- Graham Young
Graham Frederick Young (
September 7 1947– August 1 1990) was a British murderer who fatally poisoned three people (his stepmother, and then years later two work colleagues, Bob Egle and Fred Biggs) as well as administering smaller doses to scores of others.
Early life and crimes
Young was born in
Neasden, north London. He was fascinated from a young age by poisons and their effects. In 1961 at 14 he started to test poisons on his family in doses strong enough to make them violently ill. He amassed large quantities by buying small amounts of antimonyand digitalis, lying about his age and claiming they were for science experiments at school.
In 1962 Young's stepmother Molly died from poison. He also had been poisoning his father, sister, and a school friend. Young's aunt Winnie, who knew of his fascination with
chemistryand poisons, became suspicious. He might have escaped suspicion if no one had known of his interests because he regularly suffered the same nausea and sicknesses as his family, often because he forgot which foods he had laced. He was sent to a psychiatrist, who recommended contacting the police. Young was arrested on 23 May 1962. He confessed to the attempted murders of his father, sister, and friend. The remains of his stepmother could not be analysed because she had been cremated.
Young was sentenced to 15 years in
Broadmoor Hospital, an institution for mentally unstable criminals. He was released after nine years, deemed "fully recovered". In the hospital, Young had studied medical texts, improving his knowledge of poisons, and had continued experiments, using inmates and staff.
After release from hospital in 1971, he worked at a photographic supply store in
Bovingdon, Hertfordshire, not far from his sister's home in Hemel Hempstead. His employers received references from Broadmoor, but were not informed of his past as a convicted poisoner, as part of Young's rehabilitation. Soon after he began work, his foreman, Bob Egle, grew ill and died. Young had been making tea laced with poisons such as antimonyand thalliumfor his colleagues. A sickness swept through his workplace and, mistaken for a virus, was nicknamed the Bovingdon Bug. All these cases of nausea and illness, sometimes severe enough to require hospitalisation, were later attributed to Young and his tea.
Young poisoned about 70 people during the next few months, none fatally. Egle's successor sickened soon after starting work there, but decided to quit. That probably saved his life. A few months after Egle's death, another of Young's workmates, Fred Biggs, grew ill and was admitted to London National Hospital for Nervous Diseases (now part of the
National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery). It was too late and after suffering agony for several weeks, he became Young's third and final victim.
At this point, it was evident that an investigation was necessary. Young asked the company doctor if the investigators had considered
thalliumpoisoning. He also told a colleagues that his hobby was the study of toxic chemicals. Young's colleague went to the police, who uncovered Young's criminal record.
Young was arrested in
Sheerness, Kent, on November 21, 1971. Police found thalliumin his pocket and antimony, thalliumand aconitinein his flat. They also discovered a detailed diary that Young had kept, noting the doses he had administered, their effects, and whether he was going to allow each person to live or die.
At his trial at
St AlbansCrown Court, which started 19 June 1972 and lasted for 10 days, Young pleaded not guilty, and explained the diary as a fantasy for a novel. Young was sentenced to life in prison. He was dubbed The Teacup Poisoner, although he apparently wanted to be remembered as "the World's poisoner".
While in prison, he befriended fellow serial killer and Moors murderer
Ian Brady, with whom he shared fascination with Nazi Germany. In his 2001 book, "The Gates of Janus" published by Feral House, Brady wrote that "it was hard not to have empathy for Graham Young". In his autobiography "Pretty Boy", the unlicensed fighter Roy Shawtells of his friendship with Young.
Young died in his cell at Parkhurst prison in 1990 at the age of 42. The cause of death was listed as
myocardial infarction, but there is conjecture that fellow prisoners were the culprits.
In popular culture
A film called "
The Young Poisoner's Handbook" (1995) is loosely based on Young's life. Murder Metal band Macabre, wrote a song titled "Poison" about him and his crimes, which appears on the Murder Metal album. Japanese doom metal band Church of Misery had a song about him called "Taste The Pain (Graham Young)" which was released on the "Taste the Pain EP" in 1998.
In 2005 in Japan, a 16-year-old girl attempted to kill her mother as his copycat. [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article585815.ece] [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4961768.stm]
* [http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial_killers/weird/graham_young/index.html Crimelibrary entry for Graham Young]
* [http://web.ukonline.co.uk/ruth.buddell/young.htm Quick overview of Young's "career"]
* [http://www.murderuk.com/poisoners_graham_young.html Graham Young at Murder in the UK]
* [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-1854972,00.html Schoolgirl blogger poisons mother in homage to Young] [News article]
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