The Pottery Cottage Murders

 

The ONLY account written with the approval of the sole survivor, co-authored by the man who saved her.

For three days Billy Hughes played psychological games with Gill Moran and her family, while secretly murdering them one by one. Blizzards hampered the police manhunt, but they learned where the dangerous criminal was hiding and closed in on the cottage. A desperate car chase ensued, ending with a shoot-out and the killer's death. There was just one survivor. 

The plot for a great crime novel? No, it all actually happened in January 1977.

The Pottery Cottage Murders is a gripping, fast-paced account of a criminal case that reads like fiction but is terrifyingly true. What took place at a family home on the Derbyshire moors in 1977 made the name Pottery Cottage synonymous with horror: an address briefly as infamous as 112 Ocean Avenue in the US town of Amityville, where a young man had murdered his entire family three years earlier, and the home of married killers Fred and Rosemary West on Cromwell Street in Gloucester. 

Afterwards, the determination of sole survivor Gill Moran to prevent any written or dramatic accounts of the case saw 'Pottery Cottage' largely vanish from public consciousness, yet those events changed British history. Now in her eighties, Gill has finally given permission for her story to be told - by the former Chief Inspector who saved her life over forty years before.

Somebody's Mother, Somebody's Daughter

 

Much has been written about the brutal crimes of Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, and - thirty-five years after he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of thirteen women - scarcely a week goes by without some mention of him in the media.

In any story featuring Sutcliffe, however, his victims are incidental, often reduced to a tableau of nameless faces. But each woman was much more than the manner of her death, and in Somebody's Mother, Somebody's Daughter, Carol Ann Lee tells, for the first time, the stories of those women who came into Sutcliffe's murderous orbit, restoring their individuality to them and giving a voice to their families, including the twenty-three children whom he left motherless.

Based on previously unpublished material and fresh, first-hand interviews the book examines the Yorkshire Ripper story from a new perspective: focusing on the women and putting the reader in a similar position to those who lived through that time. The killer, although we know his identity, remains a shadowy figure throughout, present only as the perpetrator of the attacks.

By talking to survivors and their families, and to the families of the murdered women, Carol Ann Lee gets to the core truths of their lives and experiences, not only at the hands of Sutcliffe but also with the Yorkshire Police and their crass and ham-fisted handling of the case, where the women were put into two categories: prostitutes and non-prostitutes. In this book they are, simply, women, and all have moving backstories.

The grim reality is that not enough has changed within society to make the angle this book takes on the Yorkshire Ripper case a purely historical one. Recent news stories have shown that women and girls who come forward to report serious crimes of a sexual nature are often judged as harshly - and often more so - than the men who have wronged them. The Rochdale sex abuse scandal, the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, and the US President's deplorable comments about women are vivid reminders that those in positions of power regard women as second class citizens. At the same time, the discussions arising from these recent stories, and much of the reporting, show that women are judged today as much on their preferences, habits and appearance as they were at the time of the Yorkshire Ripper attacks. The son of Wilma McCann, Sutcliffe's first known murder victim, told the author, 'We still have a very long way to go' and in that regard he is correct.

Hard-hitting and wholly unique in approach, this timely book sheds new light on a case that still grips the nation.

The Murders At White House Farm

 

On 7 August 1985, Nevill and June Bamber, their daughter Sheila and her two young sons Nicholas and Daniel were discovered shot to death at White House Farm in Essex. The murder weapon was found on Sheila's body; a bible lay at her side. All the windows and doors of the farmhouse were secure, and the Bambers' son, 24-year-old Jeremy, had alerted police after apparently receiving a phone call from his father, who told him Sheila had 'gone berserk' with the gun. It seemed a straightforward case of murder-suicide, but a dramatic turn of events was to disprove the police's theory. In October 1986, Jeremy Bamber was convicted of killing his entire family in order to inherit his parents' substantial estates. He has always maintained his innocence.

Drawing on interviews and correspondence with many of those closely connected to the events - including Jeremy Bamber - and a wealth of previously unpublished documentation, Carol Ann Lee brings astonishing clarity to a complex and emotive case. She describes the years of rising tension in the family that culminated in the murders, and provides clear insight into the background of each individual and their relationships within the family unit.

Scrupulously fair in its analysis, The Murders at White House Farm is an absorbing portrait of a family, a time and a place, and a gripping account of one of Britain's most notorious crimes.

A Fine Day For A Hanging

In 1955, former nightclub manageress Ruth Ellis shot dead her lover, David Blakely. Following a trial that lasted less than two days, she was found guilty and sentenced to death. She became the last woman to be hanged in Britain, and her execution is the most notorious of hangman Albert Pierrepoint's 'duties'.

Despite Ruth's infamy, the story of her life has never been fully told. Often wilfully misinterpreted, the reality behind the headlines was buried by an avalanche of hearsay. But now, through new interviews and comprehensive research into previously unpublished sources, Carol Ann Lee examines the facts without agenda or sensation. A portrait of the era and an evocation of 1950s club life in all its seedy glamour, A Fine Day for a Hanging sets Ruth's gripping story firmly in its historical context in order to tell the truth about both her timeless crime and a punishment that was very much of its time.

Evil Relations: The Man Who Bore Witness Against the Moors Murderers

The chief prosecution witness in the Moors Murders trial gives his account of the case after more than four decades of silence.

Despite standing as chief prosecution witness in the Moors Murders trial, David Smith was vilified by the public due to the accusations thrown at him by Myra Hindley and Ian Brady about his involvement in their crimes. Hindley's later confession that she and Brady had lied in an attempt to reduce their sentences did little to diminish the slurs against his name.

For over four decades, Smith was asked by writers and film-makers to tell his story. Apart from a handful of brief interviews, he always refused. Carol Ann Lee met Smith during her research for One of Your Own, her critically acclaimed biography of Hindley, following which he finally agreed to reveal all.

In Evil Relations (previously published as Witness), interviews, archival research and, most significantly, David Smith's own vivid memoir are fused to create an unforgettable, often harrowing account of his life before, during and after the Moors Murders.

One Of Your Own

'Infamous, I have become disowned, but I am one of your own' - Myra Hindley, from her unpublished autobiography.

On 15 November 2002, Myra Hindley, Britain’s most notorious murderess, died in prison, one of the rare women whose crimes were deemed so indefensible that ‘life’ really did mean ‘life’.

But who was the woman behind the headlines? How could a seemingly normal girl grow up to commit such terrible acts? Her defenders claim she fell under Ian Brady’s spell, but is this the truth? Was her insistence that she had changed, that she felt deep remorse and had reverted to the Catholicism of her childhood genuine or a calculating bid to win parole?

One of Your Own explores these questions and many others, drawing on a wide range of resources, including Hindley’s own unseen writings, hundreds of recently released prison files, fresh interviews and extensive new research. Compellingly well written, this is the first in-depth study of Hindley and the challenging, definitive biography of Britain’s ‘most-hated woman’.

 © Carol Ann Lee 2020