it was near King’s Cross an area often frequented by prostitutes.
In January 2002, Hardy was in trouble with the police again when he was caught pouring battery acid into his neighbour’s mailbox, the neighbour told the police that “something was amiss” at Hardy’s flat, and this tip led to the gruesome discovery in his bedroom. The door was locked but the police broke through and found the body of a woman lying naked on his bed. There was evidence that the woman had cuts to her head, bite marks and bruising, this indicated that she could have been murdered, Hardy claimed that he had no recollection of how Sally got into his flat due to his drink problem, while in custody for this he was transferred to a psychiatric hospital under section 37 of the Mental Health Act 1983, remaining there until November 2002. Despite this, pathologists ruled as a heart attack.
The woman was identified as Sally Rose white, she was a 38 year old prostitute from the King’s Cross area, she was known to have an addiction to crack cocaine, it was suggested also that Sally suffered from brain damage and that she had behaviour problems caused by a birth related spinal cord injury, it was believed that her condition got worse as she got older due to lack of treatment, this coupled with her drug addiction could have resulted in a heart attack, of course the death by “natural causes” was later questioned when other deaths were associated with Hardy.
“The Bin Murders” as they were called by the media were some of Hardy’s victims, on 30th December 2002 a homeless man was foraging around the bins behind a pub on Royal College Street, when he made the gruesome discovery of a bun bag full of human remains including severed sections of two legs, he took the remains to a nearby hospital and the police were contacted.
The area was immediately cordoned off and officers searched the bins and found eight more bags containing body parts. BBC News reported in December 2002 that the torso of a young woman was also found in a bin about 100 yards away from the original discovery.
St. Pancras mortuary examined the body parts, but a cause of death was hard to determine because hands and heads of the victims were still missing. They were however able to determine that the body parts belonged to two different women who were murdered over the Christmas period, DNA tests were run to try and identify the women but were unsuccessful.
In the reports about “The Bin Murders” The Daily Mail reported that “a trail of blood” led the police to Hardy’s flat, which was located a short distance from the dump site of the body parts. A warrant was quickly obtained by authorities and they searched his ground floor flat, he was nowhere to be found when the police arrived, but they found a great deal of incriminating evidence. Among the evidence found in the flat were a hacksaw with human skin still attached, an electric jig saw power tool, pornographic magazines scattered around, a woman’s black stiletto that was rested on the windowsill, blood was found in the bathroom, a devil mask was found with a note nearby that read “Sally White RIP”, and the most incriminating piece of evidence was then found, the torso of a woman wrapped in bin liners.
It was suspected at this point that Hardy had fled due to the fact he had been missing for days, a CCTV camera caught a siting of Hardy on 1st January when he tried to fill his prescription for diabetes at a London hospital, it seemed from the footage that Hardy had shaved his beard to attempt to alter his appearance.
After being spotted by hospital CCTV the staff of the hospital were interviewed and revealed that Hardy had spent four hours in the hospital waiting for his medication, they speculated that he had been drinking as he smelled of alcohol, Hardy reportedly started to become “panicky” and left the hospital without his medication after staff had tried to convince him to go to a hostel.
A member of the public had seen Hardy with a young woman shortly after the Christmas period, her name was Kelly Anne Nicol, aged 24, her family grew concerned for her safety and feared she had become one of Hardy’s victims, however she contacted her family and let them know she was okay. She had been in contact with Hardy, but he repeatedly tried to get her back to his flat, this made her uncomfortable and she refused. This saved her life.
Hardy was spotted at Great Ormond Street Hospital for children in Central London on 2nd January, a local citizen reported it to the police, during a search of the hospital grounds, Hardy was found hiding behind some bins, he resisted arrest and a fight broke out a police officer was knocked unconscious and another one stabbed through the hand and had is eye socket dislocated, despite the injury the officers were able to hold Hardy until back up arrived, Hardy was then arrested on the scene.
With Hardy in custody investigators were able to identify the two victims found in his home and the bins, they were identified as Elizabeth Selina Valad, aged 29 from London and Brigitte MacClennan aged 32 from Camden, both women had a lot in common, they were both prostitutes working the streets to fund a crack cocaine addiction. Hardy would use these vulnerabilities to lure his victims in he would promise them drugs and money to get them in his flat.
Elizabeth’s torso was found at Hardy’s residence and her legs wee found in by the homeless man in the bin, with no hands it was as mentioned difficult to identify her, but they were able to match the torso to Elizabeth to serial numbers found on her breast implants. It was suggested that both women were murdered on or before December 30th, 2002.
