Gemma Simpson: Man admits killing Leeds woman as Brimham Rocks is searched

PIC: Ross Parry
PIC: Ross Parry
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POLICE have examined a Yorkshire beauty spot in a bid to find the body of a Leeds woman who went missing from her home more than a decade ago.

News of the investigation at Brimham Rocks, near Knaresborough, came as a man appeared in court to admit the killing of Gemma Simpson.

Leeds Crown Court heard Martin Bell has made “full and frank admissions” over her death.

Gemma was 23 when she vanished in May 2000 after telling a friend she was catching a bus from her home in Harehills to Leeds city centre.

Bell appeared at Leeds Crown Court yesterday via a video link from Hull Prison after being charged with her murder last Friday. Bell’s solicitor Ian Cook told the court: “There has been a full and frank admission to unlawful killing during the interviews.

The lawyer added: “The issue is likely to be diminished responsibility and, or, provocation.”

Mr Cook, told the court enquiries were continuing in a bid to find Gemma’s body. He told the court the killing took place in Harrogate.

Bell, 43, of St Leonard’s Crescent, Scarborough, sat quietly throughout the ten minute hearing. He wore a grey sweater and spoke only to confirm his name and that he could hear what was being said in the courtroom.

Bell is charged with murdering Gemma between May 4, 2000 and June 3, 2000 at flat 6, 137 Knaresborough Road, Harrogate.

No pleas were entered to the charge and no application was made for bail. Mr Cook said psychiatric reports were still being awaited.

Bell will appear before the court again next week for a preliminary hearing, when a date for a plea hearing and possible trial will be set. The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier, QC, told Bell he will have to remain in custody until then.

Police have confirmed the examination at Brimham Rocks is part of an investigation into Gemma Simpson’s murder. Detective chief inspector Adrian Taylor, from West Yorkshire Police Protective Services (Crime), said: “Gemma’s family have been told about this development and are being kept fully informed as the investigation progresses.”

Speaking last year about Gemma’s disappearance, her sister, Naomi Carrack, of Otley, said: “Gemma didn’t just vanish - someone knows what happened to her. Without any resolution the pain for us just continues.”

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