A “disgruntled” man from Liverpool smuggled a camera into a high-security psychiatric hospital in a bid to sell photos of notorious serial killer Ian Brady to the News of the World for £50,000, a court has heard.
Alan Hagan, 48, is on trial at the Old Bailey over his dealings with News of the World (NotW) crime reporter Lucy Panton in 2008 while he worked at Ashworth Hospital in Merseyside.
He was allegedly paid £1,000 for a story headlined “Suicide Brady hid pills in his sock” in February of that year, just a month after he first made contact with Ms Panton.
The pair went on to hatch a subterfuge nicknamed “The Project” to smuggle in a camera to take pictures and video of the ageing Moors Murderer – the first since his mugshot was released in 1966.
The court heard Hagan, who wanted to take “revenge” on bosses for his treatment, discussed payment of £50,000 for the shots.
Hagan, of Galston Close, Liverpool, denies the charge of misconduct in a public office.
Even though he did manage to smuggle a camera into Ashworth Hospital, the resulting pictures were not good enough quality and they were not published, jurors were told.
Prosecutor Mark Trafford QC told jurors that Brady was a 77-year-old patient at Ashworth who had become notorious for committing the Moors Murders with Myra Hindley, who is now dead.
Between 1963 and 1965 they murdered children on the moors around Manchester.
They were tried in 1966 and were described as “two sadistic killers of the utmost depravity” when they were sentenced to life imprisonment.
The case has stayed in the public’s consciousness over the following years as attempts were made to find the graves of the children, the prosecutor said.
Mr Trafford told jurors: “Their crimes vividly live on. The public disgust and horror of what these two people did has never and will never, of course, go away and nor, you may think, should it.
“But this case is not about what they did and what we think of them, or think of Ian Brady and what he did.
“You may well feel he is not worthy of any protection of anything anywhere. You may well think that he is beyond contempt, and you would not be blamed for that.
“But, as even Winston Churchill himself said, one of the ways we judge our society is how we look after our prisoners.”
In April 2008, an attempt by Hagan to smuggle a camera into the hospital inside a belt failed, the court heard.
Then in August, Ms Panton emailed her boss about meeting her Brady contact in Liverpool, telling him: “Meet Friday, it looks like there will be an opportunity to get the project back on.”
By October, Hagan had a new piece of kit enabling him to take pictures and video inside the secure hospital. But they were not good enough quality for the newspaper, the jury was told.
Mr Trafford said Hagan first approached the NotW because he was “disgruntled” with his employer and believed he had been “badly treated” by management.
He said: “His revenge, and his road to seek large sums of money, was to seek to sell pictures to the media. He had the position and the opportunity.
“He had seen and worked near people whose faces, whose crimes and whose past were known to many members of the public.
“He knew that such an action was not just forbidden, as you can well imagine, but was something that, the Crown say, was quite obvious to anybody who worked in or around the secure hospital system, an act that went to the very heart of the system and helped undermine all efforts to run such a system.”