October 30, 2022 4.26 pm This story is over 18 months old

Lincolnshire women who kill: Retired cop’s book uncovers harrowing stories

80 stories spanning the last three centuries

A retired Lincolnshire Police constable has written a book about female killers in Lincolnshire which documents horrendous homicides including stabbings, beatings, a shooting, and a nurse who murdered four children in her care.

Mick Lake, 64, has covered 80 cases over the past three centuries, which resulted in a wide range of punishments, for his latest book titled Lincolnshire Women who Kill (1722-2022).

It includes 13 women who were sentenced to death, 32 who were sent to prison, and 19 who were considered to be insane and sent to secure hospitals. Also, seven women were acquitted after they’ve been subjected to decades of abuse from their husbands.

One of the most harrowing stories to read is that of Beverly Allitt, which is also a case that Mick said “will always stay uppermost in my mind” because three of his children were born at Grantham Hospital.

Had they been taken ill as babies, they would have gone onto the same ward as Allitt, and Mick says he feels like he “dodged a bullet” and it “brings it home and makes it personal”.

Beverley Allitt. | Screenshot: Crime TV

In 1993 Beverly Allitt was found guilty of four counts of murder and nine of attempted murder. She was sentenced to thirteen concurrent life sentences with a recommendation that she serves a minimum of thirty years.

She is serving her sentence at Rampton Hospital in Nottinghamshire. She became eligible for parole in November 2021, but a decision on this was deferred until she is assessed as being well enough to move to a mainstream prison.

The case of Ann Wilson in 1861 who killed three of her children was another harrowing read. She moved a heavy slab from the water cistern and cast Lucy, 2, into the water. She then used a long-handled mop to keep the child underwater until she stopped struggling.

She then repeated the process with William, 4, and Elizabeth, 7, before replacing the stone slab.

The judge recommended the jury should return a verdict of not guilty on the grounds of insanity, and she was acquitted of the charge of murder. However, an order was issued that she should be detained during Her Majesty’s pleasure.

Ann was admitted to an asylum and responded well to treatment. The 1871 Census showed that she had been released and was living in Worksop with her husband George and a two-year-old daughter called Mary. Ann died in 1905, aged 80.

The book also includes the case of Priscilla Biggadike, who was executed for poisoning her husband with arsenic in Victorian times. It is understood that she became the first woman in Britain to be executed in private when she was hanged on December 28, 1868 at Lincoln Castle.

Mick’s book also looks at unusual cases such as that of a nurse called Catherine Wilson (1854), who murdered at least five people during her killing-spree, and a woman who killed her friend in 2002 simply because she wanted to know how it felt to take a life.

The very first case in the book covers the story of Eleanor Elsom in Lincoln in 1722, when she was convicted at Lincoln Castle for murdering her husband. The Judge ordered that she should be burned at the stake.

Mick holding his new book ‘Lincolnshire Women who Kill (1722-2022)’.

Mick, who was born in Lancashire but has lived in Lincolnshire for over 50 years, told The Lincolnite that ever since he was around eight years old, when the famous Myra Hindley case hit the headlines in 1966, he’s had a “fascination with the fact that women who bring children into this world and love and nurture them can then go onto kill them and other people as well”.

He said: “The case was very much a watershed that women are capable of doing evil things.

“I am not trying to dismiss the fact that men commit 95% of murders and homicides in the UK, but I thought doing it from the point of view of women that kill had not been done before, certainly not in Lincolnshire.”

Mick said poisoning appeared to be quite common in the 1800s, but in modern times this would have been very unusual, “partly because the supply of it is now tightly regulated”.

When asked how times have changed from 1722 to now, he said “women seem to be more prepared now to be up close and personal when they commit their crime and using weapons.

“Most of the stories in my book since the Second World War have involved women using weapons in direct attacks compared to it being indirect before then.”

Another story that stood out to Mick was one of a woman called Valerie P, who killed her playboy husband in 1976 after enduring 17 years of abuse from him.

She picked up a gun to defend herself and shot him. Her legal representative successfully argued this happened due to provocation and after careful deliberation the jury found Valerie not guilty of murder and she walked from the court as a free woman.

Mick said: “In my professional life I encountered many women who were victims of domestic violence, so I was pleased to see that the legal system recognised her situation and allowed her to lead a new life.”

Some murderesses such as Susannah Mottershall (1801) and Elizabeth Ireland (1879) were clearly motivated by greed, said Mick, whilst others including Azubah Fountain (1813) and Elizabeth Garner (1861) murdered so they could be with the man they desired.

However, he said an overwhelming number of cases involved desperate women, who resorted to drastic measures, which sadly resulted in them taking the life of their partner or that of their own children.

Other cases include a woman who decapitated her baby, a policeman’s wife who gassed her child, an unhappy wife who killed her husband with corned beef, and a woman who stabbed her boyfriend to death after a silly row about a chicken burger.

Mick joined Lincolnshire Constabulary in 1976 and served in Grantham for 10 years

Mick joined Lincolnshire Constabulary in 1976 and served in Grantham for 10 years, where he met his wife Sue. He moved to Lincoln in the late 1980s, where he worked as a uniformed patrol officer in the city centre, St Giles, Ermine, Saxilby and North Hykeham areas.

After over 20 years of service, Mick specialised in the field of crime reduction, where he spent a further eight years.

Mick started publishing short stories in a local Facebook group before creating his own group called ‘Lincolnshire – True Tales from History’, which has since grown to over 4,000 members.

During the first lockdown he decided to write a book – ‘Lincoln True Tales from History’ and he donated all the royalties to St Barnabas Hospice in Lincolnshire. Mick was able to raise just under £1,850 for the charity.

His latest book called ‘Lincolnshire Women who kill’ is available to buy now and he will officially launch it at a meet and greet event at Duck Egg Blue on Saxilby High Street at 7pm on November 1.

‘Lincolnshire Women who kill’ was written by retired Lincolnshire Police constable Mick Lake.

All proceeds from that evening will be donated to The Lucas Garvey Fund. The royalties from sales of the book will be donated to LIVES.

Mick said: “The other thing that surprised me when I started doing my research is how many women were charged with murder in the 1800s and early 1900s.

“Although my book only contains 80 stories, I estimate that there were another 200 cases from 1722 to 1922 of women killing their children in Lincolnshire.”

Mick’s three books have sold as far afield as Australia, USA, Canada, Spain, and elsewhere in Europe.

Mick has been married to his wife Sue for 43 years and she compiles and edits his books. His extended family including his daughter Kyla, daughter-in-law Sam, and friend Mary Parkin have acted as proof readers for Mick.

Lincolnshire Women who Kill (1722-2022) is available on Amazon (£8.99 paperback, £3.99 Kindle version), as well as at Duck Egg Blue on Saxilby High Street where Mick will hold a meet and greet book launch on November 1.

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