The mystery of Mary Hynes

Camden New Journal 9 May, 2013

patrick mackay

POLICE dropped an investigation into the murder of an elderly woman bludgeoned to death in her Kentish Town home after hearing a “confession” from a notorious serial killer –even though he was locked up on remand at the time of the death.

Declassified Scotland Yard documents show how detectives took a “confession” from mentally-ill Patrick Mackay as a means of closing the inquiry into the death of Mary Hynes, 79.

This summer marks the 40th anniversary of her murder, which was front- page news for the Camden Journal, the newspaper which later  became the New Journal.

She was found battered with a block of wood inside her house in Willes Road, near the Prince of Wales Baths.

A stocking had been stuffed into her mouth.

Ms Hynes, who went by the name “Molly”, was known locally as “the animals’ guardian angel” because she would be seen around Kentish Town feeding stray cats and pigeons.

She was a regular at a luncheon club in Busby Place and thrice-weekly would visit the Wolsey pub, now known as Annie’s Bar.

The murder squad file on her death, now available for anybody to see at the National Archives in Kew, suggests Mackay (pictured above) somehow was able to escape from prison, travel to Kentish Town, kill Ms Hynes and then return to custody without anybody noticing.

Mackay’s legal team had indicated he would deny killing her if the case was ever brought to court, the papers show.

It never reached that stage and nobody has ever been convicted of murdering Ms Hynes.

Police said they were convinced by Mackay’s ability to provide an almost photographic description of the murder scene.

mary hynes-suspectThe file claims Mackay – still serving a life-means-life prison sentence for three other murders, and he’s suspected of killing many more – told police that it was probable that he had killed Ms Hynes, although he could not remember completely what he had done.

In his statement to police, Mackay said: “Although I cannot remember the details I am sure that I, and only I, could have committed this murder.

“I am positive of that. I would like to say that when I knocked on her door the only thought in my mind was to get a glass of water.

“It was when I told her that she shouldn’t answer the door to strangers and having said it to her I just flipped and lost my head.”

This was apparently later disputed, and Mr Mackay said in a further statement: “There is no evidence to tie me, except statements I made in a fed-up and couldn’t-care- less frame of mind.”

Mackay was being held at Ashford Remand Centre in Middlesex at the time of Ms Hynes’s death while a charge of carrying a dangerous weapon in an unrelated case was being investigated.

In a typed report to the Crown Prosecution Service, yellowing with age, Detective Chief Inspector John Harris said: “I have made enquiries to establish that the Mackay charged with the murder is in fact the same Mackay who was on remand in Ashford.

“It is of interest that the governor of Ashford at that time suffered a nervous breakdown at about the period in which Mackay was there or shortly afterwards.”

He added: “The officers at that prison, also at the same time, were taking various forms of industrial action and striking because of dissatisfaction over pay.

In spite of this, however, there is nothing to show that Mackay either legally or illegally left prison.

The security at Ashford is such that I feel it would be impossible for any person to climb the outer fence. It is difficult to see how, if he had left the prison, he would enter again.”

In a handwritten note, DCI Harris added: “Except by leaving and re-entering in civilian clothes via the main gate which I consider possible at that time.”

Forty-year-old editions of the Camden Journal, held by Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre at Holborn Library, show police were looking for a “totter” – a rag-and-bone man – for questioning.

Briefings given by detectives revealed a man in a bright orange sweater had been seen climbing on roofs in Willes Road on the day of the murder.

The newspaper reported that the suspect was later seen again in Kentish Town Road a couple of weeks later, a sighting that does not sit comfortably with the theory that Mackay had simply escaped for one day.

“We think he may be a totter and have been making inquiries in local scrapyards,” said Detective John MacFadzean, who initially led a team of 16 detectives on the case.

“He obviously is not a man with many clothes as he was wearing the same orange sweater on Monday that he wore when he was seen on the roof of the house next door to Miss Hynes on the Thursday before she was found.”

The papers also show there were several attacks on elderly people in their homes in Camden in 1973 but committed by different culprits.

Flo Morton, one of Ms Hynes’s friends, said at the time: “She was a quiet, inoffensive person who wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

The bundle of documents in Kew are not for the fainthearted.

There is a warning on the box and it includes graphic photographs from St Pancras Mortuary capable of churning even the strongest of stomachs.

Ms Hynes was repeatedly described as a “spinster”. It is thought she had no close family to monitor the investigation.

In fact, no recent photograph of her alive existed and police investigators had to sketch a picture from the recollections of people who had met her.

A judge ruled in 1975 that Mackay need not be tried for Ms Hynes’ murder but it would remain on his file.

The police investigation file on the Mary Hynes murder was closed the following year.

One of Mackay’s most notorious crimes was the axe murder of a vicar who had befriended him.

It has been estimated that Mackay, a regular user of drink and drugs who moved to London from Kent after asking to be called “Franklin Bollvolt The First”, may have killed up to 11 people during a chaotic spell in the 1970s when he claimed to have drowned a homeless man and robbed the elderly on a regular basis.


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