Top 10 Most Dangerous People Held At Wormwood Scrubs Prison

From the deadly Ian Brady to the infamous Dennis Nilsen, today we look at the Top 10 most dangerous prisoners ever held inside London’s Wormwood Scrubs Prison.

10 – Ian Brady

Kicking our list off with one of the most infamous people to ever grace the British prison system, Ian Brady committed unspeakable crimes against children in the 1960’s.

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Considered to be some of the most appalling series of crimes ever committed in England, Brady and his accomplice Myra Hindley murdered five children in what became known as The Moors Murders.

Having kidnapped the victims from various parts of England, most were taken to the killers home and later buried on the moors in shallow graves.

Brady spent 19 years in various prisons around the country, including Wormwood Scrubs and was mainly kept in solitary confinement due to his dangerous nature.

He was diagnosed as a psychopath in 1985 and confined in the high-security Ashworth Hospital having received the three life sentences for murder at trial.

Brady was described by the trial judge as a sadistic killer of the utmost depravity and he made it clear that only a whole life order would satisfy the public.

He had stated over the years that he never wished to be released and he died of restrictive pulmonary disease at Ashworth Hospital in May 2017, having received end-of-life care.

9 – Charles Bronson

Once dubbed Britain’s most notorious prisoner, Charles Bronson has spent much of his life inside the UK prison system.

Currently named Charles Salvador, he was initially sentenced for seven years for armed robbery and that was increased to 13 years thanks to his antics on the prison wings.

Constant attacks on prison guards and rooftop protests saw him sentenced to further and further stints in prison.

Once rumoured to have bent metal cell doors with his bare hands, he took up bare-knuckle boxing and was never one to shy away from a fight.

One of the most famous acts of rebellion against the system came in the year 2000 when Bronson held his art teacher captive for two days and received a life sentence as a result.

Transferred from Albany prison on the Isle of Wight to Wormwood Scrubs after punching an inmate his the very first day, Bronson only spent two weeks at the prison, much to the delight of the governor, whom he tried to strangle.

Bronson is still in prison today and had the UK’s first public parole hearing in April 2023.

8 – Morris Cohen

Known by his alias Peter Kroger, Cohen was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in Europe during the mid 1940’s.

Discharged from the Army in November 1945, he returned to the United States where he resumed his espionage work for the Soviet Union, having been turned by the soviets in 1938.

Famous for successfully delivering detailed blueprints on the nuclear bomb to Moscow in 1945, Cohen was active in many foreign missions across multiple western countries.

Having settled in London in 1954, he had numerous pieces of hidden equipment for espionage around his home and even had an antenna looping around his attic for Moscow communication.

Arrested on January 7, 1961, their soviet network became known as the Portland Spy Ring that had penetrated deep into the Royal Navy.

Convicted of espionage for the Soviet Union and sentenced to 10 years in Wormwood Scrubs, Cohen was later exchanged for Gerald Brooke, a British subject held in the Soviet Union.

So detailed was Cohen’s activity that MI5 even found espionage equipment hidden inside an oversized Ronson cigarette lighter.

7 – George Blake

The second British Intelligence agent, turned soviet spy to feature on our list, George Blake turned away from MI6 in 1950, having seen the devastation that North Korea suffered during the Korean war as a P.O.W.

Originally posted to gain intelligence on the communist North, he became tempted by the nature of communism after studying Russian Languages at Cambridge.

He fell under suspicion of the allies in 1961 and was arrested on his return to London, having been summoned from Lebanon.

He stated that he had switched sides of his own accord and stated that he had not been tortured by the North Korean’s.

Charged and later found guilty of three counts of spying for a potential enemy, he received 14 years consecutively for each count and another 14 years concurrently fr two more charges, totalling 42 years.

At the time, this was the longest non-life sentence ever handed down by a British court and was said to represent 1 year for each agent killed as a result of his actions, although this was denied by government.

After five years inside Wormwood Scrubs, Blake escaped the prison thanks to the help of three men he met while serving time.

Smuggled across the English Channel in a camper van, Blake escaped to Moscow after travelling through West Germany to the East.

6 – Peter Samuel Cook

Captured after one of the largest manhunts in British History, Peter Cook was nicknamed both The Cambridge Rapist and The Hooded Rapist.

He had a massive criminal record and had been locked up numerous times during his career of crime which included burglary, escaping so many times he became known as one of Britain’s most wanted escapees.

Cook was apprehended while escaping from the scene of a crime, wearing a blonde wig and a mask stitched together from an old shopping bag.

Working as a pizza delivery driver during his crime spree, Cook was convicted of six rapes in 1976 and was also convicted of wounding two other women and committing an act of gross indecency on another.

After receiving two life sentences, the trial judge recommended he should spend the rest of his life in jail.

He spent a number of years in Wormwood Scrubs, however, was transferred to Winchester Prison where he died in January 2004.

Did You Know?

