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'Devil's Disciple' serial killer wanders the streets on day release

‘Devil’s Disciple’ serial killer, 70, who was jailed for killing three people and admitting to eight murders before retracting his ‘confessions’ wanders the streets on day release – just days after being denied parole for taking drugs in open prison

  • Patrick Mackay, 70, was seen out and about on the streets on day release  
  • Read more: Britain’s ‘forgotten’ serial killer Patrick Mackay faces parole board 

A serial killer who was once deemed too dangerous to ever be released from prison has been seen walking through a bus station. 

Patrick Mackay, 70, who was nicknamed the ‘Devil’s Disciple’ has been seen out on day release from HMP Leyhill, an open prison in Gloucestershire. 

Sporting a goatee, glasses and a baseball cap, he wore what appeared to be a prison-issued pair of tracksuit bottoms as he enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the city centre bus station.

Mackay, who now goes by David Groves, has spent 47 years in prison for three killings but previously admitted to eight more before retracting his confessions – and was recently grilled by the parole board before being refused parole for taking drugs in prison.  

He split open the head of Catholic priest Anthony Crean with an axe in March 1975 and is considered to be Britain’s longest-serving prisoner. 

‘Devil’s Disciple’ serial killer Patrick Mackay (pictured) will be grilled in a parole hearing about eight murders he initially confessed to but later retracted before it is decided if he should be freed

Daily Mail front page November 1975

The son of one victim, Vic Davies, 67, said: ‘It doesn’t make sense. There is clearly a desire to get him out of prison and it’s a massive gamble.’ 

Gareth Johnson, MP for Dartford in Kent, where the notorious criminal is originally from, told The Sun that he was still young enough to kill again.

Mackay was born in 1952 and raised in an abusive household where he was regularly beaten by his alcoholic father.

At a young age he started committing criminal acts including arson, animal cruelty, and theft of garden gnomes.

Medical professionals identified that Mackay had psychopathic tendencies and he was sectioned at the age of 16. He was then released four years later.

After his release, Mackay developed a fascination with Nazism and started calling himself ‘Franklin Bollvolt the First’. He filled his flat with Nazi memorabilia.

Mackay’s first identified victim was 87-year-old frail widow Isabella Griffith. He befriended the pensioner before strangling and stabbing at her home in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea in 1974.

Thirteen months later, he killed Adele Price at her home in Lowndes Square, Kensington. Having entered the property after asking Ms Price for a glass of water, Mackay then passed her granddaughter on the way out without knowing.

Mackay then killed Father Anthony Crean in a frenzied attack using his fists, a knife and an axe in the village of Shorne, Kent, near the home of his own mother. The 63-year-old priest’s mutilated body was left floating in a bath full of bloody water.

The serial killer was arrested two days later after a police officer remembered a previous incident that occurred some months earlier in which Mackay was arrested for stealing a £30 check from the priest. As with Ms Griffith, he befriended Father Anthony before breaking into his home.

Mackay killed Father Anthony Crean (pictured) in a frenzied attack using his fists, a knife and an axe in the village of Shorne, Kent

Murder victims Stephanie Britton (left) and her four-year-old grandson Christopher Martin (right). Mackay admitted to killing them before retracting his confession


Grandmother Adele Price, 89 (left), was strangled in Kensington, and widow Isabella Griffiths (right), 87, was murdered in Chelsea

Mackay, 70, has spent 47 years in prison for three murders, but previously admitted to eight more

Mackay’s fingerprints were taken upon his arrest and they were found to match the scene at Ms Price’s murder.

Read more: ‘Devil’s Disciple’ serial killer, 70, who was jailed for killing three people and admitting to eight murders before retracting his ‘confessions’ is denied parole after taking drugs in open prison 

The serial killer initially confessed to the three killings, but then told police he had killed eight more dating back to 1973 – many of them unsolved murders.

Mackay said his first murder was 17-year-old German au pair Heidi Mnilk in 1973, who he stabbed on a train and then threw out the door of a tram in South London.

Mackay also admitted to killing an unidentified homeless man by pushing him into the Thames a year later. The body was never found.

He said he killed Stephanie Britton, 57, and her 4-year-old grandson Christopher Martin in January 1974. 

The serial killer then claimed he killed Frank Goodman later that year, saying he kicked him to death. Mackay also claimed he killed Sarah Rodmell, 92, in Hackney in December 1974; cafe owner Ivy Davies, 48, in Southend in 1975; and Mary Hynes in Kentish Town in 1974.

Mackay withdrew the eight confessions before facing trial.

In 1975, he was convicted of the manslaughter of Adele Price, Isabella Griffith and Father Anthony Crean.

Although he was charged with five counts of murder, Mackay’s convictions were only for three counts of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.

The other two cases – the killing of Frank Goodman and Mary Hynes – were allowed to lie on file as there was insufficient evidence.

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