British serial killer
Anthony Hardy was convicted in November 2003 of murdering three women in London, two of whom he butchered in an effort to dispose of their bodies and so earned himself the name of the Camden Ripper.
Genesis of a killer
Anthony John Hardy was born in 1951 at Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire. He had a reasonably conventional childhood, did well at school and attended Imperial College, London where he studied engineering. It was at university that he met his wife Judith Dwight, and the pair later moved to Tasmania where they raised a family of two boys and two girls. It was whilst in Australia that Hardy began to exhibit the first signs of mental illness, as it was on the 5th April 1982 that he took a frozen water bottle from the freezer and struck his wife on the head whilst she was asleep. Hardy then dragged his stunned wife to the bathroom where he attempted to drown her in the bath.
Although she declined to press charges against her husband, Judith decided to return to Britain where she filed for divorce on the 14th May 1982. A later attempt at reconciliation failed and the divorce was finalised in 1986, following which the she felt obliged to take out a restraining order against her husband in November 1986. Hardy soon broke the terms of the order and was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment. He nevertheless continued to harass his former wife, sending threatening letters, making threatening phone calls and repeatedly slashing the tyres of her car. As a result he was sentenced to a further twelve months imprisonment on the 16th September 1987. After his release Hardy was in further trouble; on the 2nd January 1989 he stole a car, and led the police in a high speed chase during before he lost control of the vehicle and crashed, and in 1991 he served another six months in prison for theft.
Hardy spent the early 1990s drifting around London sometimes sleeping rough and sometimes finding accommodation in a variety of hostels, hotels and squats from which he was regularly evicted due to incidents of verbal and/or physical aggression fuelled by his consumption of alcohol and other drugs. He appears to have first come to the attention of the mental health services in Camden in May 1995. This was as a result of an incident at the Ferndale Hotel in King's Cross on the 30th April when the police were called and he was found "ranting and raving and clearly psychotic". Hardy was subsequently evicted from the Ferndale on the 24th August and again evicted from his accommodation on the 11th September when he was described as acting like a "wild animal".
He was subsequently detained under the Mental Health Act at the Huntley Centre between the 3rd October 1995 and the 2nd January 1996, before being released into the community and housed in various forms of supported accommodation. For the next two years Hardy appeared to be responding well to treatment until the 24th April 1998 he was arrested for being drunk and disorderly at King’s Cross station, and later that same day also arrested for rape. That charge was later reduced to indecent assault, and then dropped when the complainant refused to press charges, but as a direct result Hardy was again detained under the Mental Health Act on the 10th May, and held in a secure intensive care unit for a few days before being taken to St Luke’s Hospital where he remained until his discharge on the 6th August 1998. Hardy was again housed in supported accommodation with a community care plan in place, and was eventually allocated a one-bedroom Council flat on Royal College Street in Camden early in 2000.
In many ways there is nothing particularly remarkable in this story, it being no different form any of the other many cases where mental instability leads to marital breakdown which results in hopelessness and a general descent into alcoholism and drug abuse.
The bizarre death of Sally Rose White
Towards the end of 2001 Hardy appears to have fallen into a dispute with a neighbour at Royal College Street who lived in the flat immediately above his; a dispute apparently caused by his neighbour's carelessness in allowing water to escape from her home and drip though the ceiling into Hardy's flat below.
On the 20th January 2002 the police were called to Royal College Street acting on a complaint that he had poured battery acid through his neighbour's letterbox and painted the words "Fuck you, slut you’re a cunt" on her front door in large black letters. Hardy was arrested for criminal damage and handcuffed. During the course of the arrest the attending officers noticed that the bedroom door of the flat was locked. Hardy initially claimed that the room was let out to a lodger and that he did not have the key. The police nevertheless found the key in his possession and opened the door. They were somewhat surprised to find the body of a naked and very dead woman lying on the bed and promptly arrested him on suspicion of murder.
