Graham Young | The Teacup Poisoner

| On
June 15, 2019

Graham Frederick Young was an English serial killer that used poisons to kill his victims. He used poison on his family, friends, work colleagues and even his fellow inmates. He was known as The Teacup Poisoner or the St. Albans Poisoner.


Childhood


Graham Young was born in September 1947 in Middlesex to Fred and Bessie Young. His mother died of tuberculosis months after his birth. While his father mourned he stayed with his aunt and his sister Winifred went to their grandparents. When his father remarried in 1950 he was reunited with his family and introduced to his stepmother Molly.

He became fascinated with Hitler, Nazism and the occult. He allegedly sacrificed a cat in one of his rituals. At 13 years old he took a great interest in poisons and what they did to the human body. He started practising his skills at 14 years old on his family and students at his school. He even poisoned himself by accident when he forgot which teacups he had laced with poison.

Image credit: German Federal Archive (Deutsches Bundesarchiv) / Wikimedia Commons
He convinced local chemists that he was 17 years old so he could get his hands on antimony, digitalis, arsenic and thallium for his tests. His family fell ill suddenly and suffered from painful symptoms. It was thought to be a mystery bug that was spreading as Young's friends had the same symptoms. 

Young's sister became sick after she drank tea her brother made for her.  His father confronted him saying he was careless with his chemistry set, but Young tried to blame his sister for using the teacups to make shampoo. His father knew about his son's hobby and told him to be careful with the chemicals. He never believed he was intentionally harming his sister.

The advice fell on deaf ears and in 1962 Young's stepmother passed away from poisoning. Not long after that, his father was in hospital very close to death himself and diagnosed with antimony poisoning.

After hearing about this, Young's chemistry teacher found suspicious books and vials of poison in his school desk and reported it to the police. He admitted to poisoning his father, sister and school friend.

Young was detained at Broadmoor Hospital for the Criminally Insane at the age of 14, the youngest inmate since 1885. While at Broadmoor he continued his experiments but this time he used the inmates and the staff. It was rumoured that he killed an inmate called John Berridge with cyanide that he extracted from laurel bush leaves. He hid his continued study of poison so well that he was released in 1970 and allegedly said he was "going to kill one person for every year he spent there".

Life After Broadmoor Hospital


When he was released he lived at a hostel and would visit his old home town to see the reactions of the neighbours. Not long after he gathered his supplies once again and started his experiments on fellow residents.

He got a job with a photographic laboratory and continued his experiments there. He would make tea and coffee for his colleagues regularly, and when they started to experience cramping and dizziness they thought it was a bug going around locally.


His boss Bob Egle was the first to be killed by Young in July 1971, and his colleague Fred Biggs was the second in September 1971. Biggs took longer to die that Egle, which frustrated Young.

After the 2 deaths, the company became concerned and sent a doctor to the site to speak to them and reassure them everything was safe. However, this is where Young's downfall begins.

He asked the doctor questions and asked him why thallium poisoning was not considered. The doctor noticed that Young had extensive knowledge of poisons and notified the management who then reported this to the police.

When the police started searching they found his collection of poisons and his journal with all the details about his experiments, such as the dosings and the symptoms he observed.

The Trial


Young was put on trial in June 1972 at St. Albans Crown Court. He was charged with 2 counts of murder, 2 counts of attempted murder, and 2 counts of administering the poison. He denied any involvements and said the entries in his journal was for a novel he was drafting. 

He loved the attention he got from the media but disliked his nickname The Teacup Poisoner.

Ian Brady with Myra Hindley. Image credit: Ninian Reid @ Flickr

He was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in Parkhurst a maximum security prison. This is where he met and became friends with Ian Brady the Moors Murderer. They would play chess and bond over Nazi Germany.

He died at the age of 42 in August 1990. His cause of death is recorded as a heart attack, but it is believed he was poisoned by another inmate or he may have poisoned himself.

Young never showed remorse and when he was asked he said:

"What I feel is the emptiness of my soul"


Final Thoughts


It is clear there was no stopping Graham from conducting these experiments, in or out of Broadmoor Hospital. It's a shame that 3 people lost their lives as a result of his obsession.

He seemed to enjoy being feared by the public, but he hated the nickname he was given. I'm glad he got caught and it was his obsession and ego that made it happen.

I think that the staff at Broadmoor could've been more observant, and I am shocked he got released after saying he was going to kill again.

Do you think this could have been avoided? What are your thoughts? Please share them in the comments. 
29 comments on "Graham Young | The Teacup Poisoner"
  1. Another interesting post. I’m not sure that anything could have stopped Graham from poisoning others. He was bold and resourceful enough to poison people even while he was imprisoned. Unbelievable. Thanks for the free entertainment!

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    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting! :)

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  2. They definitely shouldn't have released him in the first place, or at least should have had someone keeping tabs on him. This story makes me not want to let other people make my coffee!

