When Young left Broadmoor on Thursday, 8 February 1971, he went first to spend the weekend at his sister's home. Winifred was the only person in the outside world to whom he could turn. His father had retired and moved to
Sheerness to live with his sister and her husband Jack, and they had had no communication with Graham for many years. Nor did they want anything to do with him now.
The following week Young turned up at the Government Training Centre in Slough, where he began a three month course in storekeeping. This was well within his capabilities: at Broadmoor he had spent some of his time studying and had managed to pass some of the standard school examinations of the day. While at Slough he lived at a hostel in Chippenham about six miles away, and there he became friendly with 34-year-old Trevor Sparkes. Why he poisoned Trevor is something of a mystery, and at the second trial he was actually acquitted of this crime, although he later admitted to giving him antimony sodium tartrate.
Sparkes's trouble began on the evening of Wednesday, 10 February when he had a conversation with Young, who gave him a glass of water. During the night he was violently sick and had diarrhoea, which persisted for four days, accompanied by pains in his testicles. When he next played football the following Saturday he was still unwell and after a few minutes of play he had to leave the field. About six weeks after this incident Sparkes spent an evening with Young and drank some wine, after which he was again very ill. He went on Thursday, 8 April to see his doctor who diagnosed a urinary infection. Luckily Sparkes left Slough on Friday, 30 April and never saw Young again until his trial 15 months later. However, his troubles persisted throughout the summer of that year: he was twice examined in hospital where he was treated for strain and muscular troubles, and it was not until the autumn of that year that he began to recover.
If Young had given Sparkes antimony potassium tartrate in a glass of wine where had he got it from? His first attempt to purchase this poison was made on Saturday, 17 April, more than nine weeks after Sparkes's first bout of sickness and over a week after his second bout. The pharmacist Albert Kearne who worked at the London chemists of John Bell & Croyden's of Wigmore Street refused to let him have any without written authority. The following Saturday Young returned with a handwritten note on Bedford College notepaper requesting 25 g of antimony potassium tartrate. When asked what it was needed for he replied that he was carrying out qualitative and quantitative analyses, and indeed there are legitimate uses to which this compound can be put. He was sold it as he appeared to be a bona fide research student of that college, which was part of London University and only a short distance from Wigmore Street. Young returned on Wednesday, 5 May to purchase more antimony potassium tartrate and in addition some thallium acetate. By then Young had secured a job as an assistant storekeeper and he left Slough on the following Saturday.
Although it has been claimed that several residents of the hostel where he had been staying went down with a stomach upsets during Young's stay there, it may have been a genuine infection rather than poison. Alternatively it may had been that Young had obtained antimony sodium tartrate from a local pharmacist who was never identified. Nevertheless, Young certainly had poisons in his possession during his final two weeks at Slough and could conceivably have used them on the residents of the hostel.
During his training at Slough the authorities kept an eye on his progress and he was seen three times by a psychiatrist, who reported that he was readjusting to life in the outside world and his training was progressing satisfactorily. Young had also reported weekly to the local probation officer. On 14 April, he applied for a job as assistant storeman at a firm in Bovingdon, near Hemel Hempstead. He claimed in his letter of application to have studied chemistry and toxicology. The firm was owned by John Hadland and manufactured optical lenses and specialist photographic equipment. On Friday 23 April, Young was interviewed at the firm by the managing director, Mr Godfrey Foster, who naturally enquired about his background and the fact that this was his first job. Young explained that he had had a nervous breakdown following the death of his mother in a car accident. On the following Monday, Young's progress report from Slough, together with his medical report from Dr Edgar Udwin, was sent to Hadland's. This report, dated 15 January 1971, stated that Young has suffered 'a deep going personality disorder . . . he has, however, made an extremely full recovery and is now entirely fit for discharge . . . he is above average intelligence . . . he would fit in well and not draw attention to himself in any community.' The report made no mention of his criminal record or his stay in Broadmoor. Any doubts about Young were allayed and Godfrey Foster offered him the job, at £24/week, starting Monday, 10 May at 8.30 a.m. Young accepted. So it was on the fateful Monday morning that a neatly dressed, quietly spoken, young man was introduced to a group of fellow workers: four of whom he would give thallium acetate to, of whom two would die, and four others he would poison with antimony.
Hadland's was a thriving firm employing 70 people. It had been built up by John Hadland and he had expanded the company by taking over New-house Farm on the edge of a disused wartime airfield at Bovingdon, a village near Hemel Hempstead. The firm had the distinction of producing the Imacon camera, which was capable of taking photographs with an exposure time of a sixty-millionth of a second. It was a strange coincidence that Hadland's was one of the few companies in Britain to use thallium legitimately: this metal imparts a high refractive index to the glass that was used as lenses. Glass containing thallium is harmless because the metal is firmly bonded within the body of the glass. There were no thallium compounds as such in the stores at Hadland's. When Young wanted thallium acetate he had to go to London to purchase it.
Hemel Hempstead was where Winifred lived, and to begin with Young lodged with her. He still had to make weekly visits to the local probation officer, who advised him to become more independent and find a place of his own. This suggestion was welcomed by Young and he soon found the perfect accommodation at 29 Maynard Road, Hemel Hempstead. Here he rented a small bed-sitting room at £4 per week (no cooking allowed) in a house owned by a Mrs Mohammed Saddiq from Pakistan. Young had little contact with her, or with a fellow lodger, but that was what he wanted. He now had his own room which he could decorate with Nazi insignia and in which he could store his collection of poisons. During the next six months he had no visitors to his room, but that was just as he wanted it to be.
To outward appearances, Young led a normal if somewhat lonely bachelor's life. (He appears not to have been gay but was unable to form relationships with women.) He worked five days a week at Hadland's, visited his sister and her family regularly, where he was sure of a good meal; otherwise he ate at a local fast food restaurant. At weekends he sometimes went to St Albans to visit his cousin Sandra, and just occasionally he paid a visit to his father in Sheerness. When visiting St Albans he also went to a local pharmacist where he bought more poison.
Young had one or two odd traits: such as cleaning his teeth every time he ate anything and he carried a toothbrush around with him. He was also fanatical about killing insects. He smoked and drank like most working people but his topics of conversation were a little strange, dwelling as they did on death, war, the Nazis, and the occult. Such was his knowledge of medicine and chemistry that his workmates thought he had failed his exams at a university medical school and that was why he had had to leave. By the end of that May, he had settled in at work and had built up a stock of poisons in his room in Maynard Road and was now ready to strike. His first victim was the head storeman, 59-year-old Bob Egle.
Was this article helpful?