The body turned out to be that of Sally Rose White, a thirty-eight year old prostitute from the King's Cross area who had last been seen alive on the previous day. Oddly enough the post mortem examination concluded that she had died of a heart attack brought on by the combination of a birth-related spinal cord injury and her use of crack cocaine. Therefore, although there was evidence that she had suffered "cuts to her head, bite marks and bruising", it was judged that Sally White had died from natural causes(1). The police decided to drop the murder charge and so when Hardy appeared at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court on the 22nd January the only charge he faced was that of criminal damage, He was remanded to Pentonville Prison and when he reappeared before the same court on 12th March he pled guilty to the charge and was again remanded pending psychiatric reports. As a result he was admitted to the Mornington Unit at St Pancras Hospital on the 8th April, where he remained until the 29th April when he was transferred to the Cardigan ward at St Luke’s Hospital in Muswell.
When psychiatrists questioned Hardy regarding the death of Sally Rose White, he claimed that he had drunk six litres of strong cider and a bottle of wine that day and suffered an alcoholic blackout and thus "he had no knowledge of the woman or how she came to be in his flat". Whilst they were not terribly convinced by this story, during his time at St Luke’s Hospital Hardy appeared stable without any obvious signs of mental illness, and his major problem appeared to be his propensity to get drunk at every available opportunity. On the 4th November the hospital managers came to the conclusion that they had no particular reason to continue his detention and decided to discharge him(2) . By the middle of the month he had returned to his flat in Royal College Street.
The Camden Ripper
On the 30th December 2002 a local tramp was foraging for sustenance in the food bins located behind the College Arms public house on Royal College Street when he came across a bag containing some human remains. This public spirited individual took the bag the nearest hospital and the police were contacted. The police turned out in force to conduct a thorough search of the area. They discovered eight more bags containing sundry body parts together with the torso of a woman which had been dumped in a wheelie bin. It was clear that the various parts belonged to two different women, who had both been killed sometime in the past few days. Moreover they noticed a clear blood trail that led to a nearby block of council flats and directly to the front door of Anthony Hardy. He wasn't home at the time, but the police nevertheless gained access to his flat where they soon found a hacksaw with what appeared to be human skin caught in its teeth, a powered jigsaw, a considerable quantity of blood in the bathroom and most damning of all, a woman's torso wrapped in bin liners.
A nationwide search for the missing Hardy was launched, whose picture was circulated to all police forces in Britain. The police also expressed concern about a possible 'third victim' as a woman by the name of Kelly Anne Nicol had been last seen in Camden High Street on Boxing Day in Hardy's company. (Ms Nicol was known to have two distinctive tattoos and could therefore be eliminated as a candidate for either of the bodies discovered so far, and in any case soon turned up safe and well.)
The very next day Hardy was caught on CCTV at the University College Hospital where he had gone to try and get hold of the drugs he needed to treat his diabetes. The CCTV pictures showed that Hardy had gone to the trouble of shaving off his beard, presumably in an effort to escape detection. His efforts proved in vain as on the 2nd January he was spotted at Great Ormond Street Hospital; the police were called and he was arrested at 9 p.m. that evening and taken into custody.
Subsequent to the arrest the two victims were identified as being Elizabeth Selina Valad aged twenty-nine, and Brigitte MacClennan aged thirty-four. The police never found the hands and head of either victim, despite searching the drains of the block of council flats where Hardy lived and sending police divers into the nearby Regent's Canal, and so identification was something of a challenge. In MacClennan's case the police were forced to rely on DNA, whilst Valad was identified by the serial numbers on her breast implants. In common with Sally White, both these women were prostitutes with a crack cocaine habit, and the gruesome discovery of their bodies naturally prompted a re-evaluation of the circumstances of Sally White's death. Thus when Hardy appeared before Hendon Magistrates Court on the 6th January he was charged with the murder of all three women and remanded in custody.
Initially Hardy pleaded not guilty to the charges and claimed that he never intended to kill anyone, and that the women had died as a result of the use of "excessive force in the course of otherwise consensual but extreme sexual activity". However when he finally appeared at the Old Bailey in November 2003 Anthony Hardy decided to plead guilty to all three murders, and on the 25th November 2003 Hardy was given three life sentences by Justice Keith, who commented that; "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." (3)
Detective Chief Inspector Kenneth Bell offered the opinion that "Hardy is manipulative and evil. He is highly dangerous to women." Apparently the police have since come to suspect Hardy of being responsible for the deaths of both Zoe Louise Parker, whose upper torso was found floating in the Thames at Battersea on the 17th December 2000, and Paula Fields, most of whose body parts were found dumped in Regent's Canal in February 2001. There is however no evidence linking Hardy to either crime, nor indeed to the other five or six other murders in the area which the police suspect he may possibly have been responsible for.
