On MARCH 16th, 1970, 10-year-old Christine Beck disappeared while on her way from her home to a swimming lesson at a barracks in Colchester where her father, a soldier, was stationed. Her body was later found under an archway in the town, and in July Michael Hanson, a 25-year-old soldier, and his wife Carole, 24, were charged at Hertfordshire Assizes with Christine’s murder.

At their trial the court heard that they had engaged in sex-games with under-age teenagers and children in their home, allowing the youngsters to watch them having intercourse. Hanson was alleged to have killed Christine for sexual pleasure, and his wife was alleged to have encouraged him to commit the murder.

Hanson, however, claimed that his wife had killed the child during an epileptic fit. But Carole Hanson told a different story. She said that although she was in the house, she was downstairs at the time of the murder and had no idea that her husband was going to kill Christine.

Neither account was believed, the couple were convicted, and in sentencing them to life imprisonment Mr. Justice Melford Stevenson said he would recommend that they serve at least 20 years.

Michael Hanson then claimed that his wife was totally innocent, and it emerged that he had told his counsel this during the trial. Hanson claimed he had said nothing before the trial because he wanted his wife to be punished for sleeping with other men.

Dismissing the couple’s appeals, however, the appeal judges believed that Hanson’s claims were simply a ruse to save both their skins: once freed Carole Hanson would say that her husband was innocent.

She subsequently became Britain’s second-longest-serving female prisoner, after Myra Hindley. She continued to maintain she was innocent, and in February 1997 she was found drowned in a bath at Cookham Wood Prison in Kent. Her fellow-prisoners thought she had committed suicide, believing she would never be released, and an open verdict was recorded at her inquest. Michael Hanson too died in prison, in November 2008.