Inside the grisly crimes of forgotten serial killer Patrick Mackay who butchered priest & could soon be back on streets

WITH bulging eyes and a piece of chicken in his hand, 'Beast of Belgravia' Patrick Mackay poses in a photobooth after hacking a priest to death with an axe.

It's the picture of a psychopath – yet after serving 45 years in jail for a string of grisly killings, Mackay is making a bid for freedom that could see him roam Britain's streets again.

Slaughtered up to 11

The 'forgotten' serial killer, now 68, butchered the Kent priest and strangled two elderly widows during a horrific robbery campaign on the affluent streets of West London.

Viewing his crimes as his "destiny", he later claimed to have slaughtered 11 victims – including a four-year-old boy and Essex mum Ivy Davies, 48 – before retracting a confession.

This week, it emerged that a Parole Board hearing – to decide whether Nazi-obsessed Mackay can be safely released – has been adjourned for a fourth time, until Spring.

Yet for his victims' grieving families, the prospect of his release is a horrifying one. “If you haven’t come clean you’re not reformed," blasted Ivy’s son, Victor.

'No remorse or regret'

Author John Lucas, who penned a book about Mackay, Britain's Forgotten Serial Killer: The Terror of the Axeman, also warns that it's "highly unlikely" the killer has gained any insight in prison.

Referring to a short memoir Mackay wrote while on remand, John says: “There was no hint of remorse or regret for what he had done to his victims, only frustration at how it had affected him.  

“Lack of empathy is a core trait of psychopathy, and it is highly unlikely Mackay has gained further insight over the years, even though he claims not to be a psychopath and to have never derived pleasure from killing. 

There was no hint of remorse or regret for what he had done to his victims, only frustration at how it had affected him.

“This is a clear lie, because he was assessed in the days after his arrest and told a Home Office psychologist that ‘any man doing a killing enjoys it at the time – it’s animal.’"

So, how did Mackay – thought to be the country's longest-serving living prisoner – come to commit such atrocities in the first place?

A violent & 'bully' child

Growing up, the serial killer displayed worrying – and violent – behaviour.

Born in Kent in September 1952, he was brought up by a physically and emotionally abusive father, Harold, who was mentally scarred by his war service in Africa.

When Mackay was ten, his father died.

In his last words to his son, Harold reportedly told him to "remember to be good". But Mackay would ignore this advice – ending up before the courts for the first time, for petty offences, aged 11.

It would be only the first of many court appearances for the school bully – who was sent to various psychiatric institutions, prisons and specialist schools over the next 11 years.

Roasted pet tortoise over fire

During his childhood, Mackay also became obsessed with Nazis and gruesome war stories. And, like many serial killers in the making, he started torturing and slaying small animals.

He butchered the innocent animals in the back garden of his home in Gravesend, including the family’s pet tortoise, which he cruelly roasted over an open fire.

Another of Mackay's hobbies was collecting Nazi memorabilia and horror action figures. Sometimes, he would modify the toys by sticking pins in their eyes. 

And while Mackay was a bully in the classroom he soon graduated to carrying out violent attacks in the street – once, smashing two young boys' heads into the ground on a building site.

Another time, he tried to strangle a lad.

He later told police he would have killed him had he not been stopped. 

Chilling prediction

When he was 15, Mackay was diagnosed as a psychopath by psychiatrist Dr Leonard Carr, who predicted the teen would grow up to be a "cold, psychopathic killer".

Sadly, he was right.

In February 1974, Mackay strangled and stabbed wealthy widow Isabella Griffiths, 87, at her Kensington home. Evidence suggested he stayed around for a while, listening to the radio.

While he was being held on remand, Mackay’s lawyer and a team of journalists encouraged him to write a short memoir, which gave a chilling insight into the psychopath's mind.

I closed her eyes as they were staring lifeless up, covered her as if in a sleeping bag and left her there

He commented of Isabella's death: “She was not a bad soul, and why I killed her I feel I may never know. I suppose that even though I had killed her, I wanted in death to make her comfortable as she lay on her kitchen floor.

