England

Teen tortured for weeks before murdered by 48-year-old boyfriend

April 16, 1996
Manchester, England
James Patterson Smith (48) tortures his 17-year-old girlfriend Kelly Anne Bates for 4 weeks before drowning her in a bathtub

Smith had a history of abuse (including severely beating a girlfriend while she was pregnant with his child) and statutory rape in relationships before he had met Kelly Anne when she was 14. The two began dating, hiding the relationship from Kelly Anne’s parents. When Kelly Anne was 16, she and Smith moved in together which was when her mother met him for the first time. She recounted in an interview with the Daily Mirror that she “tried everything [she] could to get Kelly Anne away from him.” Kelly Anne’s mother feared trying too hard to coerce her daughter home, believing it may push the teen further towards Smith. She also went to police but was turned away and informed they could only assist with a statement from Kelly Anne.

The day after Kelly Anne’s murder, Smith turned himself in to police, claiming the two had argued, causing Kelly Anne to fall into the tub and inhale some bath water, and he had been successful in reviving her.

When officials investigated the house, they found Kelly Anne’s nude body in a bedroom and her blood in every room of the house. It was also determined her hair had been tied to a radiator to restrain her, as well as a cord tied around her neck to bind her in other areas of the house.

A post-mortem exam revealed over 150 individual injuries including: scalding to buttocks and leg; burns from a hot iron to her thigh; a fractured arm; stab wounds from various instruments including knives, scissors, forks, garden spade, and pruning shears; stab wounds inside her mouth; crushed hands; mutilation to her genitalia, ears, and face; eyeballs gouged from their sockets “not less than five days and not more than three weeks before her death”; stab wounds to the empty eye sockets; partial scalping; dehydration over several days before her death; starvation (she had lost 20 kg — 44 lbs); blunt force trauma to the head from a shower head directly before drowning; and finally being drowned.

At trial, Smith blamed his victim, claiming she injured herself to make him look bad. The jury took just one hour to convict him, and he was sentenced to life with a minimum of 25 years.

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