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Gemma Simpson death: Martin Bell jailed for 12 years

Martin Bell Image copyright West Yorkshire Police
Image caption Bell walked into Scarborough police station and admitted killing Gemma Simpson 14 years after he had committed the crime

A killer who bludgeoned and stabbed a woman to death, then kept the location of her remains secret for 14 years, has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Martin Bell, 45, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Gemma Simpson, on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Before attacking Miss Simpson, 23, in May 2000 he told her God wanted him to kill her. Her body was found at Brimham Rocks, North Yorkshire, last August.

A judge at Leeds Crown Court ordered Bell to serve a minimum of 12 years.

Body in bath

The court heard Bell, of St Leonard's Crescent, Scarborough, and Miss Simpson, from Leeds, had known each other for five years.

After they smoked cannabis together Bell had told Miss Simpson: "God wants me to kill you", the court heard.

He then struck her repeatedly with a hammer and stabbed her before leaving her body in a bath for several days, prosecutors said.

Image copyright West Yorkshire Police
Image caption Gemma Simpson had known Bell for five years before he killed her

Leeds Crown Court heard Bell dismembered the body before burying her at the beauty spot.

Bell was told he must serve a minimum of 12 years in prison, but this was reduced to 11 years and 205 days because of the time spent in custody.

The killer was arrested in July when he walked into a police station in Scarborough and confessed to the killing before telling officers where he had buried Miss Simpson's body.

'Frenzied attack'

On Friday, Judge Peter Collier QC said: "The killing of Gemma Simpson was brutal. Your treatment of her body after death was dreadful.

"But your culpability was considerably diminished by your mental illness."

Simon Myerson QC, prosecuting, told the court Bell launched a "frenzied" attack stabbing his victim multiple times with a kitchen knife.

Bell then put Gemma Simpson's body in a bath and bound her hands because he was "frightened she would come back to life".

Image copyright West Yorkshire Police
Image caption Bell took Gemma Simpson's body to Brimham Rocks in North Yorkshire

Mr Myerson said Bell closed the shower curtain so he did not have to see the body and repainted his flat with lilac paint to cover the blood stains.

He later wrapped her in a sleeping bag bound with chains and a padlock, "so she couldn't get out", before putting the body into a hire car.

In July this year, Bell rang a former girlfriend and told her he had killed someone 14 years ago. He then handed himself in at Scarborough police station.

'Delusional beliefs'

During his interviews, Bell took police to Brimham Rocks and showed them the burial site, telling detectives he had visited the site four or fives times since.

Paul Greaney QC, defending Bell, told the court the defendant heard voices telling him to do things and had "developed complex delusional beliefs" which saw him moving around the country because he believed a group of men were trying to kill him.

He had been sectioned in a mental hospital for about nine months in August 1999 and was released some six weeks before he killed Miss Simpson.

Mr Greaney said the doctor who discharged Bell accepted that the delusions had not disappeared at that stage.

A psychiatric report carried out after Bell's arrest diagnosed his mental illness as schizophrenia.

'Chill in our hearts'

Speaking outside court, Miss Simpson's father, Glenn, said he was "disgusted" by the sentence, but did not blame the judge.

He said he believed Bell has manipulated the legal system and said he hoped he would "rot".

A family statement issued by West Yorkshire Police said: "Gemma was a young woman in the prime of her life who raised a smile and lit up every room she entered.

"There is no sentence which can be imposed which will reduce the pain and suffering Martin Bell has caused Gemma's family during the past 14 years, whilst all the time he was leading a normal life.

"He left us in limbo for each one of those years. A total of nearly 5,000 days of pain in which we worried constantly for Gemma and her wellbeing.

"That chill in our hearts became an integral, perpetual part of our lives and the knowledge that Bell could watch all of our and the police's efforts to find her while going on with his own affairs for so long quite simply beggars belief.

"Our beautiful Gemma was a bright shining light in our world. A light which Martin Bell extinguished."

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