HM Prison Service later sent Hardy to Rampton Hospital for assessment between April and July 2003, and subsequently decided that he was sufficiently sane to he held within the general prison population rather than a secure mental institution. Hardy is currently deemed a category A prisoner and is held at Wakefield Prison where he claims to have found God and rediscovered Catholicism and has also become a vegan. He does not expect to ever be released from prison.
Naturally there was some criticism of the actions of the managers at St Luke’s Hospital who had made the decision to release Hardy in November 2002, and it was claimed, with the benefit of hindsight, that he would not been able to have murdered two women had he not been released. The North Central London Strategic Health Authority commissioned an internal inquiry into the decisions made by the managers of the Camden and Islington Mental Health and Social Care Trust. The inquiry reported in September 2005 and concluded that "Hardy’s mental illness was purely coincidental to the murders" and that it was "not the proper role of mental health services to contain people who may be violent but whose violence is not connected to the mental illness." Or to put it another way, some people are mad, and some are bad. Inevitably there will also be those who are both mad and bad without there necessarily being any connection between the two. The medical profession may or may not be able to do something about the former; the latter is quite outside their terms of reference.
Having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, in Hardy's case it appears that the "onset of diabetes with its subsequent sexual dysfunction was an enormous blow for the defendant to whom sexual activity has been so important throughout his adult life." Thus it was argued it was this sexual dysfunction (i.e. impotence) that triggered Hardy's violent behaviour. As far as can be ascertained he appears to have persuaded the women to come to his apartment where, it is presumed, he strangled them. But whatever sexual activity took place before their death, his primary interest was in posing and photographing their bodies after their demise.
Jackie Valad, mother of victim Elizabeth Selina Valad, later led a campaign for a public inquiry into the events surrounding Hardy's murders, but the High Court ruled that the government had fulfilled its legal obligations.
Another women named Tina Harvey, turned up to interrupt the proceedings and shouted: "I am a living victim and not getting justice". Ms Harvey claimed that that Hardy had raped and tried to kill her on the 13th December 2002, and was subsequently disappointed by the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service not to proceed with the rape charge against Hardy. Ms Harvey has since announced her intention to stand at the next General Election as a candidate in Tottenham North. This happens to be the consitituency of David Lammy, who as a minister at the Department of Constitutional Affairs is responsible for the arrangements for the granting of legal aid; or in Ms Harvey's case for refusing her legal aid to pursue her case against the authorities.
(1) At Sally White's inquest the pathologist reported that there was "no evidence to suggest that he (i.e Hardy) was responsible for the death of Sally White. The investigation has concluded and the matter has been subsequently classified as No Crime". Thus the Coroner concluded that he was "entirely satisfied from the police enquiry and involvement that there is no suggestion of any foul play or third party involvement in this death". However the police had failed to communicate some crucial details regarding the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the body which, it was later argued, might have led the Coroner to reach a different conclusion.
(2) There was later some dispute about whether a doctor's report that claimed that Hardy was a danger to women was ever seen by the hospital mangers that reviewed his case.
(3) The exact cause of death of both Valad and MacClennan has never been determined, whilst Hardy himself has never offered any explanation other than he believed that he fell asleep on top of them and accidentally suffocated them. Hardy was a big man.
- The Independent Review into the Care and Treatment of Mr Anthony Hardy September 2005
- Anthony Hardy from
- The following reports from BBC news (http://news.bbc.co.uk)
More human remains found in bags, 31 December 2002
Body parts police fear more victims, 2 January 2003
Body parts suspect remanded, Monday,6 January 2003
Man given life for triple murder, 25 November 2003
Inquiry into triple killer's care, 26 November 2003
'Serial killer's victim' to stand as MP, 25 February 2005
- Richard Osley, Ripper Inquiry Bid Fails
- Camden Ripper: ‘I prayed for forgiveness’