WHAT is it like to delve into the minds of some of the worst criminals in society?
Forensic psychologist Kerry Daynes is a real-life version of TV’s Cracker.
Kerry worked for 20 years with murderers, rapists and child molesters. Like Robbie Coltrane’s Fitz in the Nineties drama, she analysed mental processes behind heinous acts.
She said: “The challenge for psychologists is to help the person change their behaviour. This is the holy grail. More often, I advised others on the safe and appropriate response to extreme behaviour, from fire setting to child killing.
“My evaluations helped inform the decisions of judges and juries, parole boards, police and mental health teams.
“These decisions have the power to profoundly affect people’s lives.”
During her two decades on the front line, Kerry came face to face with some highly dangerous individuals – as her new book, The Dark Side Of The Mind, reveals. Kerry is now a consultant psychologist, expert witness and trainer.
She campaigns with the National Centre for Domestic Violence and other charities including the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, and is a consultant on crime documentaries.
Emily Fairbairn shares some of her most shocking encounters.
His whole body shifted, contradicting his denials
KERRY was often called upon by police who wanted her to act as a criminal profiler — bringing a new psychological perspective to existing evidence or suspects in a case.
On one memorable occasion, Kerry’s insights were able to help crack an investigation which had been flummoxing police for almost a decade.
The case involved the murder of 62-year-old Malcolm Johns, who was stabbed to death in bed at his home seven years previously.
At the time, police had linked the killing to a series of burglaries in the area. And now they had a prime suspect: Ian Hogan, who had been recently arrested at a storage facility where he had a lock-up full of items stolen in the burglaries.
Hogan was denying any involvement, claiming he had bought the goods from men he traded with in the local pub.
When Kerry re-examined photos taken at the scene of Malcolm Johns’ murder, she noticed something strange.
He had clearly been killed in bed — with the pillow covered in blood splatters — but had then been dragged to the floor and positioned in front of the mirrored wardrobes.
Kerry says: “I could see no practical reason for moving Malcolm Johns’ body from the bed. It was a cumbersome and unnecessary act.
“And when behaviour serves no practical purpose, it most likely serves a psychological need.”
It made Kerry think of a talk she once had with the serial killer Dennis Nilsen, who drowned or strangled at least 12 young men in London.
Nilsen admitted he would cradle his victims in his arms in front of the mirror once he had killed them. To see them limp and helpless gave him a sense of huge power, he said.
Believing this was a similar situation, Kerry encouraged police to re-interview Hogan — and this time throw in a “silver bullet” question he would not be prepared for.
As expected, Hogan denied all involvement in the killing with cold detachment.
But then the detective asked him: “Did you pick Mr Johns up and look at yourself in the mirror when holding him?”
Watching in another room, Kerry recalls: “I paid close attention as Hogan’s mouth stretched sideways, a fleeting expression of fear.
“His head bobbed as his whole body shifted. He pushed his chair back against the wall. Suddenly he was flustered. ‘What are you trying to say?’ he spat. Then, sucking air into his nostrils, his voice dropped as he insisted, ‘Not me, not me’. But his body had already contradicted his denial.”
Hogan continued to protest his innocence up to the day of his trial, when he changed his plea to guilty at the last minute.
Malcolm Johns’ killer had been unmasked at last.
He popped his artificial eye in my bowl of soup
WHEN Kerry was just about to complete her training at a hospital secure unit, she was given the eye by a sex killer called Maurice — in more ways than one.
The man, in his 80s, had been diagnosed with “sexual sadism disorder”. Such people get thrills from inflicting pain or humiliation on another living thing.
In Maurice’s case, this meant as a young man he was a prolific flasher, exposing himself to unsuspecting girls and women in isolated spots.
This had landed him in prison. On release he took things much further. Two women were found dead in his home, with multiple stab wounds around their breasts showing they had been tortured.
He was now in the secure unit where Kerry was about to qualify as a psychologist, aged 24.
She recalls: “One Tuesday, while I was having my lunch in the canteen — soup and a bread roll — Maurice approached from behind and, in the blink of an eye, popped his ocular prosthesis straight out of his face and into my Heinz Cream of Tomato.
“Before I could process what was happening, I was covered in blood-red spatters and my soup was gazing back at me.
“I momentarily lost self-control and gave Maurice exactly the reaction he was hoping for. I shrieked and leaped out of my seat.
“Who wouldn’t balk when faced with an eyeball in their soup?”
Kerry explains that this is an example of “offence paralleling” — when a person behaves in a pattern that resembles or serves the same function as his criminal behaviour.
She goes on: “For Maurice, the sense of mastery at producing fear and disgust on the face of the nearest woman, via the sudden exposure of this particular body part, was as good as it was going to get in the limiting confines of the hospital environment.”
Gran beat him with belt to expunge ‘wickedness’
WHAT turns someone with schizophrenia into a killer? Kerry argues that, contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of the 51million schizophrenic people worldwide live perfectly peacefully, posing no threat or danger to anyone.