Sally White’s death was re-investigated, and it was believed that Hardy had murdered Sally and got away with it when the pathologist misdiagnosed her cause of death. They had to prove this theory to charge Hardy with Sally’s murder, however after a brief inquest it was determined that Sally had died of natural causes relater to chronic heart disease. The finding of this inquest was later disproved following evidence that Hardy brought forth in court.
The trial began in November 2003 at The Old Bailey Courthouse, Hardy made a startling confession at the early onset of the trial. He pled guilty to murdering Elizabeth, Brigitte and Sally. During his arrest and interview he replied “no comment” to everything, refused to co-operate and denied murdering the three women. The credibility of the medical examiners was called into question after the confessions as it discounted their reports on Sally’s death.7
The horrific details of the victim’s last hours were revealed in court. Hardy would lure the women to his flat under the promise of money and drugs, when he had the women in his flat he would engage in extreme sex with them before strangling them. After the victims died he would then pose the women’s bodies nude and take explicit photos of them, it has also been reported that he would engage in necrophilia.
Hardy reportedly took 44 pornographic pictures of Elizabeth and Brigitte and allegedly sent them to a friend, these pictures were turned into the police, one of the photos depicted Elizabeth lying posed naked on the bed with her face obscured by the devil mask and a baseball cap, both were found in his flat during the search.
When he’d finished with his victims, Hardy would use a hacksaw to dismember their bodies in his bath, when police interviewed neighbours after the discovery of the bodies they said they heard drilling sounds “at all hours of the day”.
Justice Keith, the judge overseeing the case said to Hardy at the end of 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”. On 25th November 2003, Hardy was given three life sentences for the murders, it would be decided later by a judge if Hardy should ever be released on licence. In 2010 it was Hardy’s case was reviewed and Justice Keith ruled that Hardy would never be released from prison saying “I have decided that Hardy should never be released from prison. This is an exceptionally rare case in which life should mean life.”
It’s clear from his victim choice that he was not a very confident man when it came to women, killers that target prostitutes, often do it because they don’t have the confidence to manipulate women to go with them, in Hardy’s case he targeted vulnerable women that were prostitutes to fund serious addictions to crack cocaine making it easy to isolate the victims because he could just offer them money or drugs as oppose to having to have to manipulate a woman with social confidence as well as in most cases where the victims are prostitutes there’s often a hatred or disgust behind the murders like “The Yorkshire Ripper” Peter Sutcliffe, but in Hardy’s case the fact the women were prostitutes didn’t matter he was interested in the violent sex, the corpse play and the necrophilia, he definitely would have subjected any woman he had isolated in his flat to the violence, this again being proved by the violent attack on his wife.
There’s some debate about whether he would dismember the bodies for fun or for convenient disposal of the bodies. Initially looking at this case I would have said the dismemberment was for convenience like it is in most murders, but the fact the remains were just left in a bin, easily found says that the dismemberment was part of what he enjoyed about the murders, he’s clearly not a stupid man he made sure was left in the bin would take time to identify due to there being no hands or head, showing he was going out of his way to dismember the body in a way that wouldn’t be traced back to him.
Did his mental illness play a part in the murders? In a way I think it did, these days plenty of people live healthy non-violent lives with bi polar disorder and peripheral neuropathy, but when he started displaying signs of mental health issues he tried to kill his wife and later while homeless and an alcoholic he was arrested numerous times for theft and violence. I think when he started to develop mental health problems he felt his brain “lose control” Bi-polar disorder can be that way with the sufferer struggling initially to understand the switches from manic highs to manic lows and the nerve problems with peripheral neuropathy can make people unable to move their limbs freely due to them twitching or going numb, with that he felt he needed to “take back the control” and to him killing his wife was the way to do that. Also with both of these conditions, the sufferer will take medications such as anti-depressants, which can alter people’s moods and behaviour (that’s what their designed to do) and in Hardy’s case while he was supposed to be on these medications he was abusing alcohol and drugs, mixing the two could enhance the more dangerous ideas he clearly already had in his head because of his mental illnesses.
Finally, I can’t finish this piece without mentioning why he had issues with women, not much is said about his childhood and all that is known says it was a “normal” childhood, so it’s unclear if he had issues with his mother, but I think this again ties in with his mental illness rather than his upbringing. His depression would have been extreme with bi-polar disorder worsened also by the alcohol, one of the symptoms of depression is self-loathing often when depressed people hate themselves to such a strong extent they will lash out at others, often it’s in a non-violent way like saying insulting someone, but in some cases that self-loathing can build a mass shooter, with Hardy I think he wanted to lash out at other people to feel in control and unashamed of his mind. That feeling of power and control was achieved for Hardy by completely dominating and humiliating his victims by doing this they were unable to make him feel shame or self-loathing as he is the dominant in the situation.