Woman has spent £8,000 visiting convicted killers on death row

Woman, 54, has spent £8000 visiting convicted killers on death row including ‘really funny man’ Charles ‘Chucky’ Mamou who murdered two people in 1998 and is awaiting execution by lethal injection in Texas

  • Mary Hardiman, of Cheshire, this year visited Charles ‘Chucky’ Mamou in Texas 
  • Mamou killed two people in 1998 – including 17-year-old Mary Carmouche 
  • Mrs Hardiman said her visits are about ‘finding out who these people really are’
  • She has spent the last four years writing letters to her three pen pals on death row, and is hoping to soon fly to Arkansas to meet her third killer in the flesh

A woman has spent more than £8,000 flying around the world on family holidays to meet convicted killers on death row. 

Mary Hardiman, 54, this year visited Charles ‘Chucky’ Mamou in Texas, where he awaits execution by lethal injection for the killing of two people in 1998. One victim was 17-year-old Mary Carmouche, who prosecutors said was shot after being forced to perform a sex act for Mamou.  

Mrs Hardiman, who visits the maximum security jails in America with husband Hughie, 55, and son Kieran, 20, says she offered to be present when ‘Chucky’ is executed – if he wants.

‘Chucky is a really funny man,’ said Mrs Hardiman, from Stockport, Cheshire. ‘He’s very literate and has educated himself whilst he’s been in prison. 

‘I always found him very inquisitive, he would ask hundreds of questions about me whenever I mentioned something new that he could learn about.

‘Chucky is definitely more than his crime, he claims he is innocent, and I have visited him seven times.’

Mary Hardiman, from Stockport, is pictured here with Charles ‘Chucky’ Mamou, who she says is a ‘really funny man’. He was convicted of killing a woman after a bloody shootout during an apparent botched drug sale

Mrs Hardiman has spent the last four years writing letters to three pen pals on death row

CHARLES ‘CHUCKY’ MAMOU JUNIOR 

Charles Mamou Jr, now 45, was involved in an apparent botched cocaine deal that ended with three deaths along a street near the Houston Astrodome in 1998.

In December that year Mamou and two others arranged a meeting with three men to buy cocaine in a shopping mall car park – but both groups were planning to rob one other, court records reveal.

When the two sides met on Lantern Point Drive, gunfire broke out and three men were shot, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Mamou shot and killed one of the men. A survivor told police Mamou had kidnapped 17-year-old Mary Carmouche, who was with the other group, and fled in a stolen car.

She was later shot after being forced to perform a sex act for Mamou, prosecutors said.

An electric company meter reader found her body in the back garden of an empty house.

Police arrested Mamou in his native Louisiana and he went to trial in 1999.

He was sent to death row aged 24 for abducting, raping and killing Ms Carmouche.

Prosecutor Claire Connors had called Mamou a ‘vicious, ruthless, cold-blooded’ murderer.

Mrs Hardimam has spent the last four years writing letters to her three pen pals on death row, and is hoping to soon fly to Arkansas to meet her third killer – who took the life of his father and stabbed a female prison officer to death – in the flesh.    

She said: ‘It’s about looking past their crimes and finding out who these people really are.

‘I have spent money out of my own pocket to visit the prisoners that I have become friends with.

‘I would usually always opt for a sunny beach holiday but over the last year we have holidayed around notorious prisons.

‘I started writing to these prisoners through a charity four years ago, after I heard about a lifelines charity through a Catholic conference.

‘It’s fair to say that trips like these are not for everyone, but we come back with incredible stories and we think it’s a far more selfless way to spend our time.

‘But we don’t just visit prisons, when we go away we treat it as out holiday and visit the area, so it’s also a holiday in Texas as well as visiting one of my pen pals.’

Most recently Mrs Hardiman started writing to Mamou, but she is also corresponding with a separate inmate in Louisiana, whom she has visited, and is also planning to fly across the pond to meet a third man in Arkansas.

Mrs Hardiman said: ‘I met a second death row inmate in Louisiana, and the man I’m about to go and meet is Arkansas killed his father and stabbed a female prison officer to death.

‘Chucky is definitely more than his crime, he claims he is innocent, and I have visited him seven times,’ said Mrs Hardiman

‘It’s very easy to read what they have done and judge them solely on their crime but if we held everyone to their biggest mistake nobody would be seen as perfect.

‘My husband and son are both very supportive, they understand why I do it.

‘I never know what they’ve done and if they tell me that’s up to them, it starts with saying hello and the conversation grows from there.’

Mrs Hardiman says she watched an ‘amazing conference’ about other people becoming friends with death row inmates, and a charity asked if anyone else wanted to become a pen pal for prisoners awaiting their deaths.  

Mrs Hardiman says she watched an ‘amazing conference’ about other people becoming friends with death row inmates, and a charity asked if anyone else wanted to become a pen pal for prisoners awaiting their deaths

Mrs Hardiman pictured on Sutphin Boulevard, New York. Mrs Hardiman has more recently been talking to a man in Arkansas on death row now after murdering his father and then a female prison officer over an argument about trainers

Mrs Hardiman is corresponding with an inmate in Louisiana, who she has visited, and is also planning to fly across the pond to meet a third man in Arkansas (pictured: Mrs Hardiman leaves a Louisiana State Penitentiary bus upon arriving at the prison)

She added: ‘It’s like a calling and my family understand that, my husband comes with me every time I go.

‘I have spent money out of my own pocket meeting these convicts but it’s something that I feel I really need to do in order to give them a chance at having a normal conversation without judgement.’ 

Speaking about the prisoner in Arkansas who murdered his father and then a female prison officer, Mrs Hardiman said: ‘He has always been very open about what he did and understands the consequences.

‘For me it’s about finding the human side of these people and letting them express themselves beyond apologising for their mistakes,’ Mrs Hardiman said

‘I’m currently planning to meet him sometime next year.

‘All I would say to anyone that is judging what I do is that I feel it’s the right thing to do, these men may have made some mistakes, but it doesn’t make them any less than the next man.

‘For me it’s about finding the human side of these people and letting them express themselves beyond apologising for their mistakes.’

Her husband Hughie said: ‘It’s a bit different as we usually would go on Mediterranean holidays but I’m happy to support my wife and the inmates we meet and the amazing work she’s doing.

‘To us it’s how we live out our faith, and I think she’s an incredible person to be able to see past what these men are convicted of and find out who they are inside.’

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