Graham Young was born in Neasden, north London. He was fascinated from a young age by poisons and their effects. In 1961 at 14 he started to test poisons on his family, enough to make them violently ill. He amassed large quantities of antimony and digitalis by repeatedly buying small amounts, lying about his age and claiming they were for science experiments at school.
In 1962 Young’s stepmother, Molly, died from poisoning. He had been poisoning his father, sister, and a school friend. Young’s aunt Winnie, who knew of his fascination with chemistry and poisons, became suspicious. He sometimes suffered the same nausea and sicknesses as his family, forgetting which foods he had laced. He was sent to a psychiatrist, who recommended contacting the police. Young was arrested on 23 May 1962, confessing to the attempted murders of his father, sister, and friend. The remains of his stepmother could not be analysed because she had been cremated.
Young was detained under the Mental Health Act in Broadmoor Hospital, a special hospital for mentally disordered offenders. His detention was subject to a restriction meaning that subsequent discharge, leave of absence etc. would have to be approved by the Home Secretary. Moreover, the Hospital Order initially stipulated that he should be detained for at least 15 years. He was released after nine years, deemed “fully recovered”. In the hospital, Young studied medical texts, improving his knowledge of poisons, and continued experiments using inmates and staff. After a 9 year period he was released into the Community but a short time later he poisoned colleagues at his workplace. After ensuing public concern the Aavold Committee was set up in 1972 under the chair of Sir Carl Aarvold to examine the way dangerous offenders were assessed before discharge from special hospitals. The recommendations were adopted. Those patients who are deemed to be a risk to the public can be referred to the Aarvold Board by the Secretary of State for an opinion.