Daughter breaks down at father's appeal as she recalls day Billie-Jo was murdered

One of the daughters of Sion Jenkins, the teacher convicted of murdering his foster daughter Billie-Jo, broke down in court yesterday as she recalled the day her sister was bludgeoned to death.

Charlotte Jenkins, 18, who flew to London from her home in Tasmania to give evidence at her father's appeal against the conviction, was asked about seeing the body of the dead 13-year-old.

Jenkins, 46, was jailed at Lewes Crown Court in 1998 for battering his foster daughter with a metal tent spike at their home in Hastings, East Sussex. It was alleged that, during a three-minute visit to the house, Jenkins had an argument with Billie-Jo and hit her over the head up to 10 times before driving to a DIY store with Charlotte and her sister Annie.

Annie, 19, in a statement read out at the Court of Appeal yesterday, said her father had "hit" Billie-Jo during a previous incident, and punched her.

Neither daughter was called as a witness in the original trial because Jenkins' defence team, believed they had become hostile to their father. They argue that they gained this impression because of false statements made by Jenkins' wife, Lois, who had allegedly turned against him after becoming convinced he was the killer. The couple have since divorced.

The defence says the accounts given by the daughters show their father's innocence, because they prove he would not have had time to commit the murder during the brief call at the house, and strongly suggest that Billie-Jo was killed by an intruder who gained access to their home by the side gate.

Charlotte broke down and the court was adjourned briefly when her father's defence lawyer, Clare Montgomery, QC, asked about her seeing Billie-Jo's body after returning from the shopping trip in February 1997.

Jenkins listened across a crowded courtroom as Miss Montgomery asked Charlotte if she remembered telling her mother that she "knew" her father had killed Billie-Jo, but did not believe he did it deliberately.

She replied: "I may have, because I was confused and kept changing my mind. I can't remember."

She said that, at no time since the murder, had her father ever asked her to say anything that was not true about that day. He had never asked her about it at all.

Charlotte said her father left the house almost straight after her to drive to the DIY store. She added that she remembered thinking it was weird when he drove round the park twice before heading for the DIY shop and then found he had come out without any money.

She thought the side gate was open when they got back and discovered Billie-Jo's body.

At the end of her evidence, the visibly shaken teenager was told she was free to return home after the Crown counsel - defending the conviction - decided not to cross-examine her.

She left the court in London arm in arm with her mother, who is to be called as a witness by the Crown next week.

Later the court heard extracts of two police interviews with Annie Jenkins, who now lives in Australia.

Miss Montgomery read from a transcript of Annie's statements.

When asked by the police whether she had told her mother that she "knew Sion and Billie-Jo had an argument earlier that day", Annie said that she could not remember saying that.

She added that she could not recall Billie-Jo particularly winding her father up on the day she was killed.

"I don't remember dad being cross with Billie-Jo," she said in relation to his alleged reaction over a row the two girls had had about painting the patio doors.

Police officers also questioned Annie about whether she had noticed any blood on her father's hands or clothes at any time during the day.

She answered: "No. I wasn't really looking."

The three appeal court judges have been told that forensic evidence that microscopic blood spots found on Jenkins' clothing could only have resulted from him being the attacker was now open to serious doubt.

Lord Justice Rose, Mr Justice Curtis and Mr Justice Wakerley are to hear fresh expert evidence that the blood spots were far more likely to have resulted from blood exhaled by the dying girl as Jenkins leant over her to try and help her.

Annie also recalled an incident on a family holiday when her father had lost his temper with Billie-Jo and allegedly hit her.

She stated: "My mum and dad went out. Billie-Jo went wandering out and sprained her ankle and made quite a fuss about it, and dad got quite angry and hit her or something."

In a separate incident, she said her father punched her in the stomach when she argued with Billie-Jo about a CD.

She added that she did not remember an alleged incident when Jenkins is said to have dragged his youngest daughter, Maya, up two flights of stairs by her ears.

The hearing continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?