    Ash | thisdreamsalive.wordpress.com

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    1. Haha I know what you mean! I think they probably had no idea he was so resourceful and able to extract it like he did. He was clearly not ready to be released though. Thank you for commenting! :)

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  3. I'm curious how they found out he was still poisoning people while in Broadmoor? Did they find out during his stay or did this come out after? If they found out during, he really should not have been released again and had a better watch over him!

    Renee @ Maritime Mama

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    1. I am not sure, but he would read a lot of medical books while in Broadmoor. He was clearly not ready for release though! Thank you for commenting! :)

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  4. Your posts are always fascinating...macabre to be sure, but fascinating!

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    1. Thank you very much! I really appreciate you reading and commenting. :)

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  5. What an interesting read! Graham was truly an awful guy, the clear definition of a psychopath.If only psychiatric help was well advanced during his time, much of these catastrophic deaths could have beeen avoided.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting! :)

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  6. I can't believe they just released him and didn't even follow him around. Always love reading your posts!

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  7. They released him? Love these posts! Such an interesting read x

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  8. This was a read that keeps you gripped to your seats, a thriller indeed!
    Thanks for this interesting blog, definitely waiting for the next one!

    ~ Manasi, author of http://truthfulfallacies.com/
    Kindly return the favor :)
    You can find me at @manasi6v on Twitter :)

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    1. Thank you so much! I am glad you enjoyed and I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I have commented back on your blog! :)

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  9. I think, from memory, it was around 1970 that they started deciding against long term institutionalisation and maybe that's why/how he got released. Perhaps the staff thought he was delusional and not really poisoning anyone or going to do it.
    You know, the way psychiatrists decide that if you talk about suicide then you won't actually attempt suicide.

    I'm always weirdly jealous that many serial killers seem to find friends in prison XD

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    1. Oh I never knew that! You're probably right about that though. Maybe they thought he wouldn't poison anyone else. Haha, they do seem to find friends and I struggle! Thank you so much for commenting! x

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  10. From your article, which is great by the way, he wanted to get caught. He wanted the publicity.
    Wonder what mental health illness he'd be diagnosed with today?

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    1. I would say that most killers want to be caught and get the publicity. He definitely loved how people reacted to him. I believe he was diagnosed with a personality disorder and schizophrenia. Thank you so much for commenting! :)

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  11. This is so interesting, and I think particularly so because he seemed to conduct everything very scientifically. There doesn't seem to be any anger or revenge going on (well I suppose maybe after Broadmoor), mainly cool observation and experimentation. I wonder if he saw the people he experimented on as people, or just as tools. Quite chilling how he found common ground with Ian Brady over their shared Nazi fascination.

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    1. Yeah! I agree with you completely. I wonder if he even understood what he was doing to all of those people with his experiments. Thank you so much for commenting! :)

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  12. Ooof what a creep! There's something about poisoning to me that's so...slick and creepy. People trusted him to make them a cup of tea, something so simple, and they had NO idea he was killing them. Plus the whole Nazi fascination and the murdering a cat thing- no no no. It's amazing how big his ego was and that he wanted attention- and yet had hated his nickname. So ironic!

    Excellent blog post! I honestly just love your blog! I'm obsessed with everything macabre and dark, so reading your blog is just wonderful! <3

    xo Emily

    https://www.thatweirdgirllife.com

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    1. Thank you so much! I am so glad you enjoy reading my blog! :) He really was a creepy guy, and the photographs of him make me uncomfortable (I couldn't use any for copyright reasons). Thank you for taking time to read and comment! x

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  13. I studied Nazi Germany all the way to degree level and I find it so interesting that people don't truly realise how influential extremist regimes can be on people even after the regime has collapsed, and how easy it is for them to spring up. I am also surprised that he was released, but allowed to work in a position where he would serve food and drinks to visitors - surely something he should not have ever been allowed to do!

    Ellyn x | Life Of A Beauty Nerd

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    1. I have to admit I do not know much about extremist regimes, but even today you see young people attracted to neo-Nazism. Considering he poisoned tea before he went to Broadmoor you'd think he wouldn't be able to work in an environment where he would prepare drinks. It's baffling! Thank you so much for commenting!

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  14. Wow, this is very interesting, and a very captivating read. You really include all of the relevant information very factually while still keeping the attention, which I love! On the note of the Teacup Poisoner, it's pretty terrifying that he was able to get away with so many deaths, including his own family. I can only imagine how terrifying it would be to learn that your own brother tried to kill you, or your own child. And then, a coworker at a photography lab. Wow, it's hard to believe. I'm glad he got the justice he deserved, although too late. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Aww, thank you so much! I am really glad you enjoyed my post! :) The fact he would experiment on anyone whenever he got the chance scares me. I am glad he got caught but it's a shame people lost their lives before they got him. Thank you for commenting!

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  15. Wow. What a monster. I can't think of another murderer as tenacious as he was. Even after he was caught, it didn't stop him from continuing to poison people. And he wasn't even discrete about it. Really interesting read.

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  16. Yassssssss! So well written with all the details. Have you considered doing a podcast? Going to subscribe and binge of the rest this evening. Thanks

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  17. I agree! A podcast would make this extra chilling!

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