Published On: Sat, Dec 20th, 2014 on 12:22 am

Man jailed for killing Leeds woman Gemma Simpson missing since 2000

Martin Bell

Martin Bell.

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

Martin Bell, 45, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Gemma Simpson, 23, on the grounds of diminished responsibility and will serve a minimum of 12 years.

The court heard how Bell, from Scarborough, and Miss Simpson, from Leeds, had known each other for five years.

After they smoked cannabis together in May 2000, Bell had told Miss Simpson: “God wants me to kill you.”

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

Leeds Crown Court heard Bell dismembered the body before burying her at Brimham Rocks, North Yorkshire.

He 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.

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 around nine months in August 1999 and was released around six weeks before he killed Miss Simpson.

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

Judge Peter Collier QC told Bell: “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.”

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.

Gemma Simpson Leeds

Gemma Simpson.

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.”

Image courtesy: West Yorkshire Police.

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