Failed murderer
Born 1932 Died 1997

There was nothing particularly remarkable about the life of Terence Bell, who lived the unassuming life of a building society clerk at Southsea in Hampshire, other than the fact that he had tired of his marriage and desired to be rid of his wife. Thus in 1980 he took out a life insurance policy of £250,000 on his wife and then proceeded to attempt to kill her and so make himself a wealthy man.

Poison was the first method selected for the removal of Mrs Bell; our Terence procured a quantity of mercury and presented his wife with a suitably doctored strawberry flan (it rolled off the plate) and then presented her with a similarly tainted mackerel which was eaten with no apparent ill effects by Mrs Bell.

The unhappy couple then went on holiday to Yugoslavia where Terence tried to persuade his wife to sit at the edge of a cliff, only to find his plan frustrated when she refused his suggestion. On their return home he then turned to arson; the first fire was discovered by a neighbour and extingushed, whilst although a second attempt succeeded in burning down the house his wife escaped unhurt.

Finally Terence explained to his wife that he needed to test the brakes on his car, persuaded her to stand in the middle of the road and drove straight at her. She jumped out of the way at the last minute.

Having now failed no less than seven times to kill his wife, Terence now despaired of success and decided to give up on any further attempts at homicide and confessed all to the Hampshire police. His wife was reportedly shocked when told of her husband's confession.

Unfortunately the single source that I have for the career of Terence Bell gives no information as to whether what sentence he received in respect of his crimes. Neither does it say whether or not his wife saw fit to divorce him as a result of his criminal career.

See William Donaldson Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics (Phoenix, 2004)

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