"Please Mam, put my tiny mind at ease, tell judge and jury on your knees. They will listen to your cry of ‘please’. The guilty one is you, not me. I am sorry it has to be this way. We’ll both cry and you will go away. Tell them you are guilty, please. So then Mam, I’ll be free.
Your daughter, May."
Mary Bell, in a letter to her mother after the court finds her guilty of manslaughter.
Mary Bell spent a total of 12 years at various institutions, including Red Bank Special Unit, where she was the only female offender, before she was released in 1980 at the age of 23. Whilst incarcerated she continually denied being guilty of the killings of Martin and Brian.
After her release she was given a new identity and granted anonymity. In May 2003 Bell and her daughter won a case at the High Court which gave them both anonymity for life.
The Mary Bell case was the first of its kind. Investigations into her early life, carried out after she was convicted, have been presented as arguments for the reason that she committed the terrible crimes that she did. Psychology experts now believe that the sexual behaviour she witnessed and was forced to take part in as a very young child may have harmed Mary’s mental development, making her unable to feel the same emotions as other children her age.