UK

Taxi Driver Martin Bell Sawed Gemma Simpson's Legs Off Because He Couldn't Fit Her In Car Boot

15/12/2014 15:51 GMT | Updated 15/12/2014 16:59 GMT

A taxi driver has admitted killing a woman in a "frenzied" attack with a hammer and a knife before sawing her legs off and burying her at a beauty spot.

Martin Bell said God told him to kill 23-year-old Gemma Simpson when she was at his flat in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, 14 years ago in May 2000.

Bell pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility when he appeared at Leeds Crown Court on Monday.

gemma simpson

Gemma Simpson went missing 14 years ago. Her remains have been found at a beauty spot

The 45-year-old, who handed himself into police earlier this year, said he gave Simpson the opportunity to get away but killed her after he thought she had threatened his children.

Simon Myerson QC told the court Bell launched a "frenzied" attack in which he repeatedly struck Simpson with a hammer and then stabbed her in the back and neck an "enormous" and "uncountable" number of times with a kitchen knife.

Myerson said: "His intent was for her not to be in pain."

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Bell filled a bath with water and left Simpson in it for four days with her hands tied behind her back because he was "frightened she would come back to life".

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 hired a car but found that he could not fit Simpson's body in the boot, so he sawed off the bottom of his victim's legs.

Bell, who has been diagnosed with psychotic illness, told police he did this "as fast as I could so I wasn't sick".

He wrapped Simpson's body in a sleeping bag and secured it with chains and a padlock "so she couldn't get out".

He then drove her to Brimham Rocks, near Harrogate, where he dug a hole with a shovel and buried her.

Myerson told the court that Bell, who was 30 at the time of the attack, had known Simpson for around five years.

On the day of her death, the pair met at Leeds railway station before going back to Bell's flat in Harrogate.

Bell was questioned by police after Simpson was reported missing and said the young woman had called him to ask if she could stay with him but he had not seen her that day.

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.

During his interviews, Bell took police to Brimham Rocks and showed them where he had buried Simpson, and her remains were recovered.

He said he had visited the site four or fives times since Simpson's death.

Bell told police he had considered confessing in the past but his mother was still alive and he was concerned about losing his freedom.

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 Simpson.

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.

Greaney said: "At the time of the killing, Martin Bell was suffering from a serious mental illness which substantially impaired his mental responsibility in doing what he did in killing Gemma Simpson."

He added: "The killing would not have occurred had he been well."

Greaney said if Bell had not handed himself in to police, "he would probably have gone to his own grave without ever being punished".

The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier QC, said he would sentence Bell on Friday.