Graham Young

Graham Young

Graham Frederick Young (September 7, 1947 – August 22, 1990) was an English murderer. He is notable for his obsession with the use of poison, and for having been imprisoned for murder in his teens, only to kill again after his release.


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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, enough to make them violently ill. He amassed large quantities of antimony and digitalis by repeatedly buying small amounts, lying about his age and claiming they were for science experiments at school.

In 1962 Young’s stepmother Molly died from poison. He had been poisoning his father, sister, and a school friend. Young’s aunt Winnie, who knew of his fascination with chemistry and poisons, became suspicious. He might have escaped suspicion as he suffered the same nausea and sicknesses as his family, however he sometimes forgot which foods he had laced. He was sent to a psychiatrist, who recommended contacting the police. Young was arrested on May 23, 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 studied medical texts, improving his knowledge of poisons, and continued experiments using inmates and staff.

Later crimes

After release from hospital in 1971, he began work as a storekeeper at John Hadland Laboratories, which manufactured thallium bromide-iodide infrared lenses used in military equipment, in Bovingdon, Hertfordshire, near 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 for his colleagues. A sickness swept through his workplace and, mistaken for a virus, was nicknamed the Bovingdon Bug. 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. 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 thallium poisoning. He also told a colleague 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 thallium in his pocket and antimony, thallium and aconitine in 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 Albans Crown Court, started June 19, 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.

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 Shaw tells 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.[citation needed]

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.

Young was thrilled when a waxwork of himself was added to the Madame Tussaud’s ‘Chamber of Horrors’, alongside his boyhood hero, “Dr. Crippen.”

In November 2005 a 16-year-old Japanese schoolgirl was arrested for poisoning her mother with thallium. She claimed to be fascinated by Young, having seen the 1995 film, and kept an online blog, similar to Young’s diary, recording dosage and reactions.[1][2]


External links

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