Amazing 'crime of passion' as man and his lover drugged his wife with morphine at Scarborough house they all shared

A bizarre “menage-a-trois” culminated in a woman being drugged with morphine by her husband and his lover at the house they all shared in Scarborough.

Sunday, 13th December 2020, 4:26 pm
Updated Sunday, 13th December 2020, 4:54 pm

Richard Gell, 42, from Filey, and his former partner Jessica Coote-Sellers, 30, plotted to drug the victim so Gell could get access to her mobile phone to see if she was having an affair, York Crown Court heard.

The potentially “catastrophic” crime of passion occurred at the home in Scarborough which Gell shared with the victim and Coote-Sellers, with whom he had also been in a sexual relationship.

Prosecutor Michael Bosomworth said Gell was convinced that the victim, now his ex-wife, was having an affair and hatched a plan to find out if this was true.

Richard Gell and his former partner Jessica Coote-Sellers

During the shocking and “highly unusual” incident in August 2017, Coote-Sellers, from Staxton, “prepared” a noxious mixture while Gell sent her a text message saying, “Hurry up”.

Gell had drugged the victim with an Oramorph tablet - a morphine derivative - which was apparently dissolved in a soft drink or cup of tea.

The named victim was “sent to sleep” but Gell couldn’t prise her fingers apart as he had hoped, with the intention of using her fingerprint ID to get into her phone.

Mr Bosomworth said the victim had no idea what had happened but, mercifully, wasn’t physically injured.

The “menage-a-trois” - in which Gell and the two women had been living together, on and off, for three years - finally came to an end following Gill’s acrimonious split with Coote-Sellers, who described him as “controlling and coercive”.

For the next few years, the two women kept in touch and in January 2019, Coote-Sellers told the victim: “I can tell you something, but it will probably land me with a charge.”

She said Gell had drugged the victim because he was jealous about a “supposed affair” and that he wanted to find proof by looking at her phone records.

“She told (the victim) that (Gell) had drugged her to get her fingerprint (but) was unable to unlock her finger,” said Mr Bosomworth.

Gell’s intention was to render the victim unconscious and “get her hands apart, put her finger on the phone, examine the phone and get proof of (an) adulterous affair”.

“This is somewhat hypocritical given the fact that (Gell) himself was in an adulterous relationship with (Coote-Sellers),” added Mr Bosomworth.

The victim said she was shocked and felt “degraded” by the horrendous act which she couldn’t even remember.

She added: “It makes me feel violated. I can’t understand why they did it.”

Despite Coote-Sellers’ revelations, it was she who obtained the morphine from a family friend before passing it on to Gell, said Mr Bosomworth.

He added: “Neither defendant knew how (the victim) would react (or) what dose to administer. There could have been catastrophic consequences.”

Whatsapp messages from the time of the incident, later retrieved by police, showed Coote-Sellers asking Gell: “What’s happening?”.

Gell replied: “Nowt. I can’t get any more of this (morphine) into her. I can’t get her hands apart.”

Police also found pictures on the text messages of the victim fast asleep, or comatose.

Following Coote-Sellers’ bizarre revelations to the victim, she and Gell were arrested.

Coote-Sellers, of Stack Yard Lane, immediately owned up to her part in the strange episode.

Gell, of West Avenue, Filey, denied administering the drug and tried to pin the blame on his former lover.

He told police he had “no idea why Coote-Sellers had moved in with him” and claimed she was “feeding him information” about the victim’s supposed affair.

Gell ultimately admitted administering a poisonous or noxious substance with intent to injure or aggrieve. Coote-Sellers admitted the same charge. They appeared for sentence on Thursday.

The court heard that the victim had married Gell in 2009 but the relationship soon began to deteriorate due to Gell’s “controlling, abusive and coercive” behaviour.

In about 2014, with the marriage already on the rocks, they moved to a new house in the Scarborough area. Coote-Sellers, who had known Gell for “some considerable time”, moved in with them and an affair began.

“(The victim) was sleeping on a mattress in the living room,” said Mr Bosomworth.

“She wanted to end the relationship but found herself unable to do so.”

In 2018, following the morphine incident, Gell was given a suspended prison sentence and slapped with a restraining order for harassing the victim.

Coote-Sellers said she was afraid of Gell whom she described as a “Jekyll and Hyde” character who had been violent towards her and the victim.

She said Gell had pressured her into getting the drugs by way of “emotional blackmail”.

However, the court heard that Cootes had 10 previous convictions, mainly for theft but also battery.

Taryn Turner, for Gell, said: “It’s clear that this case is riddled with passion and it doesn’t paint a flattering picture of Richard Gell…(or) his attitude towards women.”

Andrew Semple, for Coote-Sellers, said she had “volunteered information” to the victim out of “genuine remorse”.

He said that Coote-Sellers, who left Gell in about 2018, felt “trapped” by her then lover.

Judge Simon Hickey said the “bizarre menage-a-trois” had culminated in the “premeditated, deliberate targeting of the victim which could have caused an “extremely serious reaction (to the drug) and a “life-changing” injury.

Gell was jailed for 18 months. Coote-Sellers was given a 16-month prison term because she had played a “willing role”.