Patrick Mackay

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Patrick Mackay
Patrick Mackay.jpg
Patrick David Mackay

(1952-09-25) 25 September 1952 (age 69)
Middlesex, England, UK[1]
Other namesThe Psychopath
The Devil's Disciple
Height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Criminal penaltyLife imprisonment (20 year minimum term)
Span of crimes
February 1974–March 1975
CountryUnited Kingdom
Date apprehended
March 1975

David Groves,[2] better known by his original name Patrick David Mackay (born 25 September 1952), is a British serial killer who confessed to murdering 13 people across London, Essex and Kent in England between 1973 and 1975.[3][4] He was only convicted for 3 murders, although two further cases were left to lie on file and police later found proof that he had killed one of these victims.

Officially diagnosed as a psychopath, Mackay has been repeatedly denied parole since 1995 on the basis that he is considered too dangerous for release, although in recent years has been imprisoned in open prison conditions with day release provisions.[2] In 2019, police launched fresh inquiries into his suspected murders, but were unable to find sufficient evidence.[2]

Early life[edit]

Patrick Mackay was born at Park Royal Hospital, now known as Central Middlesex Hospital in London. His father was Harold Mackay, a Scottish accountant, and his mother, Marion Mackay, a woman of creole descent from Guyana.

As a child, Mackay was a frequent victim of physical abuse at the hands of Harold. When Mackay was 10, Harold died from a heart attack on his way to work – the result of complications of alcoholism and a weak heart. His last words to his son were 'remember to be good'.[5]

Patrick was said to be unable to come to terms with the loss of his father, telling people Harold was still alive and keeping a photograph of him on his person. He refused to attend the funeral in Scotland and later assumed the role of 'father figure' within the family and beating his mother and two sisters. His mother Marion eventually moved the family from Dartford to Gravesend, but family life did not improve and the police were called to the home as frequently as four times a week. Mackay was removed from his family home on 18 occasions between the ages of 12 and 22, and put into various specialist schools, institutions and prisons. During this time, both a police officer and teacher predicted that Mackay would go on to kill.[citation needed]

Mackay was prone to extreme tantrums and fits of anger, and indulged in animal cruelty and arson (at one point setting his pet tortoise on fire). He bullied younger children, stole from elderly women's homes and from people in the street, and even attempted to kill his mother and aunt. He also attempted to kill a younger boy, and later said he would have succeeded had he not been restrained.[6] He also attempted to set fire to a Catholic church. At 15, he was diagnosed as a psychopath by a psychiatrist, Dr. Leonard Carr, who predicted Mackay would grow up to be a "cold, psychopathic killer."[6] In October 1968, he was committed to Moss Side Hospital, Liverpool as a diagnosed psychopath. He was released in 1972.[7]

Adulthood and murders[edit]

As he entered adulthood, Mackay developed a fascination with Nazism, calling himself "Franklin Bollvolt the First" and filling his flat with Nazi memorabilia. He lived in London and was frequently drunk or on drugs. In 1973, near his mother's home in Kent, he met and was befriended by a priest, Father Anthony Crean.[8] Despite this friendship, Mackay broke into Crean's home and stole a cheque for £30. Although Crean tried to persuade the police not to, Mackay was arrested and prosecuted. He was subsequently ordered to pay compensation, but never did. The incident caused a rift between the two and Mackay returned to London.[9] It was around this time, Mackay later claimed, that he had drowned a tramp in the River Thames.

On 21 March 1975, then aged 22, Mackay used an axe to kill Father Crean at the priest's home in the village of Shorne, hacking through the victim's skull and watching him bleed to death. He was swiftly arrested after a police officer recalled the incident between Father Crean and Mackay 18 months earlier. Mackay was soon considered by police to be a suspect in at least a dozen other killings over the previous two years, most victims being elderly women who had been stabbed or strangled during robberies.