An encounter with Marcus, a man in his thirties who murdered his own brother, illuminated to Kerry why it was so important to dig a bit deeper.
On the day he killed Raymond, Marcus believed his brother was possessed by demons. He stabbed Raymond twice in the back outside the gates of a park — in front of his own four-year-old daughter.
So why did this happen? After his Jamaican dad died when Marcus was six, Kerry discovered, his grandmother became a major influence on his life.
She writes: “Marcus told me his grandmother was a fearsome woman who was devoutly and extremely Pentecostal.
“She believed in witchcraft and possession by evil spirits. When, one winter, their flat got a leak, his grandmother had declared it the work of the devil in Marcus.
“He recounted how she had made Raymond hold him down on the kitchen table while she beat him on the back with a leather belt to expunge his ‘wickedness’.”
As he got older, Marcus started to hear voices and his life spiralled out of control. He lost his home, job and girlfriend as his mental state deteriorated. Believing Raymond was possessed, Marcus focused his worries on him. In Marcus’ disturbed mind, the only answer seemed to be doing away with his sibling.
He planned the killing meticulously, arranging to meet Raymond then stealing a knife from a hardware store. Kerry describes it as “a series of rational acts within an irrational story”.
Now in a secure hospital, Marcus railed against the staff, calling them “brainwashers and witchdoctors”. During his frequent meltdowns, he would yell: “I reject your schizophrenia!”
In group therapy he said to other patients: “Don’t let these brainwashers tell you you’re sick.”
But Kerry believes that Marcus’s rejection of his diagnosis was his way of facing up to the responsibility of killing his brother and taking back control of his own mind.
Knowing Marcus’s full story led Kerry to reassess her approach to his case and others like it.
She said: “Working with him made me wonder, if we could see people who act in strange or hard-to-understand ways as simply others in pain, rather than paint them with the stigma of a disorder, would we be more willing and able to reach out to them? And would tragedies like Raymond’s death be more easily avoided?”
Drew blondes tied naked to chair being kicked
LIAM had a history of degrading attacks on women.
The first time he went to prison he was 18, having attacked his girlfriend, 17 — punching her in the face, stripping her naked, tying her to a chair and beating her repeatedly with a belt.
On release he attacked another teen — blonde, like his girlfriend. He followed her from the pub where she worked and knocked her to the ground in a play area, punched her and sexually assaulted her.
Police who later arrested him found notes about the girl’s shift patterns in his room, plus creepy drawings of blonde girls tied and naked, being kicked or punched.
Kerry met Liam at a forensic “step-down service”, where offenders are supervised as they make the transition back into the regular life.
He wanted restrictions lifted on his movements. It was up to Kerry to assess whether he was ready.
Kerry found that Liam had a low score on the psychopath scale — so far, so good. But when she looked in his case file, including receipts and bus tickets he had to submit for the programme, she felt a chill.
They showed that over a period of months he had visited the same Costa on the same days — sometimes as many as three or four times a day. The receipt also named the person who served him — always Esther.
Kerry said: “I went to the Costa. The girl at the counter asked what I wanted but I was too busy looking at her name badge to hear her the first time.
“It was Esther, a short girl with fair hair in a ponytail. She looked about 17.”
When Kerry confronted Liam about what she had discovered and asked him why he was such a regular at Costa, he lost it.
He angrily sent the receipts flying, kicked the table and called Kerry an “interfering old whore”.
She had seen enough. On Kerry’s recommendation, it was decided that Liam’s restrictions wouldn’t be lifted any time soon.
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She cut her finger off so he’d have a piece of her
ONE of the grisliest mysteries of Kerry’s career would be solved by chance many years later.
When working as a locum psychologist in a prison not long after she started out, a disembodied finger had been found in the cell of a prisoner called Fillingham.
The finger was brown and shrivelled, with a shimmer of pink polish on the nail, suggesting it belonged to a woman. No one had ever been able to convince Fillingham to reveal who the finger belonged to.
Nearly 15 years later, Kerry was having lunch in a hospital canteen when one of the patients, a woman in her fifties who introduced herself as Lucy, started talking to her.
Kerry immediately noticed she was missing a finger. After some gentle questioning, the woman revealed that she had cut it off herself.
Kerry recalls: “Lucy said it was for her ex-boyfriend. He’d gone to prison and had written to her saying he wanted to be able to ‘always keep a piece of her with him’.
“She had done as he suggested and cut off her finger for him so he could have it.
“He had been ‘really romantic like that’, she said.” Lucy had wrapped the finger in clingfilm, put it in her knickers and delivered it to her boyfriend during visiting hours when guards were looking the other way.
Following that encounter, Kerry was led to reassess what she wanted to do with her career.
She said: “It was time for me to take a break from frontline forensic psychology — from the sex offenders and all the disillusionment I felt with the system that I had seen failing for so long.
“I decided I would go to work in women’s mainstream mental health services, where maybe I could help vulnerable women like Lucy.”