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Podcast Sublime True Crime Podcast

Ep 12 – The murder of Bethany Hill

Who would have thought that a Barbie doll would help to convict a transgender murderer and her boyfriend.

Who would have thought that a Barbie doll would help to convict a transgender murderer and her boyfriend?

Listen to the episode below:

The Barbie Doll Murderers

Kayleigh Woods had what may be described as a confusing adolescence.  Born as a boy called Kyle Lockwood, Kayleigh grew up identifying as female. 

The Barbie Doll Murderers' doll was found gagged and bound - Credit South West News Service
The Barbie doll was found gagged and bound – Credit South West News Service

Kayleigh met Bethany Hill (Beth) at Stratford College in Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of Shakespeare, and the pair soon became best friends. 

Beth, who had a history of self-harm, was brought up in Bidford-on-Avon.

During their time at the college, Beth had a brief relationship with a boy called Jack Williams and introduced him to Kayleigh who, in turn, had a sexual relationship with him despite – as The Sun puts it – still having male genitals.

Williams himself had a troubled life, going to his local GP for help after experiencing signs of mental illness in the middle of 2015. He discussed with his GP about how he experienced blackouts when feeling angry.

He admitted having regular dreams about killing or hurting people and on one occasion tried to admit himself in to a psychiatric hospital.

Despite seeking help from his doctor, he still suffered episodes. 

In October, just 4 months before Beth died, Williams told Woods to run before grabbing a knife and repeatedly stabbing the door of the bathroom where she had taken refuge.

This led to Williams being detained under the Mental Health Act for assessment and moving back in with his parents.

Cannabis-induced paranoia

The episode was deemed to be a paranoid element which may have been induced by cannabis.  Williams, who said he had not smoked any for two months, had described hearing his own voice saying ‘you need to cut her up’.

After this Dr Nicholas Kennedy, a consultant psychiatrist diagnosed Williams with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and placed him on anti-psychotic drugs.  This apparently had huge improvements in his mental health as a result. 

But just a couple of months later in December he disclosed he had stopped taking the medication and had begun smoking cannabis on a daily basis again.

Despite this, Coventry mental health services saw fit to discharge him.

Housemates

A month later, Williams moved back into the flat he shared with Beth and Kayleigh.

That’s right.  The relationship between her friend and her ex obviously didn’t bother Beth too much.  Despite having dropped out of college and moved in with her parents, she later moved into a flat with the pair. 

Beth slept in the bedroom in the Hertford Road flat while Woods and Williams slept in the sitting room.

Bethany Hill was found in the bathroom of the flat the trio shared - Photo from Police handout
Bethany Hill was found in the bathroom of the flat the trio shared – Photo from Police handout

If that situation doesn’t seem messy enough already, Beth who was 20 at the time, was said to have a “volatile” relationship with Woods, who was 23.

This volatility didn’t stop Beth and Kayleigh from planning to have a child together though!

Fetish Barbie Doll

Kayleigh and Jack practised a twisted torture on a “fetish” Barbie doll as part of their sex play.  The doll – which had it’s hair coloured a similar shade to Beth’s – was gagged and bound.

And you’ve probably guessed by now that this weird sex act didn’t stay in the realm of fantasy for the pair.

On 2nd February Williams went to work, leaving Beth and Kayleigh together in the flat. He returned from work at about 1am the next morning. 

On 3rd February 2016, Bethany Hill was found dead in the bathroom of the flat she shared with Kayleigh and Jack.

It was Kayleigh who called 999 that evening, just after 7pm, telling the operator:

“My best friend is dead in my flat.”

Kayleigh Woods

It was later revealed that Beth had died in the early hours of the morning – anywhere between midnight and 7am, meaning that Kayleigh’s call to the emergency services would have been at least 12 hours after Beth had died.

When police officers arrived at the flat with paramedics, they found Hill’s body already in rigor mortis.