After his arrest, Mackay willingly confessed to police to have murdered a total 13 people.[3] In interviews with police, he told officers "we should start at the beginning" and said that his first murder had been of 17-year-old German au pair Heidi Mnilk, who was murdered on 9 July 1973.[3] He said he had thrown her out of the train near Catford after stabbing her.[3] He said that he had killed a drunkened homeless man by throwing him off of bridge into the River Thames in January 1974.[10] Mackay also confessed to the murders of 57-year-old Stephanie Britton and her 4-year-old grandson Christopher Martin on 12 January 1974, saying he had only killed the child as he had seen his grandmother being killed.[3] He confessed also to the murder of Frank Goodman on 13 June 1974, who had been kicked to death over a pack of cigarettes.[3] He went on to confess to the murder of 92-year-old Sarah Rodmell in her flat in Hackney on 23 December 1974, saying that he had nailed the back door shut and put her stockings in her mouth, and that "killing her was as easy as washing my socks".[3] He also confessed to the murder of 48-year old Café owner Ivy Davies in Southend in February 1975, saying he killed her by beating her with a tent peg.[3][11] The three other murders he confessed to were the 1973 murder of Mary Hynes in Kentish Town and the murders of wealthy elderly women Isabella Griffith and Adele Price in 1974 and 1975 respectively.[12]

However, Mackay later retracted his confessions to all but four of the murders (Griffith, Price, Crean and the homeless man he said he had thrown from a bridge in January 1974).[3] This meant that there was insufficient evidence to charge him for more than five murders.[3][12] Police were unable to identify the homeless victim Mackay said he had killed in January 1974.[10]


At his trial in November 1975, Mackay was convicted of the killings of Adele Price, Isabella Griffiths and Father Anthony Crean.[10][3] Due to insufficient evidence he was not convicted of the murders of Goodman or Hynes, but the cases were left to lie on file.[3][10][12][11] Police later proved he had killed Frank Goodman.[3] He was convicted of the manslaughter of Price, Grithiths and Crean (due to diminished responsibility) and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 20 years.[12][10]

Mackay's defence team had pleaded insanity, but medical experts instead concluded that he was a psychopath (a personality disorder and not a mental disorder).[3]

Subsequent developments[edit]

In 1989, he appeared briefly in a BBC documentary "Forty Minutes" episode titled "Danger Men" aired in February 1990. Mackay spent time in Hull Prison, where a special unit was set up to deal with one of the "most dangerous and difficult prisoners" in the country. As Mackay is asked if he considers himself a psychopath, he replies: "There is never any suggestion in my mind that i was ever a psychopath".[13]

Still imprisoned more than 44 years later, he was mistakenly reported to be among more than 50 prisoners in the United Kingdom incarcerated under a whole life tariff and unlikely ever to be released, though in 2019, Mackay was considered for release after reportedly spending time in an open prison. However, the hearing of the Parole Board was postponed amidst a fresh investigation into Mackay's involvement in unsolved murders.[14] In May 2021, with Mackay present in court, the Parole Board announced he would not be eligible for release.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Murder Almanac ISBN 978-1-89778-404-4 p. 113
  2. ^ a b c Leclere, Matt (14 May 2021). "Serial killer Patrick Mackay to remain in prison for murder of Kent catholic priest Anthony Crean in Shorne, near Gravesend in 1975". KentOnline. Retrieved 4 September 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n David Wilson (2014). "First Kill, Last Kill: Patrick Mackay" (TV Documentary). Channel 5. Retrieved 4 September 2021.
  4. ^ "Patrick Mackay Crime Files". Crime+Investigation UK.
  5. ^ Patrick Mackay, psychopathic repeat killer Archived 1 April 2008 at the Wayback MachineCrime Library article part 2
  6. ^ a b Patrick Mackay, psychopathic repeat killer Archived 1 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine – Crime Library article part 4
  7. ^ British maniac Patrick Mackay and the system's Failure
  8. ^ 'Psychopath: The Devil's Disciple', Prof. David Wilson, Documentary, Series 1, Episode 5.
  9. ^ Patrick Mackay, psychopathic repeat killer Archived 1 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine – Crime Library article part 9
  10. ^ a b c d e "Patrick Mackay: The heinous crimes of Kent's forgotten serial killer". KentLive. 7 November 2019. Retrieved 4 September 2021.
  11. ^ a b "The 11 crimes once linked to killer Patrick Mackay". The Sunday Telegraph. 16 June 2019. Retrieved 4 September 2021.
  12. ^ a b c d Cox, Lynn (15 April 2019). "Former DI Ken Tappenden talks about Kent's forgotten serial killer Patrick Mackay". KentOnline. Retrieved 4 September 2021.
  13. ^ "Danger Men". Alexander Street. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
  14. ^ Hunter, Chris (10 June 2020). "Release of serial killer Patrick Mackay delayed amidst fresh investigation". Kent Online. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  15. ^ "Killer denied release for death of Kent priest". Kent Online. 14 May 2021. Retrieved 15 July 2021.