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The case of the twins who one day stopped talking and ended up in a high security psychiatric hospital in England

The case of the twins who one day stopped talking and ended up in a high security psychiatric hospital in England

The case of the twins who one day stopped talking and ended up in a high security psychiatric hospital in England

They inspired a movie, a hit song, became friends with one of London’s most notorious gangsters, and although the Gibbons sisters could talk, for years they only spoke to each other.

At 19, the twins June and Jennifer They also became the youngest female patients in Broadmoorthe most famous high-security psychiatric hospital in the world UKwhich housed criminals such as Charles Bronson and serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, nicknamed the Yorkshire Strangler.

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Now, for the first time, June – the twin who is still alive – has told her story to the BBC, in her own words.

“We had one speech impediment. “Our parents couldn’t understand a word we were saying, no one understood, so we stopped talking,” she told the BBC podcast June: Voice of a Silent Twin.

“So we went ridiculed and intimidated. It was a feeling of despair, of desolation, of seeing ourselves let down by everyone, hated and made to feel horrible.”

“It was almost like a story of horror and mystery and intrigue, ending in tragedy. We were trying all these things to try to get help. We didn’t know how it was going to end.”

The silence

The story began in Yemen, in 1963, where the twins were born. His parents were from Barbados but settled Welsh, because the girls’ father worked for the Royal Air Force.

June, now 60, says they both wanted to join their new rural community, where they were only black family.

June and Jennifer decided to become writers in their teens, so they acquired a typewriter and began reading books by Jane Austen, DH Lawrence and Kingsley Amis.

“I thought, ‘I might be normal,’” June recalls. “But everything disappeared. I must have lost confidence, maybe it was a look, a gesture or someone said something, I just shut up. I’m back to square one.”

Psychologist Tim Thomas helped them. He remembers that the twins suffered harassmentwhat made them turn “electively mute.”

The sisters were separated with the intention that they would integrate and be able to communicate with other people.

One sister was transferred to boarding school and the other stayed closer to home, but June says that I stopped eating and talking with people at that time, so the experiment was abandoned.

Bad companies

After finishing school at age 16, the twins felt more isolated than ever in “their little prison” of their room, and that’s when their story took a turn.

At 18 years old, aspiring writers They felt that their youth was “passing them by” and so they began to spend time with boys who were not good company and whom they knew from school in Wales. That’s what led them to end up at Broadmoor.

“They taught us to sniffing glue, smoking cigarettes and drinking vodka out of the bottle”, remembers June.

The sisters were born in Yemen before moving with their family to Yorkshire, Devon and finally west Wales.  (JUNE GIBBONS).

The sisters were born in Yemen before moving with their family to Yorkshire, Devon and finally west Wales. (JUNE GIBBONS).

“We were both crazy, without help. So, as we became writers, we began to destroy the city… vandalize places

“We broke windows, we set things on fire and we said, ‘Come and get me if you can.’ “We were trying to do things to try to get help.”

Newspapers at the time reported “a five-week crime wave” in which youths set fire to a local tractor shop, broke into a university, and stole supplies.

“(The police) read our diaries and there was our confession, that’s how they caught us,” admits June.

Their parents, Aubrey and Gloria – who are described as “lovely and very hospitable” – had no idea of ​​their daughters’ behavior and the problems they were having with the police.

Going to Broadmoor

When the sisters (who were 19 at the time) were in prison awaiting trial, a psychiatrist assessed them and recommended that they be transferred to Broadmoor Hospital under the Mental Health Act.

“He told us it was a hospital for people like us, who were psychopaths,” June recalls.

‘There’s nothing wrong with me,’ I told myself, but then the psychiatrist told me, ‘There are jobs you can do there, there are parties, clubs.’ And I thought, ‘This is going to be great.'”

Newspapers at the time describe them as

The newspapers of the time described them as the “terrible twins”. (WESTERN TELEGRAPH).

“We were excited about going to Broadmoor. “We were too young to understand.”

At trial, the twins agreed to plead guilty on the advice of their lawyer, but journalist Marjorie Wallace, who reported on the case, recalls that they I omitted important information from the diaries of young women.

