Teenagers 'stabbed mother and daughter in cold, calculated killings'

Boy and girl were 14 at time of killings, with the boy admitting murder and girl pleading guilty to manslaughter

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The Independent Online

Two teenagers stabbed a mother and daughter through the throat as they slept in “cold, calculated and callous killings”, a court has heard. One of the teenagers – a 15-year-old boy – has already admitted murdering the victims in their semi-detached home ahead of the start of an eight-day trial at Nottingham Crown Court on Monday. A girl, also 15, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter but denies murdering Elizabeth Edwards and her 13-year-old daughter Katie, a jury has been told.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Peter Joyce QC said of the victims: “They were both stabbed through the throat in their beds at their home.” Both teenagers, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, are alleged to have planned the killings before carrying them out at the house in Spalding, Lincolnshire on April 15. The body of 49-year-old Ms Edwards was found lying in bed in her room where she had been repeatedly stabbed, the jury was told, leaving “blood spatters” on the wall, floor, and bedding.

Mr Joyce said a pathologist “found eight sharp force injuries of which five were on her hands, which suggested she may have been trying to fend off her killer.” Ms Edwards had also been stabbed once in the shoulder, and twice – fatally – in the neck with one blow which “almost completely cut through her windpipe”. The Crown's QC added: “The injuries would not have been instantly fatal and there is evidence that Elizabeth Edwards survived for a short time.”

Her daughter was found lying on a mattress in her bedroom with two stab wounds to her neck which suggested “the use of severe force” according to Mr Joyce. The youngster was also discovered with a pillow over her face. Mr Joyce added that a post-mortem concluded she died from “bleeding – haemorrhage – and smothering”.

The jury heard how the boy had four knives in a backpack, including a large black-handled kitchen knife which was shown to jurors. The prosecution barrister said that the boy had then gone into one of the bedrooms where he “pinned Mrs Edwards down on the bed by kneeling astride her”. He added there were noises of a struggle and “gurgling sounds while the killing took place”, before a pillow was placed over the victim's head. Mr Joyce said: “There were blood spatters on the wall – you've seen them, blood on the floor and blood on the bed.”

The boy is alleged to have then checked the victim's pulse, to make sure she was dead. He then went into the young girl's bedroom, while his alleged female accomplice waited in the bathroom, where he stabbed the second victim. Mr Joyce said: “From post-mortem findings it seems probable that Katie was smothered with a pillow and also from the position of her body she may have tried to move away from her attacker. Her face was later covered with a sheet.”

The bodies were found by police who broke down the door to the address on April 15, about 36 hours after the murders. Inside the house, officers discovered a large kitchen knife in one of the bedrooms, which the prosecution said was the weapon used in both the killings. Both teenagers were arrested shortly after officers made the discovery. Mr Joyce told the jury: “Let me make it plain from the very outset, what it is you're trying and what you're not.

“She [the defendant] is not denying that she was just as involved in being a party to the killings. She wanted them to happen.” He added: “She is asserting that her mental condition at the time reduces her responsibility from murder to manslaughter.”

The Crown's QC said: “The prosecution's case is that she will not succeed in proving that her responsiblity was diminished.” He added that the defendant had “shown no hint of remorse” since the killings. Both teenagers were 14 years old at the time.

The trial continues.