Friday, November 4, 2016

The Story Of Steph.

I would like you to imagine sitting with your editor and outlining the story of the next novel.

The main character is going to be a girl called Steph who doesn’t exist, but we will come back to that later. Steph has an online prescence on one of the more seedy [free] dating websites. Steph seems to hone in on men working in the armed forces in Scotland but still based away from home. Steph then corners Michael an RAF engineer. This is an intelligent 31 year old man who attaches wings to fighter planes. ( An important job so he's not a total numpty). 

Steph then suffers some horrific disease and needs some revolutionary stem cell treatment courtesy of Biotech Scotland (which you will not find on google as it doesn’t exist). The treatment goes dreadfully wrong and over the next year Steph is moved from hospital to hospital – at one point she is raped by a physiotherapist, she then has a heart transplant and two of her doctors are poisoned by anthrax injection (at this point a good editor would point out that anthrax should be inhaled not injected, but anyway onwards).

Biotech, in collusion with the 'Government' become involved in a plot to force everybody who knows about Steph and the treatment to sign a legally binding document effectively silencing them. If they speak of this at all it's 20 years in jail or worse. However there is also a legal claim going on against Biotech (apart from the fact that the lawyers keep dying of anthrax) which could result in a large financial settlement i favour of Steph. If Steph gets engaged to Michael. A £1500 ring is bought and handed to 'Linsey.'  Michael, (the boyfriend) his mother and his sister start looking at expensive properties online in lieu of the settlement.

 The family have all to give a written report to the European Court of Human Rights via an attachment on an email that sounds something like vouching that Steph is a wonderful person.

 Michael’s sister writes a report that is pleasant but not overly effusive in her admiration for the tragic Steph. All the while a lady called Linsey (part time barmaid) comes on the scene as Steph’s mother/aunt/friend/carer and she sticks close to Michael’s side often texting him once every 1 and a half minutes during his wakening hours. When Michael is not around, Linsey is sporting a lovely new ring on her engagement finger.

Of course nobody has ever met Steph as she doesn’t exist. Well, not that Steph.

I hope all that sounds quite funny and really rather ridiculous but it is the true story (to be clear the story of the scam is the true story) behind the tragic suicide pact of Margaret and Nicola.  I felt I couldn't put any images on this blog - it's too sad, too tragic.

(;postID=4402977018729297448;onPublishedMenu=editor;onClosedMenu=editor;postNum=1;src=link) from 17th May 2013 on Murdr Is Everywhere. Or
to see pics of the main players.

The Steph situation had been known as 'the story' and the family were genuinely terrified that they were going to go to jail for a breach of confidentiality.

But what led the mother and the daughter to commit suicide in such a horrific way that one of the audience members at the lecture last night fainted at the pathology images. It looked as though they had attacked themselves with a machete. And even that doesn't make sense - why not OD and peacefully sleep away?

The detective in charge of the case kept stressing that these were intelligent people but I can’t ever imagine myself allowing a son of mine to get so involved with a woman he had never met or indeed believing that the European Court of Human Rights communicates by texts using text speak and terrible spelling.  There was 140 000 pieces of telephony evidence to be shifted through - it was all relevant to the case.

The detective in charge wanted to prosecute Linsey for culpable homicide ie driving two people to suicide but the procurator fiscal (the district attorney) that that would not stand up and it could only be fraud. Lynsey pleaded guilty in front of a sheriff who made it very clear in his sentencing that he was annoyed that he could only sentence her for the maximum she could get for the actual crime she had pleaded guilty to – 3 years 10 months.

But there was a  huge stroke of intervention by a greater power, the guilty party died in Cornton Vale prison of natural causes 6 months into her sentence. She was 33.

I am about the same age as the mother and I cannot bring myself to believe that a normal intelligent woman with 4 children and 2 foster children – one whom she was going to adopt and the other young enough to be in nursery/kindergarten would allow the scenario above to engage her in a suicide pact with her 23 year old daughter – because the document to the European Court of Human Rights had not been glowing in its appreciation of the brave Steph – I just can’t see it at all.

As a writer what I did see was a close resemblance between the real Steph (Linsey's step grandfather's niece) and a picture of Nicola when she was blonde and compare that to the lady the detective described as a ‘sloth’ Linsey. The other two seemed lively and vivacious.

But as the detective said at the end of the lecture, Colin Dexter would have had trouble writing that plot for Morse to sort out.

I'm not even sure this blog makes sense. None of this tragedy does.

Caro Ramsay 05 11 16


  1. You've truly outdone yourself. Confusing, bizarre, my head is spinning, and I'm off to bed. I just hope I don't have nightmares...

  2. It was a horrible yet fascinating lecture to listen to. At the end an eminent Queen's Counsel asked 'Why?'...why would Linsey Cotton do all that. The detective said he had thought long and hard...for £5000?, two deaths for £5000? Or was it the control she had over this entire family, pulling their strings, pushing them to suicide.. just because she could? Truth can be so very strange.

  3. My head is also spinning, Caro. This is bizarre in the EXTREME. I am so glad that I never tried to write a contemporary crime novel. Today's people are just too strange for me to imagine as fiction.

  4. It is a true story that I am sure, one day, will be made into a film or a 'fictionalised account of', except that I have no idea how anybody could write that and make it believable. The detective kept saying 'these are not stupid people.' Even two days after the deaths of the mother and daughter by their horrific self inflicted injuries, the family kept quiet about Steph and the story as they thought they would be jailed. It was two chance remarks - one by Nicola's (the daughter) ex boyfriend 'she was worried about "the story"' and one by Nicola's lecturer - 'she was worried about an up and coming court case'. That was her talking about being summoned to the European Court... by a badly spelled text!! And that made the police think there was some kind of con going on that the family were too scared to speak of.

  5. I never ceased to be amazed at how stupid intelligent people can be, given the right circumstances.

  6. The question I have is how much of the American electorate would likely believe it... and how much would try to commit it.

    I'm sad to say, but once as a lawyer I was involved in a case involving a psychological twin to LInsey. That one conned an intelligent man-about-town into marrying her--conning her OWN FAMILY in the process. He walked away the night before the wedding as the result of celebrities she claimed to know coming forward and saying she had made it all up. Luckily no one died, but there are some real sicko con artists out there who have an uncanny ability to read a mark's psyche. Frightening.

    Thankfully, readers of MIE have EvKa as a benchmark for sanity, Caro.

    1. Thanks for the thought, Jeff, I'm just not sure if I'm coming or going.