The children waited for the man to leave then “jumped down over her body” and ran to town to seek help, says Townsend in The Secret Life of Sue Townsend (Aged 68¾), which includes footage filmed by a friend in 2005 but never previously broadcast.Townsend, who died at the age of 68 in 2014, never drew on the incident directly in her writing but suggests that it did have a profound influence on her.Arriving at a sweet shop run by “a bloke called Mr Gibson”, Townsend gabbled out her story.”But he disbelieved us and told us to get out.” Within days the children were vindicated when police charged Reynolds with the murder of Janet, who was killed with her own school tie.Reynolds confessed and was hanged five months later. “My memory is of me at eight being an adult being grown-up, and coping in a grown-up way with things that little children shouldn’t have to cope with. It is also astonishing how many writers have suffered similar things. It turns you in on yourself. You become very aware of atmosphere. You notice things.” Sue Townsend, the late author of the Adrian Mole series, witnessed a child being strangled in the woods when she was eight years old, a new documentary reveals.In 1953, the then Susan Johnstone hid in a tree with of friends in a wood near her Leicester home while she watched helplessly as 12-year-old Janet Warner was murdered by Joseph Reynolds, a labourer from Dublin.”My memory was that he was dragging her by the throat and he strangled her,” Townsend recalls in previously unseen footage to be shown on BBC2 on Saturday. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. ‘Sue would tell me what really upset her was that she was not believed by that shopkeeper’Colin Broadway Townsend’s widower, Colin Broadway, recalled last week his late wife talking about the incident.”Sue would tell me what really upset her was that she was not believed by that shopkeeper,” he was reported as saying by The Sunday Times.”She felt this was probably because she came from the wrong side of the tracks.”Townsend, who established herself as one of Britain’s most renowned comic writers, came from humble roots.Her father was a postman and her mother worked as an assistant in a school canteen. She left school at 15 with no qualifications and married her childhood sweetheart Keith Townsend at the age of 18.Three children followed. Townsend was first diagnosed with diabetes in the Eighties; she went blind in 2001, and then needed a new kidney. She also suffered from degenerative arthritis and major heart problems.