Crime writer’s showroom talk raises £1,700 for hospice

Time 1:35 pm, May 31, 2013

image002A NORTHUMBERLAND car retailer has made a killing for its chosen charity by hosting the launch of a major new book about an infamous Victorian mass murderer.

Blackshaws Nissan in Alnwick was packed with more than 280 paying guests as Britain’s leading criminologist, Professor David Wilson, introduced his latest work, Mary Ann Cotton – Britain’s First Female Serial Killer, and answered questions.

Proceeds of around £1,700 went to HospiceCare North Northumberland.

The high turnout showed that fascination with Cotton still runs high in the North East of England.

Cotton committed her crimes across the region against the backdrop of the Industrial Revolution and was executed in 1873 for the murder of her stepson, Charles Edward Cotton.

Despite being linked with up to 20 other killings, many people believed she was wrongly convicted and was herself the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

However, in researching the book, Professor Wilson, famous as the presenter of Channel 5’s Killers Behind Bars, uncovered crucial new evidence he says proves she was actually a serial killer. In it, he links her directly to the deaths of 17 people, making her a more prolific murderer than the likes of Jack the Ripper and Dennis Nilsen.

Susan Blackshaw of Blackshaws Nissan on Lionheart Enterprise Park, Alnwick, said: ‘Professor Wilson has spoken at the dealership previously, raising lots of money for HospiceCare North Northumberland, so he decided to come back to launch his new book here.

Overwhelmed by the response

‘Mary Ann Cotton is infamous across the North East and lots of people are familiar with the nursery rhyme about her, so we always knew there would be interest in the event. But we were overwhelmed by the response.

‘There was standing room only in the showroom. It was absolutely packed to the rafters.

‘The event was a great success and Professor Wilson’s talk was as captivating as ever. And, of course, we were thrilled to have raised so much money for such a worthwhile cause.’

Julie Frost, PR Co-ordinator for HospiceCare North Northumberland, said: ‘We’re delighted with the success of this event and would like to thank all of those who came along on the night and the Blackshaws family and team for their continued support.

‘We need to generate £300,000 a year to deliver our services for people with life-limiting illnesses and their families and carers across North Northumberland.

‘However, we only get 12 per cent of our running costs from the NHS so we rely on events such as this to find the rest.’

  • Mary Ann Cotton – Britain’s First Female Serial Killer, published by Waterside Press, is available now from Amazon.
  • For more details about HospiceCare North Northumberland visit


Dave Brown's avatar

Dave, production editor on Car Dealer Magazine, is a journalist with more than 30 years' experience in the worlds of newspapers, magazines and public relations.

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