British 'cannibal serial killer' sets world record for longest time spent in solitary confinement

21 January 2023, 09:32 | Updated: 21 January 2023, 10:09

Robert Maudsley
Robert Maudsley. Picture: Unknown

By Kit Heren

A British serial killer accused of cannibalism has set the record for the most days spent in solitary confinement, according to reports.

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Robert Maudsley has lived in a jail cell on his own for 16,400 days - nearly 45 years - because of fears that he could kill anyone he bunked with.

Already in Yorkshire's Wakefield Prison for a double murder, Maudsley killed two fellow inmates in 1978, telling a guard: "There'll be two short on the rollcall tonight" and has been in solitary confinement ever since, the Mirror reported.

Maudsley has been accused of eating the brains of his victims, a claim he has denied.

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Prison staff including the barber refused to be alone with Maudsley, and Wakefield had a special unit built containing a solitary confinement cell for him in 1983.

The cell is 5.5 metres by 4.5 metres, which is slightly larger than average. The only furnishings are a compressed cardboard table and chair. Maudsley said it felt like he was "buried alive".

"The prison authorities see me as a problem, and their solution has been to put me into solitary confinement and throw away the key, to bury me alive in a concrete coffin," Maudsley wrote decades ago.

"It does not matter to them whether I am mad or bad. They do not know the answer and they do not care just so long as I am kept out of sight and out of mind.

"I am left to stagnate, vegetate and to regress; left to confront my solitary head-on with people who have eyes but don't see and who have ears but don't hear, who have mouths but don't speak. My life in solitary is one long period of unbroken depression."

His nephew Gavin Mawdsley told Channel 5’s Evil Behind Bars that his uncle had accepted his fate because he could not control his murderous impulses against sex offenders.

“He’s asking to be on his own because he knows what can happen," he said.

“Put him on a wing surrounded by rapists and paedophiles – I know this because he told us – he was going to kill as many paedophiles as he could.“

"I’m not condoning what he did. He did very bad things. But he didn’t kill a child or woman. An innocent person didn’t go to work that day and never return home. The people he killed were really bad people.”

A murderer who spent time in the cell next to Mawdsley told the programme: "I felt we were being psychologically murdered. The system’s treatment of Bob was totally dehumanising.

“To hold someone in an underground cage for over 40 years. It is unforgivable.

“There are other ways of dealing with prisoners like Bob.”

The previous longest stretch a prisoner has spent in solitary confinement is thought to be 43 years. Albert Woodfox was released in 2016 on his 69th birthday.