"I closed her eyes as they were staring lifeless up, covered her as if in a sleeping bag and left her there. These murders were so solemn when I think of them, yet so quick, so fast to take place."

Then, in March 1975, the strangled body of another widow, Adele Price, 89, was discovered in a Knightsbridge flat. Again, Mackay had hung around after the killing, even falling asleep in an armchair.

Mutilated a priest

The brute's third official slaying came the same month, when he butchered Catholic priest Father Anthony Crean – who had earlier befriended him – using his fists, a knife and an axe.

After the killing in the Kent village of Shorne, Mackay left his victim's mutilated body in a bath full of bloody water. It was later found by a horrified nun.

During interview, Mackay shocked detectives with his frank descriptions of his crimes, saying of Father Crean's dying moments: “I lunged at his throat lots of times, sticking and sticking and sticking it.

I lunged at his throat lots of times, sticking and sticking and sticking it. He was making noises, like gurgling from his throat

"He was making noises, like gurgling from his throat, then I hit him in the temple with it. It went in right up to the hilt then I tried to stab him in the top of his head.

"I banged away but it just buckled the knife up, really bent it. When I got him in the side of the head he put his hand up and he slid down the bath making a long, long, long noise.

"I suppose it was the noise you make…the human body is a funny thing, the anatomy.” 

On another occasion, Mackay made a straight-faced comment that detectives interpreted as an attempt at black humour. 

When questioned on his choice of weaponry, Mackay replied: “I always carry two knives for protection. You know there are a lot of people around these days, violent and that.” 

Convicted of manslaughter

Though Mackay has previously boasted of killing 11 victims, he was convicted of only three counts of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.

But John says there is "no doubt" the killer's spree began much earlier than Isabella's death – as he calls for the authorities to ensure Mackay is "never" allowed to walk the streets again.

“It was simply easier at the time to accept his guilty pleas to the three cases for which he was prepared to admit responsibility and there was an assumption that he would never get out," says John.

“That assumption has now been proven to be misjudged and the authorities must ensure that Mackay is never allowed to rejoin society."

Unsolved cases

As well as popular Westcliff-on-Sea cafe owner Ivy, Mackay allegedly previously admitted to killing Stephanie Britton and her four-year-old grandson Christopher Martin in 1974.

“The case was initially judged to be a domestic killing, but it closely resembled Mackay’s modus operandi and a young man matching his description was seen close to the house before and after the act," John says of the double killing.

Another chilling confession was to the murder of au pair Heidi Mnilk, 18, who was knifed in the neck and thrown from a moving train between London Bridge and New Cross in 1973.

"Mackay is still the prime suspect in the murder," adds John.

If Mackay really did kill 11 people, he would be the nation's fifth most prolific serial killer behind Dr Harold Shipman, Dennis Nilsen, Peter Sutcliffe and Fred and Rose West.

In the years since his crimes, Mackay has been nicknamed the Devil’s Disciple and The Psychopath. Yet today, he has been 'forgotten' by many due to his few manslaughter convictions.

My life was wasted. I now realise that it is now wasted forever to rot

Even before his sentencing, Mackay could see himself spending the rest of his life behind bars, writing in his memoir: “My life was wasted. I now realise that it is now wasted forever to rot.

"Something terrible had to come along in order to reveal the decaying disaster that my life has been since 1962.

"You know, when I look at myself now I could put a bullet through my head and through my brain for the kind of bloody life that I have had, but I do not know who would do me that service.

"I have often thought to myself, whenever I am alone, that it would be the best thing I could ever have done.” 

Depending on the upcoming Parole Board hearing, Mackay's life 'rotting' in prison could soon be over.

But in the eyes of John, Ivy’s son Victor, and many others, the fiend has still to be brought to justice for a host of deadly crimes.

"Mackay should be questioned by a dedicated team with knowledge of the entire case – something that did not happen at the time, when individual detectives from all over London spoke to Mackay about their own cases without knowing the full picture," says John.

“The fact that nobody else has ever emerged as a credible suspect in the unsolved cases for which he was questioned speaks volumes."

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