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Netflix set to screen tale of Ulster maid's murder rap

By Laura Abernethy

A 'Making a Murderer'-style drama based on the historic story of a housemaid from Ulster jailed for 30 years for murder and then pardoned is set to appear on Netflix.

Grace Marks was born in Ulster in 1828 and emigrated to Canada with her family in 1840 at the age of 12.

Now the story of how she was jailed for the killing of her employer and his mistress at a farm near Toronto is set to be turned into a true crime series. It will reportedly be shown on the internet streaming service Netflix.

Marks was accused of helping to kill the wealthy farmer Captain Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper and lover Nancy Montgomery in 1843.

Another Irish servant, James McDermott, admitted the murder but said he was under Marks' spell and claimed she was the mastermind.

Marks, who was 16 at the time, was tried alongside McDermott. He was hanged for the crime but her sentence was reduced from death to life imprisonment because of her "feeble sex" and "extreme youth".

She was initially committed to an asylum as she began to suffer delusions and was then transferred to Kingston Penitentiary, but after almost 30 years she was pardoned and released. She adopted the name Mary Whitney and moved to New York.

According to The Sunday Times, the television series of her story has been bought by Netflix and is based on a 1996 novel called Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. During research for the novel, Atwood found discrepancies in the historical accounts and the series will consider both sides of the trial before letting the viewers decide.

It is due to begin filming in Canada in October.

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