There was evidence of arson, but those who tried them “didn’t know that before they set the fire, they had checked to make sure no one was in the building,” Wallace says.

Living among killers

June says they expected a sentence of about six monthsbut the judge committed them to the famous Broadmoor institution for a period indefinite period, based on psychiatric reports.

It was then that they began to share their days with the most dangerous criminals in the United Kingdom.

“My first boyfriend was there for armed robbery,” June notes. “Jennifer’s boyfriend killed two women.”

“I saw the Yorkshire Ripper eating a burger across the field and he seemed to be looking at me. I thought he might get closer so I didn’t want to look at him.”

June Gibbons used to receive Christmas and birthday cards from Ronnie Kray, after they met on Broadmoor.  (GET IMAGES).

June Gibbons used to receive Christmas and birthday cards from Ronnie Kray, after they met on Broadmoor. (GET IMAGES).

June also remembers her encounter with the well-known gangster Ronnie Kray. “He came to my table, took my hand and kissed it, saying, ‘Hi June, I’ve been hearing things about you.’ “We used to get Christmas and birthday cards from Ronnie.”

The former pedophile TV presenter Jimmy Savile He was hired to chair a task force to support the work being done at Broadmoor and was given his own set of keys.

June does not remember her encounter with Savile, who was later revealed to be one of the UK’s most prolific sex offenders, but Marjorie Wallace does.

“He came to our table, looked at the two girls, pointed and said to June ‘I’ll have you first’ and then to Jennifer ‘you’ll be second’,” she says.

“June and Jennifer looked at me in shock and said, ‘and they thought we were the crazy ones.’

While locked up, the twins They continued to write fiction and poetry.

Goodbye to a sister

After years of correspondence with the Ministry of the Interior, the twins were finally transferred to a lower security hospital in 199311 years after joining Broadmoor.

But there was a tragic turn of events for the sisters during the transfer.

The sisters continued writing during confinement.  (JUNE GIBBONS).

The sisters continued writing during confinement. (JUNE GIBBONS).

June thought her sister was joking when she said, “I think I’m going to die soon.” “When we got into the minibus, Jennifer said to me, ‘At least we’re out of Broadmoor now,’” June recalls.

“We had planned to keep talking to people and this time we shouldn’t fight, argue or create problems. We kept telling ourselves ‘let’s be happy’.”

But when they arrived at the Caswell clinic in Bridgend, psychiatrist Tegwyn Williams realized that Jennifer was sick and soon began to get worse.

“We knew from the beginning that it wasn’t a psychiatric condition, but the doctors didn’t know what the problem was either,” says June.

“They couldn’t understand…this young girl who a few hours before had looked so good was slowly dying before their eyes and they couldn’t understand why.”

A subsequent investigation found that Jennifer died of natural causes due to a acute myocarditisan inflammation of the heart muscle.

Music, books and films

In 1994, the surviving twin, June, was released after almost 13 years of being locked. But she still feels the profound impact her experience left on the institutions she visited.

June Gibbons still lives in Wales and has not married or had children.

June Gibbons still lives in Wales and has not married or had children.

“Every day I think about Broadmoor and when I think about Broadmoor, I think about Jennifer,” he says.

“She is still with me after 30 years. Every morning I think I’m in Broadmoor, I wake up in the morning, I hear the keys jingling, it’s still with me to this day.”

June continued to write, while others wrote about her story.

“Tsunami”, the song by the Welsh rock band “Manic Street Preachers” that was successful and was among the 20 best songs of 1999, was inspired by the sisters. And Marjorie Wallace wrote a book based on her experiences called “The Silent Twins.” In 2022, a feature film was made about her story.

June plans to publish more of her writing, including poetry inspired by her sister during some of her most difficult times.

“Every day I wake up and say to myself, one more day for me and one more day for my sister,” he says.I live for her. What I see and do, she also does.”

*Reporting by BBC’s Beccy Leach and Jessica Gunasekara.

Source: Elcomercio

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