Such was the tragedy of Angela Wrightson's existence that when she was beaten to death at 39, she could have easily passed for twice that.

A chronic alcoholic, she was so frail she had to wear several layers of clothing to keep warm, even in summer.

Her features were marked with scars from various drunken scrapes and her almost translucent skin hung loosely from her face.

A well-known character in Hartlepool, she was popular with teenagers who persuaded her to buy alcohol and cigarettes for them.


When drunk she had a habit of making nuisance 999 calls and would sometimes lie in the middle of the road, leading to frequent arrests and court appearances.

But despite her numerous problems, "Alco Angie", as she was known, was regarded with affection by many of her neighbours in Stephen St.

When sober she was kind, caring and friendly, and a regular at her local church.

Well-known for her love of animals she offered refuge to strays and despite her condition always kept her home meticulously clean.

Friends insisted she was desperate to turn her life around, but unable to break the alcohol addiction.

Born in Darlington, County Durham, she was one of eight children and her upbringing was not dissimilar to those of the two girls who were to eventually kill her.

Brought up in care she had little contact with her family and was well known to the police and social services.

Ms Wrightson went to the shop for the girls on the night she was killed. Photo / Cleveland Police
Ms Wrightson went to the shop for the girls on the night she was killed. Photo / Cleveland Police

Donna Jenkins, a hairdresser, who was one of Angela's closest friends, described her as a "lost soul".

According to friends, her life really spiralled out of control when her boyfriend died several years ago.

Ms Jenkins explained: "She met a man called Billy and would talk about him a lot. I got the impression that this was the happiest period of Angie's life.

"I think his death hit her hard and her own condition worsened over the last two to three years."

Other friends said she suffered from loneliness, which was why she would allow young people to visit her at her home.

Neighbour Alan Dixon said: "She was a kind, trusting, decent woman who was lovely when sober, but she was vulnerable in drink and she was taken advantage of by kids.

"They preyed on her because she was too kind-hearted to turn them away. They wanted her for drink, which they would steal from her and if she refused them they would turn nasty."

She was found dead by her landlord and had suffered more than 100 separate injuries. In court the jury was told she begged for mercy as she was beaten. She received none.