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Murderer’s ‘I’m innocent’ phone call to newspaper

Andrew HirstThe moment a murderer called a regional daily’s newsdesk to protest her innocence has been recalled by its head of content.

Andrew Hirst took the phone call at the Huddersfield Daily Examiner’s offices from Nicola Bedford following her arrest on suspicion of the murder of Martin Ackroyd, an offence she was eventually found guilty of on Tuesday.

The Examiner did not reveal the fact the call had been taken at the time for fear of prejudicing any future trial, but following the verdict Andrew took to its website to post of his experience.

Andrew, pictured left, said the encounter was “as unexpected as it was strange”.

He wrote: “I’ve taken a few bizarre phone calls over my years at the Examiner but this one really came out of the blue.

“All we knew at the time was a woman had been arrested on suspicion of the murder of Martin Ackroyd.

“The newsdesk phone rang one Sunday lunchtime a couple of days later and a woman at the other end claimed she was the person who had been arrested.

“She said her name was Nicola Bedford, said the arrest had been a mistake as there was no evidence linking her to the killing and she’d soon be released from her bail without charge.

“The odd thing was we didn’t know her name until she phoned. At that point she’d not appeared in court.

“She then went on to talk openly about how she’d been at the house when Mr Ackroyd was killed, blaming it all on her co-accused, Surjit Singh Sidhu.”

Bradford Crown Court heard Bedford had previously been in a relationship with Mr Ackroyd, but she then began an affair with Sidhu, who had admitted the father-of-three’s murder.

Mr Ackroyd had offered a home to Bedford, a prostitute and drug addict, but she and Sidhu attacked him.

They beat him, suffocated him with a plastic bag over his head and then strangled him with a length of electrical flex.

They then dumped his body in a bath and returned to his flat the following day to try and clear up the murder scene.

During her conversation with Andrew after the murder Bedford, pictured below, told him she was in another room while the killing was taking place but was too terrified of Sidhu to do anything to stop it.

Andrew added: “She kept asking me if the police had enough evidence to charge her based on what she was telling me.

“What could I say? I was non-committal. And now Bedford’s been convicted and faces life imprisonment that original phone call to her local newspaper proclaiming her innocence before she was charged seems even weirder.

“What was her motive that day? All I can think is that she was desperate to avoid a murder charge and she was wanting someone to assure her that, based on the evidence she was telling me, I’d think she was innocent.

“I couldn’t give her that assurance that day. And now justice has had the ultimate say.”