Mur-der of Suzanne Capper

In December 1992, Suzanne Capper was tragically m*rdered in Greater Manchester, England. She was only sixteen years old. Suzanne d*ed on December 18, 1992, due to severe burns that caused multiple organ failure. Shockingly, these burns were intentionally inflicted on her four days prior when she was set on fire. Before her untimely d*ath, Suzanne bravely shared that she had been kidn*pped and held captive for a week in a house in Moston, Manchester. During her captivity, she endured unimaginable physical ab*se and to*ture. Eventually, her captors took her away in a car and drove her to a wooded area called Werneth Low. It was there that they poured petrol on her and set her alight. The motive behind this heinous act of to*ture and m*rder was an attempt to seek vengeance for trivial reasons: a se*ual insult, an infection with pubic lice, and the loss of a pink duffel coat.

The detectives investigating the case compared the sheer brutality of the crime to the horrifying to*ture inflicted by the Moors m*rderers on children. The trial for Suzanne Capper’s m*rder took place in November 1993 but received limited attention as it coincided with the trial of Robert Thompson and Jon Venables for the m*rder of James Bulger.

On December 17, 1993, Jean Powell (26 years old), her ex-husband Glyn Powell (29 years old), and Bernadette McNeilly (24 years old) were sentenced to life imprisonment for their involvement in the m*rder. Jeffrey Leigh (27 years old) received a twelve-year prison sentence for false imprisonment. Jean Powell’s brother, Clifford Pook (18 years old), was sentenced to fifteen years in a Young Offenders’ Institution for false imprisonment and conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm. Anthony Michael Dudson, who was only 16 years old at the time of the m*rder, was also found guilty of m*rder and sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure under section 53(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933.


Capper was a gentle and easily influenced girl who had been looked after by Jean Powell as her babysitter since she was ten years old. In 1990, her mother, Elizabeth Capper, and stepfather split up, so Capper stayed with her stepfather while also spending some time under the care of the local authority. During this time, she started skipping school, and her attendance became irregular in the final two years. She began spending more and more time at Powell’s house, a small Victorian terraced house on Langworthy Road, Moston. Unfortunately, Powell was involved in drug dealing and handling stolen vehicles. Capper’s older sister, Michelle, briefly lived with Powell but moved out in August 1992 because she didn’t like the “bad new friends” Powell was associating with, especially Bernadette McNeilly, who had recently moved in nearby.

McNeilly, a mother of three, eventually moved in with Powell and her children, and they all shared a bed in the dining room since the bedrooms were already full of children. Despite being frequently bullied by Powell and McNeilly, Capper continued to stay with them regularly. Her sister explained that she wasn’t afraid of them but would do anything they asked and catered to their every desire.

Events leading to m*rder


During the trial, several reasons were given for Capper’s kidn*pping. Jean Powell claimed that Capper had tried to persuade her to sleep with someone for money. McNeilly and Dudson believed they got pubic lice from a bed that Capper had also used. McNeilly also accused Capper of taking her pink duffel coat.

In November 1992, Dudson got pubic lice and had his pubic hair shaved. McNeilly thought he caught them from Capper, but Dudson disagreed and said he got them from McNeilly.

On December 7, 1992, Capper was tricked into going to Jean Powell’s house, where Glyn Powell and Dudson were waiting. As soon as Capper arrived, they grabbed her, held her down, and shaved her head and eyebrows. Glyn Powell then made her clean up the hair and put it in a bin. He also put a plastic bag over her head and hit her while walking around her. Jean Powell and McNeilly kicked her while she was on the floor, and both women took turns beating her with a long wooden object and a belt. They then took her to the bathroom and forced her to shave off her pubic hair as a humiliating punishment. Afterward, Jean Powell locked her in a cupboard overnight.

The next morning, Capper was moved to another cupboard upstairs. On December 8, she was taken to McNeilly’s house because Powell and McNeilly’s children were disturbed by Capper’s crying. There, she was tied with electrical flex to an upturned bed in a back room on the ground floor.


Capper endured a series of violent acts for five consecutive days. These acts became increasingly harsh and brutal as time went on. She was regularly beaten, injected with drugs, burned with cigarettes, and forced to listen to loud rave music through headphones. The music playing was a specific song called “Hi, I’m Chucky (Wanna Play?)” by 150 Volts, which included samples from the movie Child’s Play. Each session of to*ture would start with the phrase “Chucky’s coming to play.”

