Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Fighter Who Put Her Pain Aside in Order to Help Folk; Tributes Pour in for June Richardson Whose Son Was Strangled to Death by Double Child Killer Mary Bell

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Fighter Who Put Her Pain Aside in Order to Help Folk; Tributes Pour in for June Richardson Whose Son Was Strangled to Death by Double Child Killer Mary Bell

Article excerpt

Byline: JOANNE BUTCHER

VICTIM Bell's first TRIBUTES were today paid to June Richardson - the Tyneside mum who never gave up her fight for justice.

June, whose first born Martin Brown was the first victim of child killer Mary Bell, has died at 68.

Her family believe the grief of losing the four-year-old played a part in her death.

June's world was torn apart when Martin, was strangled by Bell.

But June spent the next 45 years using her heartache to help others.

Today tributes poured in from across the UK to the kind-hearted and devoted grandmother-of-seven.

June was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer just over a year ago, and a course of treatment couldn't help.

Daughter Linda Brown believes her grief contributed to her death.

"When you look at the figures, a lot of people whose children are murdered die from cancer," said the 46-year-old.

"They all follow a similar pattern.

It is all related to the stress."

Martin was the first victim of Bell, who strangled him in a deserted house in the west end of Newcastle in 1968. Bell, who was just 11 at the time, went on to kill three-year-old Brian Howe.

Her crimes sickened the nation and she was detained indefinitely, but was released in 1980 after serving 12 years behind bars.

June was moved to speak out in public in 1998, after writer Gitta Sereny paid Bell for interviews in a book about her early life.

She became an outspoken campaigner for the rights of victims, but always handled herself with dignity and composure despite the pressure of the media spotlight.

She even supported Bell's daugh-ter's bid for anonymity, saying she didn't blame her for the crimes of her mother, although she could never forgive Bell herself.

June felt compelled to reach out to other parents who had suffered, working with the National Victims' Association and Mamaa (Mothers Against Murder And Aggression).

Lyn Costello MBE, the founder of Mamaa, said: "Over many years June campaigned for and supported many parents who have been bereaved by homicide.

"She was a formidable voice in the victims community and her lasting legacy will be the input she had in developing how we have come to understand the trauma that affects these families.

"From a personal point of view, June became a very close and much loved friend and I will miss her greatly."

Linda and her sister Sharon Richardson are hugely proud of the way June would spend hours chatting to families across the UK.

"We are very proud of her," said Sharon, 40. "She put her pain to one side to help others.

"She helped so many families. She could understand what people were going through as she had been there herself. If she could be there for someone, she would be.

"We have had beautiful messages of condolence from all over the country. …

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