Nicola Bedford was this morning found guilty of the murder of Martin Ackroyd in his Newsome flat earlier this year.

Prostitute Bedford, of Thornhill Lees, had previously been in a relationship with Mr Ackroyd.

But she then began an affair with fellow murderer Surjit Singh Sidhu, who admitted Mr Ackroyd's murder.

Mr Ackroyd had offered a home to Bedford, who was also a 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.

The callous killers then dumped his body in a bath and returned to the Ashenhurst Rise flat the following day to try and clear up the murder scene.

The phone call

It was certainly as unexpected as it was strange.

I've taken a few bizarre phone calls over my years at the Examiner but this one really came out of the blue.

Examiner Head of Content Andrew Hirst
Examiner Head of Content Andrew Hirst

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.

Surjit Singh Sidhu
Surjit Singh Sidhu
 

She reckoned she was in another room while the killing was taking place but was too terrified of Sidhu to do anything to stop it.

And then she let on she remained with him for more than a day afterwards.

I asked the obvious question why she didn't tell the police during that time, but she claimed he had a complete hold over her and she had no chance to contact anyone.

She even admitted they went back to the murder scene and she thought Sidhu was going to put Mr Ackroyd's body in a wheeled bin and take it into nearby woods to bury, but didn't go through with the plan.

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 this is her version of how Sidhu was arrested.

The couple had returned to Marsh and were walking up New Hey Road when they were spotted by a police officer who realised that Sidhu was breaking bail conditions for a previous charge by simply being in her company.

Once he had been detained she went to see a friend and revealed what had happened at the murder scene and the police were alerted.

Sidhu was later charged with murder.

A few days later we were in court to see Bedford facing the same charge.

None of that Sunday conversation could be reported before due to the potential risk of prejudicing a trial.

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.