Asking Kayleigh what had happened, they were told:

‘She’s a mess, she’s always been suicidal and taken tablets.”

Kayleigh Woods, to police.

She also told them that she had returned to find blood everywhere and attempted to clean the flat before phoning the police. 

The day after Beth’s death, a neighbour of the couple spotted Williams jumping over a car park wall and disposing of a bin bag.

The witness ripped the bag open and found it full of Beth’s bloodied clothes and called the police.

Another neighbour revealed that he had heard moaning and what he thought was the sound of a head hitting a wall in the early hours of 3rd February, as well as the sound of a cutlery drawer being opened and closed aggressively.

Bethany Hill’s murder

It was quickly revealed that the twisted couple, Kayleigh and Jack, had used duct tape to bind Beth’s wrists before slashing her throat for a “sadistic” thrill.  They then cut into her jugular vein for their own “perverted pleasure”.

The perverse paid had killed Beth sometime between 1am and 7am before attempting to cover their tracks by saying she had drank bleach and committed suicide.

Woods’ also took Beth’s phone and used it to exchange messages with her own phone in an effort to make it look as though she was still alive.

At the trial, prosecutor Stephen Linehan QC told jurors:

“What she was saying was that her friend had killed herself while she was out of the flat and that she had returned to find blood everywhere, and that she had cleaned up the flat before making that telephone call.

All of these things were lies. Bethany Hill had not died as a result of cutting herself – she had been brutally, brutally murdered.”

Stephen Linehan QC

Discarding evidence

It’s a damning statement, but one that is fully understandable when you hear that police officers had found how Woods’ had broken her sim card before throwing it away and then dropped her mobile phone down a drain.

She also threw Beth’s mobile in a sanitary towel bin in the police station toilets after she had been taken there in an effort to get rid of what was a piece of vital evidence.

The court also heard of a report in 2015 by a psychological therapist which stated that Williams was:

“worried about his feelings of anger and feared his behaviour would get him in to difficulty”

psychological therapist report.

going on to reveal that Williams had said at the time that things were becoming worse. 

He described the “trigger” as being “anything that goes wrong”, including a broken cup or cushions out of place.

Dr Nicholas Kennedy also told the court that Williams’ had told the therapist of thoughts of a “room full of people chained up and pulling out their toenails”.

It was also stated that Williams “enjoyed seeing blood and cutting things”, and had enjoyed killing a rat he found in his home and revealed that Williams had admitted hearing “voices in his head” telling him to do impulsive things.

As Dr Kennedy explained:

“The person to an extent loses control and has experiences of things around them and themselves not being fully connected. [He] would not have had ability to form a rational judgement and ability to exercise self-control would have been severely impaired”

Dr Kennedy.

A possible get-out clause for Williams.

Discovery of the tortured Barbie Doll

During the trial jurors were told about the Barbie doll which belonged to Woods.  The doll – complete with gaffer tapes wrists and mouth – was found in a box she had given to her grandmother Kathleen Brain to keep in her attic.

Woods told her grandmother that she was concerned that her ex-boyfriend would break in and take them and that the boxes had important things in them.

In the days following the attack, police contacted Kathleen, searching for evidence.  It was then that Kathleen told them how Kayleigh had visited her and left her with a number of boxes which she had put into her attic.

Police officers opened them and found the doll in one of them.

The tortured Barbie doll - Source from South West News Network
The tortured Barbie doll – Source from South West News Network

While giving evidence, Mrs Brain said Woods told her that it was Williams who had put the marks and gaffer tape strips on the doll’s wrists and feet.

She also revealed that she had seen the doll before, stating that when she had visited the couple towards the end of 2014 it had been on the sofa and she had almost sat on it.

Noticing the odd marks and tape on its wrists and feet she asked her granddaughter “what’s with the doll.”  Kayleigh replied sounded upset and annoyed saying that Jack had done it.  Jack just laughed.

Woods told jurors that she had nothing to do with the murder – and only went along with Williams’ plan because she feared she’d be next.

