Billie-Jo's mother in tearful exit from funeral

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The Independent Online
The natural mother of Billie-Jo Jenkins (right) missed her daughter's funeral yesterday, after storming out of the chapel in tears when the murdered teenager's foster mother arrived uninvited. Debbie Woods had specifically asked that the foster mother, Lois Jenkins, should stay away from the packed service in east London for the popular 13-year-old.

Ms Woods entered the chapel after the horse-drawn carriage carrying Billie- Jo's 5ft white coffin had arrived. She was followed by almost 300 of the teenager's friends and relations, clinging to each other for support in their grief, many of whom had made the journey from Billie-Jo's home town of Hastings, East Sussex.

But then Mrs Jenkins, whose estranged husband Sion has been charged with Billie-Jo's murder, arrived for the service with her four daughters. As soon as she walked into the chapel, just moments before the service was due to begin, Ms Woods looked around, saw her and froze in horror.

Mourners watched in shock as Ms Woods then ran out of the chapel in tears followed by her boyfriend. The couple then drove away from the City of London Cemetery and missed the service as well as the burial.

Sion Jenkins, who is currently on bail, did not attend the service. He is accused of bludgeoning Billie-Jo to death as she painted the patio doors of her foster family's home in Hastings on 15 February.

A friend of Ms Woods explained afterwards: "Lois is obviously grieving as much as anyone but she is married to the man charged with murdering Billie-Jo and she should really have respected Debbie's wishes and stayed away to prevent further grief.

"Debbie is heartbroken at not being able to see her daughter being laid to rest. It is a tragedy for her."

However, a friend of Mrs Jenkins defended her, saying: "She loved Billie- Jo so much that she could not bear not to come to the funeral with her four daughters."