Simon McMinn death: Drug dealer, 19, jailed for stabbing artist and father in Skipton park

A drug dealer has been jailed for stabbing a man to death in a North Yorkshire park.

Brooklyn Bell, 19, killed Simon McMinn in Aireville Park in Skipton last July after an argument about Bell trying to sell cocaine to schoolchildren.

Bell, from Keighley, worked for a county lines drug gang based in West Yorkshire.

He had travelled to Aireville Park to sell drugs, including £60 worth of heroin and crack cocaine to Mr McMinn, a talented artist, and his friend.

Brooklyn Bell

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Mr McMinn and Bell started to quarrel and Bell stabbed 44-year-old Mr McMinn, once to the chest and twice to the back, then fled the scene leaving him to die.

Bell was also convicted for a similar attack against a man in Bournemouth when he was just 16 years old and dealing for a London-based gang.

He stabbed the 54-year-old man in the back three times with a flick knife following a minor disagreement.

The victim suffered a collapsed lung and needed emergency surgery but survived.

He went on the run, writing drill rap lyrics glorifying the stabbing and boasting that he wouldn’t be caught.

“I left that crime scene happy. No evidence. So the feds can’t catch me,” he wrote.

While on the run, Bell went to Skipton on the afternoon of July 28 last year to sell drugs, and claimed to have sold about £500 worth of drugs before meeting McMinn that evening.

Witnesses who saw Bell in Aireville Park described him as “looking dodgy” and said the do-rag he wore on his head and his low-slung jeans made him stand out.

Mr McMinn and his friend approached Bell to buy drugs, but Mr McMinn also challenged him after he had discovered that Bell had offered cocaine to a 14-year-old schoolboy earlier in the day.

The argument escalated and Bell plunged a knife into his victim three times. He then ran off.

Bell got a taxi back to Keighley as police and paramedics responded to a 999 call from Mr McMinn’s friend and tried to save Mr McMinn’s life. However, Mr McMinn suffered severe blood loss from internal injuries which sadly resulted in his death.

North Yorkshire Police’s Major Investigation Team launched a large-scale investigation to gather evidence and to identify a suspect.

Officers who searched the scene found a balaclava that had been dropped nearby and recovered drug wraps, both of which were found to contain traces of Bell’s DNA.

The MIT’s investigations led officers to addresses of Bell’s associates and family in both Keighley and Huddersfield in a quest to arrest Bell. This resulted in Bell handing himself in at Huddersfield Police Station three days later.

He had shaved his distinctive dreadlocks and disposed of his clothing, mobile phone, and the weapon used in the attack.

When arrested and interviewed, Bell refused to answer any questions but was charged with murder and remanded in to custody to face trial.

North Yorkshire Police then worked closely with Dorset Police to investigate the Bournemouth incident, resulting in Bell being further charged.

Bradford Crown Court heard how Bell claimed to be a low-status drug pusher for a county lines drugs gangs from urban areas that infiltrate smaller rural towns and sell drugs by phone using a network of dealers. He used a phone line to deliver drug orders around West and North Yorkshire.

Following trial in January 2022, Bell was found not guilty of murder, but found guilty of the manslaughter of Simon McMinn.

Today at the same court, he was jailed for a total of 10 years and four months for manslaughter, grievous bodily harm and supplying heroin and crack cocaine.

In mitigation, the court heard Bell was of low intelligence and had experienced poor parenting and a lack of role models.

However, the judge said he became willingly involved in drug dealing in West Yorkshire and craved a “hard man image”. He said he was satisfied Bell took the knife with him to the meeting in the park, which Bell had denied.

The judge gave Bell an extended three-year licence period when he is released from prison after ruling he was a danger to the public.

Detective Inspector Steve Menzies led a major investigation into the killing of Mr McMinn.

After Bell was sentenced, DI Menzies said: “Simon McMinn was a son, brother, and father who lost his life in Aireville Park in Skipton through the illegal carrying of a knife.

“It’s a sad indictment to the damage drugs do to communities, and the devastation they bring to families. While I know Mr McMinn’s family are heartbroken by their loss, I hope Bell’s sentence brings some comfort to them.

“County lines drug dealing adds another dimension, importing misery and conflict into otherwise low-crime communities such as Craven.

“We have dedicated teams that work tirelessly to rid our communities of drugs and prevent dealers from other areas ruining North Yorkshire.”