Mother guilty of murdering daughters

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A mother who stabbed her two daughters to death as they slept in their beds was convicted of murder today.

Waitress Rekha Kumari-Baker had admitted the manslaughter of Davina Baker, 16, and Jasmine Baker, 13, on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but had denied murder.

However, a jury of seven women and five men convicted her of two counts of murder at Cambridge Crown Court today after deliberating for just 35 minutes.

Kumari-Baker killed the girls with two kitchen knives as they slept in bedrooms at her home in Stretham, Cambridgeshire, in the early hours of June 13, 2007.

Prosecutors said she carried out the murders to "wreak havoc" on ex-husband David Baker.

Her lawyers argued that she was suffering from an "abnormality of mind" which would make her guilty of manslaughter but not murder.

Sentencing was adjourned to tomorrow.

In a hand-written note she left at the murder scene, Kumari-Baker, 41, wrote: "I don't want them to get hurt as I did."

She concluded the note by writing: "My kids will not be a burden to anyone anymore."

A psychiatrist told jurors Kumari-Baker may have been "retaliating" against men.

The court heard that she had been distressed by the ending of her marriage to David Baker, the father of her daughters, and by the break-up of a relationship with boyfriend Jeff Powell.

In the note she wrote: "I didn't want them to get hurt like I did. Jeff hurt me so much I cannot explain."

Psychiatrist Lyle Hamilton - who was called to give evidence by Kumari-Baker's lawyers - said medical literature showed that women had killed children because they were "mentally ill" and because they were a "retaliatory type".

He said Kumari-Baker displayed a combination of both categories.

He said: "I think strains in the relationships with the men - key men - in her life gave rise probably to the idea of some kind of retaliation against not just them as individuals but against men generally - life."

But Dr Neil Hunt, a consultant psychiatrist, told jurors he did not think there was evidence of any mental illness.

He interviewed her on the day she was arrested.

She told him she had woken early in the morning, had a drink, went to the bathroom, then picked up the knives.

Dr Hunt said Ms Kumari-Baker told him she went out for a drive after the attack then returned home and realised she was drenched in blood.

"She said, 'This was not supposed to happen. I love my girls'," Dr Hunt told jurors.

He said: "Given the extreme and unusual behaviour, I was concerned that there was a high chance that she may be suffering from a mental disorder."

But he added: "I didn't think she had any serious mental illness."

Outside court the girls' uncle George Baker read a statement on behalf of his brother David.

He said: "I am pleased with the outcome of the trial and the verdict of the court.

"It does not and cannot, however, compensate for the loss of my daughters Davina and Jasmine.

"Not a day passes when I don't think of my girls.

"I smile now when I remember the good times we had. I remember most of all their love and closeness for each other - sisters together.

"Part of my heart was taken when they died and I long for the day when we shall be reunited.

"Time has passed since their deaths but my sense of loss and pain has eased little.

"I was robbed of my daughters by an act of calculated viciousness by a woman who, having given life to them, in her vindictive mind believed she also had a right to take that life from them.

"She will now pay the price for this.

"I take comfort in the knowledge that I will in time be with my girls again. She will not."

Senior investigating officer in the case DI Jim McCrorie added: "It became clear, as this investigation progressed, that Rekha Kumari-Baker set out to murder her children.

"Only she will know the reasons why she carried out such a vicious and deliberate attack as they lay sleeping in their beds.

"Davina and Jasmine were two innocent young teenagers who were killed by the person they should have been able to trust most in this world.

"In 25 years in the police service I have never before investigated such an upsetting or sickening crime. I am simply pleased that it has now been concluded and hope that this may give some solace to family and friends of both girls."