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Murder of Kelly Anne Bates

The tragic story of Kelly Anne Bates. In 1996 police were called to the residence of James Patterson Smith who informed officers that his girlfriend Kelly Anne Bates, 17 at the time. Had drowned in the bath. Though after initial investigations what police found out truly shocked them to their core.

Kelly and James had met in 1993 when Kelly was just 14 years old while she was babysitting for friends and soon started a relationship. Two years after meeting and Kelly had graduated from senior school and moved in with James Smith. After some heated arguments, Kelly moved back home for a short period in 1995. Yet against her parents wishes Kelly once again returned to James in early November.

It was then that Kelly's parents started to notice bruises appear when she'd come home to visit. Trying to convince her parents that the bruises we're results of accidents but to no avail, Kelly became more recluse. In March 1996, her parents received cards purportedly from her for their anniversary and a birthday, but only Smith had written in them. When Bates' brother tried to see her at the house, Smith said she was not at home. When a concerned neighbor asked after her, she was briefly shown at an upstairs window.

On 16 April 1996, Smith reported to authorities that he had accidentally killed his girlfriend during an argument in a bathtub, claiming that she had inhaled water and died following his attempts at resuscitation.[10] He also claimed that she often pretended to be unconscious.[10] Police went to Smith's address and found Bates' naked body in a bedroom. Bates' blood was found in throughout the house, and a post-mortem examination revealed over 150 separate injuries on her body. During the last month of her life, she had been kept bound, sometimes tied by her hair to a radiator or furniture, or by her neck by way of a ligature.

William Lawler, the Home Office pathologist who examined her body, said: "In my career, I have examined almost 600 victims of homicide but I have never come across injuries so extensive."

The following injuries were found on Bates' body

  • Scalding to her buttocks and left leg

  • Burns on her thigh caused by the application of a hot iron

  • A fractured arm

  • Multiple stab wounds caused by knives, forks, and scissors

  • Stab wounds inside her mouth

  • Crush injuries to both hands

  • Mutilation of her ears, nose, eyebrows, mouth, lips, and genitalia

  • Wounds caused by a spade and pruning shears

  • Both eyes gouged out

  • Later stab wounds to the empty eye sockets

  • Partial scalping

The pathologist determined that her eyes had been removed

"not less than five days and not more than three weeks before her death".

She had been starved, having lost around 20 kg in weight, and had not received water for several days before her death.

Peter Openshaw, the prosecutor in Smith's trial, said: "It was as if he deliberately disfigured her, causing her the utmost pain, distress, and degradation ... The injuries were not the result of one sudden eruption of violence; they must have been caused over a long period and were so extensive and so terrible that the defendant must have deliberately and systematically tortured the girl."

The cause of death was drowning, immediately prior to which she had been beaten about the head with a showerhead. Openshaw said that "Her death must have been a merciful end to her torment".


Smith denied murder and claimed Bates "would put me through hell winding me up". He also claimed that Bates had "taunted" him about his dead mother and had "a bad habit of hurting herself to make it look worse on me". When asked to explain why he had blinded, stabbed and battered Bates, he said she had dared him to do it, challenging him to do her harm. Gillian Mezey, a consultant psychiatrist, told the court that Smith had "a severe paranoid disorder with morbid jealousy" and lived in a "distorted reality".[6]

The jury at Manchester Crown Court took one hour to find 49-year-old Smith guilty of Bates' murder. Sentencing him to life imprisonment, the judge, Mr. Justice Sachs, recommended that Smith serve a minimum term of 20 years.[12] He stated: "This has been a terrible case; a catalogue of depravity by one human being upon another. You are a highly dangerous person. You are an abuser of women and I intend, so far as it is in my power, that you will abuse no more."

The jury was provided with professional counseling to help them deal with the distress of seeing the photographs of Bates' injuries and the "sickening violence" of the case

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