Collapse of the defence

William’s defence fell down when Dr Kennedy revealed that a case of diminished responsibility would not fit given that the attack took place over several hours with Beth being bound with duct tape and having the back of her neck cut.

As part of his closing speech, prosecutor Stephen Linehan QC said that Woods and Williams carried out the killing together, which “couldn’t have been done without each of them agreeing to it”.

Woods admitted to telling lies to police whilst being interviewed, which Mr Linehan referred to, stating:

“Wouldn’t someone whose friend had died tell the truth from the beginning if you didn’t know anything about it?

Particularly in the police station when they would want to know what happened to this girl.”

Stephen Linehan QC

The jury was told that after Miss Hill was killed, Woods cuddled and kissed Williams while laying on the sofa with him.

This was another point that Linehan picked up on:

“If she hadn’t taken part … the horror she would feel for this man, you wouldn’t let him cuddle you. You wouldn’t let him near you.”

Stephen Linehan QC

He also described Woods’ actions of sending text messages between Bethany’s phone and her own as an “appalling charade”, going on to say that she took “pleasure” from sending the text messages and “doesn’t have human feelings”.

Sentencing of Jack Williams and Kayleigh Woods

In summing up the reason for the attack, Linehan told the court:

“Bethany Hill was bound and possibly gagged using duct tape, as part of the act that led to her death.

That’s why we say this was a sadistic killing done by Jack Williams to gain a perverted pleasure and Kayleigh Woods joined in with her lover to please him.”

Stephen Linehan QC

Sentencing the pair, Judge Richard Griffith-Jones said:

“’I’m unable to say which of the defendants was a controlling force, if there was a controlling force. The evidence compels me to this being a sadistic killing.”

Judge Richard Griffith-Jones.

Jack Williams and Kayleigh Woods were sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 26 years for murder.

Jack Williams and Kayleigh Woods
Jack Williams and Kayleigh Woods tried to cover up the murder, jurors were told – Photo from police handout

Kayleigh Woods was originally sent to HMP Hewell, in Redditch, Worcestershire to serve her time. 

All-female prison

Despite not having a gender recognition certificate she successfully petitioned to be moved to a female prison.

The Transgender Case Board (TCB) approved her transfer to Eastwood Park in December 2017.  Their decision was based around the fact that she posed little risk to female inmates due to the lack of sexual offences on her record.

Kayleigh started a secret relationship whilst inside. Prison officers reportedly caught her having sex with a woman in her cell.

The Sun reported:

“Prison officers found one of the pair in a state of undress. A toilet seat had also been broken. It was pretty clear what they’d been up to.”

The Sun newspaper.

The prison reported her to the TCB, resulting in Woods being transferred back into a men’s prison, this time at HMP Gartree, in Leicestershire.

References/Further Reading:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-coventry-warwickshire-38748599

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2704661/please-couple-tied-up-killed-flatmate-knife-attack-stratford/

https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/bethany-hill-murder-pure-evil-12506863

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/transgender-prisoner-sent-back-mens-16245439

https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/local-news/pair-accused-perverted-bethany-hill-12484694

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jan/04/couple-killed-flatmate-bethany-hill-perverted-pleasure-warwick-court-hears

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/bethany-hill-murder-trial-sick-9564102

https://www.heart.co.uk/westmids/news/local/couple-jailed-for-life-for/

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4156440/Transgender-woman-boyfriend-murdered-flatmate.html

https://www.itv.com/news/central/update/2017-01-25/breaking-pair-sentenced-to-life-in-prison-for-murder/

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Music

Music used in this episode:  All music used is sourced from http://freemusicarchive.org/ or http://www.opsound.org/ and is used under an Attribution Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Playlist Tracks:

PYROMANIAC (ARSONIST EDIT by Pablo Perez.

http://www.opsound.org/artist/pabloperez/

https://infopablo00.blogspot.mx/

infopablo00@yahoo.com

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