Meet Robert John Maudsley, the Real Hannibal Lecter

Feb 3, 2023 | Articles, Crime

We describe psychopathy as “a lack of interest in, or care for, the sanctity of human life”. Sociopathy, on the other hand, is described as “a lack of interest in, or care for, the rules of a society”. Some people fall in both categories. Such is the case with Robert John Maudsley, or you might say, the real life Hannibal Lecter.

Robert was a British serial killer, responsible for murders of four people. He committed three of these murders in prison, after receiving a life sentence for a single murder. Born in 1953, he is still alive, and serving his sentence in a maximum security prison.

Who is Robert John Maudsley?

Not many people know who he is when his name is spoken. However, just a single glimpse of his prison cell in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, and you can easily find the connection between him and Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

Thomas Harris even says that he is the primary inspiration for his character. Same as in his novels, and in the movies with Anthony Hopkins, he lives in a cell, which is a solitary confinement, underground, and you need to pass multiple locked checkpoints with armed guards to get to him.

He might not be as smart or as well educated as the character based on him. But he is a definition of a “pure sociopath”. Some might say otherwise, and we will discuss that side of the story as well. Many people describe Robert as a person who has zero interest in the sanctity of human life, or rules of any society. Psychological evaluators have noted that he does not kill for enjoyment. Instead, he kills because he feels it is his duty.

Prison psychiatrics have dubbed him “100% psychopath”. Guards, and other inmates are terrified of him escaping, and going on a rage.

Abuse made him killer

The story of Robert Maudsley is a tragic one. He was born in Liverpool in 1953. His story begins like many others of serial killers and psychopaths. He was allegedly sexually and psychically abused as a child. At the age of just two years, he was one of the youngest four siblings taken from his parents care and placed in an orphanage.

Unlike many children, he has happy memories of living in an orphanage. It was at age 8, when he was taken back home, that his struggles began. His father abused him, and he was particularly targeted. At just 16 years old, he ran away to seek a better life in London.

Sadly, things took a different route, as he was found himself sleeping on streets of London. He became addicted to drugs, and turned to prostitution to pay for his drug addiction. He was even hospitalized for suicide attempts. At that time, he was taken for psychiatric evaluation, and he told them that voices inside his head are telling him to kill his parents.

Good guy?

Some people might say that Robert is actually a good guy, and that he is targeting and killing only people that deserve it. His first victim was an alleged child abuser.

At 21 years old, he was taken by a man named John Farrell. He showed Maudsley photos of him commiting sexual abuse upon children, and that is what triggered Maudsley into a rage. He strangled Farrell to death in an instant. Declared unfit to stand trial due to a presumed psychosis at the time, Robert was sent to Broadmoor Hospital for the criminally insane.

There, he committed another crime. In 1977, he kidnapped and tortured fellow inmate, who was a convicted sex offender and abuser. Convicted for manslaughter, he was transferred from the hospital to Wakefield Prison to do his time in a high-security prison.



One year later, he killed two people on the same day. Salney Darwood, convicted sex offender locked up for murdering his wife, and Bill Roberts, the only victim we have so little information of.

Living a normal life

Despite all of the trauma that follows him, you can say he is now living quite a normal life. After 40 years in prison, he still hasn’t lost his sense. He enjoys classical music, poetry, and art. He also has a high IQ, and has made requests to take college courses. The last one has been denied.

In his room, he has a PlayStation 2 and a television. He spent his 64th birthday playing Call of Duty. He also made a request for playing backgammon with prison guards, and for the prison to allow him to have a pet parrot. Both of those request have been denied.

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