Mary Bell found Guilty
It was not the method of killing, strangulation, nor the fact that the two victims were toddlers, but the age of the killer that set the Mary Bell case apart. When she was found guilty at Newcastle Assizes Mary Bell was just 11 years old, from her pictures a rather pretty little child. When she killed first, ending the life of three-year-old Martin Brown in May 1968 she was only 10, in fact it was the day before her eleventh birthday. Brian Howe died at her hands two months later.
No motive has ever really been found for the killings that took place in the rundown Scotswood area of Newcastle, though obviously Bell was deeply disturbed. It subsequently was alleged that she had suffered sexual abuse, and it has even been suggested that her own mother had tried to kill her as a small child.
The first killing initially was taken to be an accident, but was linked to the second when the body of Brian Howe was found with evidence pointing to his strangulation being at the hands of another child. Mary’s story was inconsistent when interviewed by the police, and she revealed details that had not been made public, giving herself away.
Another child two years older than Mary was implicated in the killings and tried with her, but found not guilty. In spite of the cold blooded nature of the killings, Mary Bell was found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder. The Home Office psychiatrist put on the case said she required treatment for her disorder, and her diminished responsibility was acknowledged in the verdict of the jury. Detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure, i.e. indefinitely, she was released in 1980, granted the anonymity which would allow her to begin her life under a new name.
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