Black Widow spills secrets of life in jail with evil Myra Hindley and Rose West

Dubbed the Black Widow, she is one of Britain’s most ­notorious female killers.

Linda Calvey led an extraordinary life as an armed robber in the East End of London.

Her crimes – which included blasting one of her gangster lovers to death with a shotgun – put her behind bars for more than two decades.

Now Linda, 71, has written a book about her life.

And she revealed what it was like being locked up with Britain’s most evil women Myra Hindley and Rose West.

Hindley was jailed for the rest of her life for torturing and killing five children with lover Ian Brady in the 1960s.

But Linda says the Moors murderer looked more like a “suburban ­housewife” than a monster – sporting pink nail varnish and a flowing kaftan.

Hindley was also terrified of spiders, begging Linda to kill one in her cell.

“She screamed and hid behind me and told me to kill it, saying, ‘You’re the Black Widow,’” said Linda.

“I was amazed that the woman who had killed children could be scared about ending a spider’s life.”

She added: “That’s when I saw she had a locked briefcase under her bed.

“She told me it was her personal ­papers. But we weren’t allowed to keep private documents on the wing.

“I’ve always wanted to know what was in that case.”

Linda got to know Hindley after she was asked to be her hairdresser at Highpoint prison in Suffolk.

“She was fussy about her hair as that was the only control she had left,” said Linda.

“She liked it dyed a dark shade of red once a month.

“And twice a week I had to wash it. She would sit there and chain smoke roll-ups.”

Hindley told her mother Linda was her friend and asked her fellow lag to chat to the old woman on the phone.

Linda said: “She phoned her mum to say she had a lovely friend.

“I would think, ‘I’m not your friend’. I was only there as I was forced to do her hair.

“She asked me to speak to her on the phone and I did every Sunday.

“I felt sorry for her having a ­daughter like that.”

Linda claimed Hindley spent her last days resenting the mothers of her victims.

“She was very bitter about ­being in prison and believed she shouldn’t be.

"She was especially bitter towards Lesley Anne Downey’s mum and called her ‘that bloody woman’.

“She didn’t speak about her crimes except once when she said Brady forced her to do it.”

Linda first rubbed shoulders with the child killer at Cookham Wood prison in Kent when she got three-and-a-half years for armed robbery.

She said: “I worked in the library and she would take out violent and gory books that were banned to her under other people’s names.”

It wasn’t until Linda was jailed for the murder of her gangland lover Ronnie Cook in 1990 that she saw Hindley again – with pal Rose West.

West got life in 1995 for helping her husband Fred rape and murder ten youngsters at their home in Cromwell Street, Gloucester.

“I was in Durham prison,” said Linda. “And Myra and Rose were both there too.

“They used to sit ­together and became very pally but then suddenly they stopped talking. I think Rose’s solicitor told her it doesn’t look good.”

Linda described how West would fly into rages over the most bizarre things.

“I saw her go into a rant once and it looked like toothpaste coming out of her mouth,” she said. “She was foaming like a mad person.

“She was upset about a drink driver who ran over a cyclist.

“We were in a debating class where they look through the papers and get us to discuss something.

“She kept screaming, ‘It’s disgusting, his poor family.’”

“She also got upset when her cell was set on fire and it nearly killed her budgie. She went to pieces.

“She was sobbing over this little bird, begging them not to let it die.”

Linda said: “She was so angry at Fred for hanging himself. We all heard the boys chanting next door ‘Fred is dead’ and she was the only one who didn’t know what it meant at the time.”

During her stretch Linda began a macabre collection of odds and ends the killers made or gave to her.

She bought a cushion crafted by West. And Hindley gave her a nightie, a cardigan, some Christmas cards and an empty heart-shaped box.

Hindley’s death aged 60 in 2002 – after 36 years ­behind bars – meant Linda was the country’s longest-serving female jailbird.

She eventually served more than 18 years for shooting lover Cook after refusing to confess.

Linda told how she was proposed to by gang boss Reggie Kray and caged armed robber Charles Bronson.


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