Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Kim Newell

When it comes to bad behaviour Welsh women leave their male counterparts standing. Your average Cymro is quite good at drinking himself to death but that's about it. Take a peek at the distaff side and you'll find all kinds of mayhem. The ladies have been busy shagging famous artists and getting sued by Aleister Crowley (Nina Hamnett); conning Marlon Brando into marrying them (Anna Kashfi); and calling Russell Harty "a silly cunt" on his own TV show (Rachel Roberts). Even today hardcore houris like Isabel Ice, Sophie Dee and Shay Hendrix easily outstrip the men when it comes to naughtiness.

Another name which belongs in the great pantheon of Welsh women behaving badly is Kim Newell (see pic). This blonde, sexy, scheming, seductress was at the centre of one of the most sensational murder trials of the 1960s. The 23-year-old former sweet shop worker from Wrexham, it seemed, could wrap any man she liked around her little finger. She also had the morals of an alley cat. When, aged 16, she became pregnant by her married lover, Eric Jones, she got him to perform the abortion. She would later blackmail him into carrying out a murder.

Newell took up a career in nursing and moved to Reading where she soon found a new lover, Raymond Cook. He too was married. In 1967 they hatched a plan to bump off Cook's wife in order to get their mitts on her £10,000 savings. She contacted Eric Jones in Wales and suggested he do the dirty deed. If he didn't she would make it public that he had performed an abortion on her. The gruesome threesome decided to fake a car accident. Cook and his doomed wife drove to the spot on a deserted country road where Jones was waiting. Pretending that his car had broken down he forced the couple to stop. He then proceeded to batter the poor woman to death with a car jack, handed to him by treacherous Raymond Cook. Afterwards they drove the red mini into a tree.

Police suspected foul play. Discovering blood 70 yards from where the vehicle ended up made them instantly sceptical. Newell, Cook and Jones were arrested within days. At the murder trial Newell attired herself in tight-fitting clothing that showed off her ample bosom. Her hair, too, was immaculately coiffeured. Observers could have been forgiven for thinking that she actually enjoyed being in the limelight. She spent almost nine hours in the witness box. The prosecution quoted extensively from Macbeth in order to portray her as a scheming and avaricious woman. The national press dubbed her the Lady Macbeth of Berkshire. When she was later found guilty of being an accessory to murder they called her the most evil woman in Britain.

Newell and her co-conspirators were jailed for life. Pregnant by Raymond Cook, she gave birth to a son in prison. The boy was looked after by Newell's mother in Rhosymadoc, near Ruabon. Newell would serve 12 gruelling years behind bars before being freed in 1979. Upon release she said: "I am thinking of writing a book about my 12 years of hell." She never did. Instead she moved back to Wales and worked in a local school. She cooked meals at her mother's charity functions and even provided shelter to another ex-prisoner. In 1990, aged 47, she died of cancer. Just before her death she expressed remorse at June Cook's killing, saying: "She didn't deserve to die." As for her former lovers, Eric Jones and Raymond Cook, she was less generous: "I never loved them. I only loved my dog."