The Case Of Mary Bell: A Portrait of a Child Who Murdered by Gitta Sereny

By Gitta Sereny

In December 1968 ladies who lived round the corner to one another - Mary, elderly 11, and Norma, 13 - stood earlier than a felony court docket in Newcastle, accused of strangling little boys; Martin Brown, 4 years previous, and Brian Howe, 3.

Norma was once acquitted. Mary Bell, the more youthful yet infinitely extra subtle and cooler of the 2, used to be stumbled on accountable of manslaughter. She avoided being branded as a assassin as a result of what the courtroom governed as 'diminished responsibility', yet she was once sentenced to 'detention' for all times.

Step by way of step, Gitta Sereny items jointly a gripping and infrequent examine of a frightening crime; the murders, the occasions surrounding them, the alternately bizzare and nonchalant behaviour of the 2 ladies, their brazen bargains to aid the distraught households of the useless boys, the police paintings that ended in their apprehension, and eventually the trial itself. What emerges from this extraorindary case is the lack of society to count on such occasions and to take enough steps as soon as catastrophe has struck.

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The girls then climbed through a partly boarded-up window on the ground floor of the house next door, No. 83, went through into the back yard and through a partly demolished outhouse into No. 85. Walter Long stopped them as they came up the stairs, he told the court later. “Get away down,” he shouted. “That’s all right—the police know I’m here,” he says Mary Bell replied. “They weren’t allowed up though—they were told to go away,” he said. ’ “‘One of your bairns has had an accident,’ the other one said first—you know, that Mary.

I asked Norma what had happened and she said that Pauline had fallen and hurt her throat on the edge of the sand pit. I didn’t see Cindy then. I then walked down home with Norma and went in the house. Signed: M. Bell Witness: E. Bell (mother) Mary’s headmistress at the Delaval Road Junior School told me that Mrs. ” “She seemed honestly concerned that I should find out the truth,” said the headmistress, “so I called Pauline in and asked her to tell me honestly who had squeezed her neck. She said, ‘Please Miss, I don’t know the girl,’ and she wouldn’t say anything else.

So first in 1968 in this book about Mary Bell, and then again in 1994 in the articles about the boys who killed Jamie Bulger (which are reprinted at the end of this book), I decided to ask the questions a British Court is not in a position to ask, and to protest against a judicial system which is totally outdated. How, first of all, can it be right to subject young children to the awesome formality of a jury trial? How can a jury be expected to understand the thought processes, the emotions or language of children?

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