At some point during that week, Pook and Leigh visited the house and found Capper. She was blindfolded, gagged, and tied to the bed. By that time, she had been lying in her own waste for days. They then put her in a bath filled with strong disinfectant and scrubbed her forcefully with a stiff brush, causing her skin to come off. Pook used pliers to forcefully extract two of her teeth, which he later kept at his own house like some sort of gru*some trophy.

Dudson, one of the witnesses, recalled the scene: “Pook removed her gag and told her to open her mouth. He threatened to pull out her teeth. He hit her teeth repeatedly with the pliers, but they only chipped and broke. He struck them a few more times. Then he forcefully pulled Suzanne’s head forward until there was a loud snap, and he managed to get the tooth out with the pliers. He repeated this process again, all the while laughing.”

Missed opportunities for rescue

David Hill, who was 18 years old, was asked to be present at the house. While he was there, he heard Dudson shouting in the back room. When he asked what was happening, Leigh showed him Capper, who showed clear signs of to*ture. Hill was later alone with Capper but chose not to free her. He said, “She asked me to help, but I told her I couldn’t. I asked her name, and she said Suzanne. She asked me to untie her, but I couldn’t do anything.” Hill later explained that he was too afraid of Leigh to intervene. He said, “I thought they would harm me. If I had said anything, they would all have attacked me, right? I didn’t know what to do. I was too shocked to act.”

Leigh and Dudson also helped Capper’s sister’s fiancé, Paul Barlow, fix his car while knowing she was being held and to*tured in the house. Barlow said, “They could have told me right then. I would have broken down the door and rescued Suzanne. I never thought they were capable of such brutality. Now, all I want is ten minutes alone with them in a room.”


The six main attackers heard that Capper’s family would report her missing, so they agreed to remove her from the house.

On December 14, 1992, in the early hours, Capper was forced into the trunk of a stolen white Fiat Panda car. They drove her 15 miles (25 km) to a narrow lane near Romiley, on the outskirts of Stockport. McNeilly, the Powells, and Dudson were in the car. McNeilly giggled during the journey.

Capper was pushed down an embankment into a patch of brambles, where McNeilly poured petrol over her. McNeilly struggled to ignite the petrol, so Glyn Powell and Dudson made several attempts before setting the girl’s body on fire. Meanwhile, McNeilly sang “Burn baby burn! Burn baby burn!” from The Trammps’ song “Disco Inferno”.

Believing Capper was d*ad, the four attackers returned to Jean Powell’s house. They stopped to buy canned drinks on the way. Leigh and Pook were already at the house when they arrived.

Naming attackers before d*ath

After the attackers left, Capper managed to climb back up the embankment and walk along the lane for about a quarter of a mile (400 meters) to Compstall Road, despite her extensive burns. At 06:10, Barry Sutcliffe and two colleagues found her while on their way to work.

They immediately took her to a nearby house and woke up the residents, Michael and Margaret Coop, to call for an ambulance. Michael Coop described her condition, saying her hands looked like ash, her legs were severely injured, and her feet were badly charred. He was struck by her politeness as she constantly thanked his wife for her help. Margaret Coop tried to comfort her, but Capper pulled away because she couldn’t bear to be touched. Her head was shaved and she had recent cuts on her head. Her face was almost unrecognizable, and her hands and legs were badly damaged. She couldn’t tolerate anything near her legs.

Capper managed to drink six glasses of water, but she couldn’t hold the glass herself due to her hand injuries. She was rushed to the hospital where she provided the names of her six attackers and Powell’s address before falling into a coma. Her burns were so severe that her mother and stepfather couldn’t recognize her, and she was positively identified through a partial fingerprint from her thumb, the only part of her hands that wasn’t severely burned. She passed away on December 18, 1992, without regaining consciousness.


Detective Inspector Peter Wall, from Greater Manchester Police, led the inquiry into Capper’s d*ath. At 07:30 on December 14, he ordered officers to go to 97 Langworthy Road and arrest everyone found there. Jean Powell and McNeilly were arrested while laughing and joking with each other. Initially, all six individuals denied involvement, but under questioning, Dudson, who had been encouraged by his father to tell the truth, started talking.

D.I. Wall was amazed by Dudson’s statement, saying, “As the story unfolded, we couldn’t believe it. I kept wondering how one person could do this to another.” The police officers were moved to tears when they learned the extent of Suzanne’s suffering. Together with the civilian staff at the station, they collected money to send flowers to her in the hospital.

On December 17, 1992, the six accused appeared before magistrates in Manchester and were remanded in custody, facing charges of kidn*pping and attempted m*rder. After Capper’s d*ath, they were additionally charged with her m*rder on December 23, 1992.