Wormwood Scrubs prison was also of great importance during World War 2 when part of the prison was evacuated so that MI5, the world-famous British intelligence agency, could establish its headquarters there in the first year of the war.

5 – Konon Molody

Known in the west as Gordon Arnold Lonsdale, this Soviet intelligence officer posed as a Canadian businessman during the cold war.

Revealed to be the mastermind of the Portland Spy Ring, a group of spies active in Britain during the Cold War, he was recruited by the MGB in 1951.

After 3 years in Canada, he moved to London, where he enrolled at the University School of Oriental and African Studies.

He had numerous female friends in the city and used many businesses to cover his illegal work in the capitol, including one that sold Jukeboxes.

Molody, posing as Lonsdale was arrested on the Waterloo Bridge in 1961, minutes after being handed classified information from another Portland spy ring member.

He was later charged with spying even though British authorities were still unsure as to exactly who he was.

Found guilty, he was sentenced to 25-years in prison and started his sentence at Wilson Green Prison, Birmingham but was later held at Wormwood Scrubs.

He was later exchanged in a prisoner swap with Greville Wynne, a British Businessman who had been accused of spying in Moscow.

4 – Donald Neilson

Said to have had a very unhappy childhood, Donald Neilson received his first police caution for shop-breaking in 1948.

During the early days of his crime spree, he committed over 400 house burglaries without detection and was originally nicknamed “The Phantom”.

After stealing from houses bought in little profits, he upped his criminal activity and began robbing post offices, now thought to be 18 in total.

After robbing a post-office in a job-gone-wrong, he then went on to commit his first three murders in 1974 with the murder of Derek Astin in Baxenden being so quick, it earned him the nickname “Black Panther”.

It was in 1975 when he committed his fourth and final murder of 17-year old Lesley Whittle, the daughter of noted coach owner George Whittle and his wife.

He was captured in 1975 after walking passed a police car and averting his face, later pulling a sawn off shotgun on the officers who had asked to question him.

He was arrested after both police officers managed to overpower him outside a chip-shop with the help of several members of the public.

He received five life sentences after the killings and received a further 61 years for kidnap and burglary, resulting in a whole life tariff being imposed.

Its not exactly clear when he was held at Wormwood scrubs, possibly during trial, however he died after a substantial stay in Norwich Prison in 2011.

3 – Ronald Kray

One part of the famous Kray Twins, one of Britain’s most notorious gangster family’s, Ronald Kray was nicknamed “The Colonel”.

The gang, known as “The Firm”, was responsible for a number of armed robberies, arson, protection rackets assaults and murder.

Mixing with politicians, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and even Diana Dors, Ronald also co-owned several West-End nightclubs and was even interviewed on television.

His crimes were exposed, however, after police raided his mothers home and his alliance with the American Mafia was revealed among other crimes.

Having employed someone to buy explosives for a car bomb in 1968, Scotland yard decided to arrest the pair on evidence collected over a number of years.

Ronald was sentenced to life imprisonment after a long trial and his non-parole period was not less than 30 years.

Such was the public demand to attend the trial, a black market for seats emerged with some going for at least £5 per day.

Ronald was denied all liberties in prison and was not allowed to mix with other prisoners and later certified insane with paranoid schizophrenia, being moved for the rest of his live to Broadmoor Hospital.

Today, the Kray legend lives on with Ronald once describing himself as untouchable within London.

2 – Reginald Kray

The second half of the famous crime duo, The Kray Twins, Reginald Kray was born in Hoxton, London in 1933.

After winning several boxing tournaments and attending national service, a dishonourable discharge ended this part of his career.

His influence in London grew as he, along with his brother, acquired a series of nightclubs and adopted the “celebrity lifestyle”.

He reportedly helped Frank Mitchell, “The Mad Axeman”, escape from Dartmoor prison after serving time with him at Wandsworth.

His downfall came in 1967 when he murdered Jack “The Hat” McVitie, a murder that was encouraged by his brother Ronnie.

During his incarceration, Reggie Kray became a born-again Christian and spent time at Wormwood although much of his prison life was spent at Weyland Prison.

After being released from prison on compassionate grounds aged 66 on 1st October 2000, he passed away from bladder cancer and was buried next to his brother.

1 – Dennis Nilsen

Scottish serial killer and necrophile, Nilsen has to be one of the most dangerous people to have ever been locked up at Wormwood Scrubs Prison.

Convicted at the Old Bailey of six counts of murder and two of attempted murder, Nilsen was sentenced to life imprisonment on 4 November 1983.

He was attacked at wormwood by an inmate named Albert Moffatt, resulting in injuries requiring eighty-nine stitches in December 1983, that led to his transfer to HMP Parkhurst, before being transferred to HMP Wakefield.

He received a whole life tariff in December 1994 and in his later years, was imprisoned at HMP Full Sutton maximum security prison.

Nilsen became known as the Muswell Hill Murderer, as he committed his later murders in the Muswell Hill district of North London.

He died at York Hospital on 12 May 2018 of a pulmonary embolism, which occurred following surgery to repair an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

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