When a boy from Athlone met the Moors Murderers

Tommy Rattigan escaped the clutches of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady as a child

When a boy from Athlone met the Moors Murderers

In this file photo dated Oct. 1965, Ian Brady, right, is escorted as he arrives at the courthouse in Hyde, Cheshire, England, to be convicted of the Moors murders of five children together with accomplice Myra Hindley in the Greater Manchester area of England. Image: Anonymous/AP/Press Association Images

The first thing seven-year-old Tommy Rattigan noticed was the lack of margarine on his jam butty.

Wandering the streets begging for money as a child, Rattigan met a women who promised him the snack, before subsequently telling him to follow her as he shouldn't have been seen talking to strangers.

That woman was Myra Hindley, one half of the Moor Murderers. Her partner in crime, Ian Brady, died last night.

Rattigan was born in the army barracks in Athlone in 1955, before moving to Hulme in Manchester. Born into extreme poverty, Rattigan began begging from a young age.

"There was 15 in the family altogether, with two alcoholic parents who thought more about alcohol than us," he told Moncrieff. "We were out begging most of the time on the streets.

"It was so bad, we chased pigeons away from the food they were eating and ate the food ourselves."

On the fateful evening, Rattigan was waiting for his brothers in a park following a long evening of scavenging. Hindley approached him, while Ian Brady stood in the background.

The woman queried where Rattigan came from, before offering him the food - an offer which Rattigan admitted was "too tantalising". 

Hindley brought the young boy to her grandmother's house. Rattigan was given the jam butty, when he began to grow suspicious.

"It was the way she plonked it on the table [...] The first thing I noticed, there was no margarine on it. It's a strange thing to think. 

"To me, when I think back, it had been hurried. I believe also that there was something in the jam."

Rattigan asked the pair for a glass of water, when he heard them in a heated exchange. 

"When she returned to the kitchen, I heard raised voices, and I heard him say, 'fucking wait!' That's when I knew I was going to get hurt."

Upon noticing a sash window in the room, Rattigan escaped, after Hindley lunged after him shouting, "the shit's getting away".

Two years later, he was put into a children's home when he saw the murderers' faces on television. He told one of the members of staff that he'd been to their house - a statement which they did not believe.

"I didn't understand the murder part, it was their faces that I saw," he said. "It was only in the years after as I went on that I realised what these people had done."

Contact with Brady

Rattigan appealed to Brady to reveal the location of Keith Bennet's body for the sake of his mother. 

In reply to his letter, Brady denied ever encountering him, saying: "We were ordinary and not dripping in blood." Rattigan admitted he was "stunned" by the reply.

'1963: A Slice of Bread and Jam' by Tommy Rattigan is out now.