The inquest was opened by Leonard Gorodkin at Manchester Coroner’s Court on January 8, 1993. Dr. William Lawler, a Home Office pathologist, testified that Capper suffered 75-80 percent burns, which were consistent with being splashed with petrol and set on fire. He mentioned that her chances of survival were minimal and stated, “It was clear from the beginning that Suzanne was unlikely to survive. She had extensive burns leading to internal complications, ultimately resulting in her d*ath.”

The coroner acknowledged the tremendous pain Capper must have endured and the impossibility of her survival. However, he noted that she fortunately survived long enough to provide crucial information that led to the arrest of the individuals involved in her d*ath. The coroner extended his deepest sympathy and condolences to Capper’s mother and stepfather, speaking not only on his behalf but on behalf of the entire nation, acknowledging the tragic event that occurred to their young daughter.


The trial started on November 16, 1993, and lasted for 22 days. All six individuals denied committing m*rder, and in their testimonies, each defendant tried to downplay their involvement in the crime.

The jury began their deliberations on December 16, 1993, and it took them nine hours and fifty-two minutes to reach their verdicts. Mr Justice Potts stated, “All of you have been found guilty based on clear evidence of an incredibly terrible m*rder.”

On November 24, Clifford Pook was acquitted of m*rder under the instructions of Mr Justice Potts.

Verdicts and sentences

Bernadette McNeilly was found guilty of m*rder and received a life imprisonment sentence, with a minimum term of 25 years. In 2013, the minimum term was reduced by one year. She was also found guilty of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm and received a 20-year sentence. McNeilly pleaded guilty to false imprisonment, resulting in a 20-year sentence.

Jean Powell was found guilty of m*rder and received a life imprisonment sentence, with a minimum term of 25 years. She was also found guilty of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm and received a 20-year sentence. Powell pleaded guilty to false imprisonment, resulting in a 20-year sentence.

Glyn Powell was found guilty of m*rder and received a life imprisonment sentence, with a minimum term of 25 years. He was also found guilty of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm, receiving a 20-year sentence. Powell was additionally found guilty of false imprisonment, resulting in a 20-year sentence.

Jeffrey Leigh pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and received a 12-year sentence. However, he was acquitted of m*rder and conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm.

Anthony Michael Dudson was found guilty of m*rder and detained indefinitely, with a minimum term of 18 years. In 2002, the minimum term was reduced by two years. He was also found guilty of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm, receiving a 15-year sentence. Dudson pleaded guilty to false imprisonment, resulting in a 15-year sentence.

Clifford Pook pleaded guilty to conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm, receiving a 15-year sentence. He also pleaded guilty to false imprisonment, resulting in a 15-year sentence. However, Pook was acquitted of m*rder.

After the sentences were announced, two jurors cried, and there were shouts of “Yes! Yes!” from the public gallery, which was filled with the victim’s relatives. D.I. Wall stated in a press release following the sentencing, “Psychological reports indicate that these individuals are completely sane. It’s alarming that they are ordinary people with nothing special about them.”


Leigh appealed his sentence, and it was reduced from 12 years to 9 years on November 4, 1994. In 2002, Dudson’s minimum term was cut from 18 years to 16 years. Dudson appealed again, arguing that the reduction was insufficient and that the Lord Chief Justice failed to consider Dudson’s well-being. On November 21, 2003, Lord Justice Kennedy and Mr Justice Mackay dismissed this second appeal. In 2009, he was moved to an open prison.

Jean Powell and McNeilly were allowed to review the lengths of their minimum sentences at the Court of Appeal in June 2012. McNeilly’s sentence was reduced by one year.

McNeilly prison controversy

In 1996, while she was in HM Prison Durham, a routine security check uncovered letters that revealed McNeilly had been having an affair with the prison governor, Mike Martin. The married officer resigned before facing disciplinary action. McNeilly, who was sharing a wing with Rosemary West and Myra Hindley, was immediately transferred to HM Prison New Hall.

Releases from prison

Leigh was released from prison before his sentence ended in 1998, and Pook was freed in May 2001. They were both let go on probation.

Dudson was set free in 2013 after his minimum 18-year term was reduced by two years in 2002.

McNeilly was granted parole in 2015 after her minimum 25-year sentence was reduced by one year. She was praised for being a well-behaved prisoner.

Jean Powell was released in 2017.

Glyn Powell was released on probation in May 2023.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article M*rder of Suzanne Capper, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

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