Schizophrenic woman not guilty of murdering girl, 7, stabbed to death in park

A woman who stabbed a seven-year-old girl to death in front of her parents in a park on Mother’s Day has been found not guilty of her murder today. 

Eltiona Skana used a craft knife to slash the neck of Emily Jones in a seemingly random attack in Queen’s Park, Bolton.

The 30-year-old had been accused of Emily’s murder but on the seventh day of her trial at Manchester Crown Court, the jury was told the prosecution were discontinuing the case.

In a dramatic move, prosecutor Michael Brady said there was now no realistic prospect of a conviction and the judge Mr Justice Wall asked the jury to formally return a not guilty verdict.

Emily Jones was killed by Skana as she was riding her scooter through Queen's Park, Bolton, on Mother's Day

Emily Jones was killed by Skana as she was riding her scooter through Queen's Park, Bolton, on Mother's Day

Emily Jones was killed by Skana as she was riding her scooter through Queen’s Park, Bolton, on Mother’s Day

Emily had visited Queen’s Park in Bolton with her father Mark Jones and mother Sarah Barnes on March 22, this year. 

Prior to the attack, which happened around 2.15pm, a woman – believed to be Skana – had been spotted in the park by a witness who described her as as looking ‘agitated’ and with a ‘vacant’ look on her face.   

Michael Brady QC, prosecuting, told the court that although Emily’s mother was no longer in a relationship with her father she’d gone for a run in the park and had arranged to meet both of them there.

Emily, who’d been doing ‘laps’ on her scooter, spotted her mother in the distance.

She told her father, ‘Daddy, daddy. I want to go to mum’ and she’d scooted off.

Emily also called out to her mother, who didn’t hear her due to distance between them and the fact she was hearing headphones.

The court heard how Skana – a paranoid schizophrenic – was sitting on a bench and armed with a craft knife that was one of a pack of three she’d bought earlier that day from a shop in Bolton town centre.

She stood up as Emily rode past her on a scooter and in ‘one movement slit her throat’ with the craft knife and thew her to the ground. 

Mr Brady said: ‘Emily’s path towards her mum took her past the defendant who, as Emily scooted by, grabbed her and in one movement slit her throat with the craft knife and then threw her to the ground.

‘There had been no interaction between Emily and the defendant. The wound was unsurvivable and Emily died shortly after.’

Skana ran off still armed with the knife but at some point placed it in her backpack, where it was later recovered.

Mr Brady said a passer-by, Tony Canty, who been out for a walk with his wife and daughter witnessed Skana ‘manhandling’ and ‘screaming’ at Emily and pushing her to the ground.

Skana screamed: ‘She tried to kill me.’

She then repeated it as she ran past Mr Canty.

At that stage, Mr Canty ‘had no idea how serous the situation was, he hadn’t seen a knife and didn’t realise that Emily had been fatally wounded,’ Mr Brady said.

But he was ‘sufficiently’ concerned to run after Skana, with his wife shouting after him that she had a knife.

He briefly lost sight of Skana but soon caught up with her and either ‘barged or pushed’ her to the ground.

Skana fell on to her back and Mr Canty was able to detain her until the police arrived.

Mr Brady said that as Mr Canty sat on top Skana she started rambling about the ‘Home Office, her family and that he had killed ‘the girl.’

When Mr Canty telephoned and told them that a young girl had been involved, Skana responded: ‘I’m a girl, I’m a child.’

The seven-year-old had been riding to meet her mother when the defendant sprang from a bench, grabbed her and cut her throat with a craft knife she had bought that morning. Pictured, officers at the scene

The seven-year-old had been riding to meet her mother when the defendant sprang from a bench, grabbed her and cut her throat with a craft knife she had bought that morning. Pictured, officers at the scene

The seven-year-old had been riding to meet her mother when the defendant sprang from a bench, grabbed her and cut her throat with a craft knife she had bought that morning. Pictured, officers at the scene

Psychiatric experts had told the jury that she had a history of mental illness, had paranoid schizophrenia and had killed Emily in a psychotic episode.

But the prosecution had claimed that she was hiding behind the diagnosis and had planned to kill. 

Today, prosecution barrister Michael Brady QC told the jury that the Crown Prosecution Service would no longer pursue a murder charge and asked them to find Skana not guilty of that offence.

Speaking to the jury, he said the prosecution had decided that was ‘no longer any realistic prospect of conviction’ for murder.

‘This is not a decision that has been taken lightly by the Crown,’ he said. ‘It’s a decision taken with care and mindful of the sensitivity of this case.’

He explained that the decision to drop the charge had come following evidence from Dr Saifullah Syed Afghan – a consultant forensic psychiatrist who is treating Skana at Rampton Hospital.

He told the court he had no ‘alternative’ explanation for her actions on March 22, aside from previous explanations of psychosis brought on by her diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia.

The jury then found Skana not guilty of murder.

The sentencing for manslaughter is expected to take place next Tuesday.

Link hienalouca.com

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