LONDON, UK – Robert Mawdsley, now 70 years old, has spent a record-breaking 50 years behind bars, with 45 of those years spent in solitary confinement. Mawdsley was just 21 years old when he was imprisoned in 1974 for the murder of 30-year-old John Farrell.
Nicknamed ‘Hannibal the Cannibal’ due to false reports that he had eaten one of his victim’s brains, Mawdsley has been living in an 18-foot by 15-foot cell since 1983, which was specially built for him and protected by bulletproof glass. He was placed in solitary confinement just four years after his imprisonment, following the murder of three people inside the prison.
While at Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire, Mawdsley took a fellow inmate hostage and killed him with a plastic spoon. His infamy grew with rumors that he had eaten a piece of the victim’s brain. After being transferred to Wakefield prison in West Yorkshire, he murdered two more inmates, resulting in his prolonged solitary confinement.
Mawdsley has expressed conflicting feelings about his solitary confinement, alternating between contentment and likening it to being buried alive in a coffin. Despite numerous requests to interact with others, he has been consistently denied, living out his days in his solitary cell. Mawdsley’s 50 years in prison surpasses the previous UK record held by Moors murderer Ian Brady, who served 51 years before his death.
In 2021, Mawdsley lost an appeal to spend Christmas with others and was informed that he will remain in his ‘glass box’ until his death. The British Ministry of Justice has stated that there is no solitary confinement in their prison system, and that offenders only undergo segregation if they pose a risk to others, with access to daily outdoor time, visits, phone calls, legal advice, and medical care.