2. Mary Bell
Mary Bell was convicted of strangling a young boy, Martin Brown, on May 25, 1968, the day before her 11th birthday. She was, as far as anyone knows, alone on this occasion. On July 31, 1968, Mary and her friend (Norma Bell – no relation to Mary) took part in the death, again by strangulation, of three-year-old Brian Howe. Police reports concluded that Mary Bell had gone back after killing him to carve an “N” into his stomach with a razor, this was then changed using the same razor but with a different hand to an “M”. Mary Bell also used a pair of scissors to cut off bits of Brian Howe’s hair and part of his genitals. As the girls were so young and their testimonies contradicted each other, it has never been entirely clear precisely what happened. Martin Brown’s death was initially ruled an accident as there was no evidence of foul play. Eventually, his death was linked with Brian Howe’s killing and in August, the two girls were charged with two counts of manslaughter. Mary was released in 1980 with court ordered anonymity. In 2003, the courts awarded her and her daughter anonymity for life.