Jail for sisters who killed OAP

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Two teenage sisters were today given lengthy jail sentences for the killing of a frail pensioner who had befriended them and given them sweets.

Two teenage sisters were today given lengthy jail sentences for the killing of a frail pensioner who had befriended them and given them sweets.

Kellie Lyons, 17, was ordered to serve ten years youth detention for the manslaughter of 87-year-old Rose Mackenzie, and eight years concurrently for robbery.

Her sister Jean, 19, was ordered to serve eight years for the same crime and six years concurrently for robbing Mrs Mackenzie.

Old Bailey Judge Michael Coombe said he rejected claims of remorse and said: "This was as mean and despicable an offence as can be imagined."

He said the killing was so seriously that the sisters should be kept on licence for eleven years following their release.

Mrs Mackenzie, who the judge said was a happy and kindly woman, died a week after being attacked at her home on the Woodberry Down Estate, Manor House, north London, in February.

The sisters, masking their faces with balaclava helmets, broke in, attacked her and stole £800 from her hiding place in the bathroom.

Mrs Mackenzie died from injuries caused by kicks she received. The sisters, who lived in the same block of flats and had been befriended by the pensioner, blamed each other for the death.

Kellie cried as she was sentenced, but Jean who received a lesser sentence because she admitted her part in the robbery, held back her tears as she was led from the dock.

Defence counsel for the sisters, who were 17 and 18 when they were charged, said they would have to serve their sentences in prison because their was no young offender institutions for females.

They had been subjected to threats and would have to serve their sentences in isolation.

The judge said: "However much these two girls suffer from their isolation and the hostility of other prisoners whose crimes may be serious indeed, but who regard this particular crime as outstanding in its horror, nothing compares with the suffering inflicted on Rose Mackenzie and her family.

"I am not impressed by submissions of remorse ... I feel their sorrow was more for their own predicament than for Rose or her relations."

A robbery on an elderly person in their home was one of the "most heinous" crimes.

"What makes this crime even graver is that Rose Mackenzie had been a kind lady who befriended these two.

"She had lent the family money from time to time, there were birthday cards and sweets for what she took to be friendly, young children.

"Over and above the horror of the crime perpetuated in this cowardly way against a defenceless old lady, must be added a gross breach of trust."

The judge said he suspected the jury had cleared the sisters of murder because they suspected that one of the girls was guilty of murder - but did not know which one.

Outside court, Mrs Mackenzie's great-nephew Jeff Bennett said: "We are pleased that the judge gave out harsh sentences.

"Rose enjoyed life even though she was 87. These girls showed no genuine remorse. They were crying for themselves.

"I am glad she died without knowing who robbed her. She would have suffered even more if she had known it was the girls she thought were her friends."

Relatives of the sisters waved to them from the public gallery and a woman wept as they were sentenced.

The sisters had been remanded in custody after a jury found them guilty of manslaughter but cleared them of murder.

Ann Curnow QC, prosecuting, told the court that the pair left the widow on the floor with multiple rib fractures as they went off to boast to friends about what they had done.

But once arrested the "inseparable" sisters tried to blame the other for the vicious attack.

Kellie had denied the killing, saying she had loved the pensioner "like a Nan" and had confided her problems to her.

She denied being present and said: "I was really close to her. I enjoyed her company and she enjoyed mine.

"I went to the shops with her on occasions. I miss her. I wish she was not dead."

Jean admitted robbery but denied she had harmed the elderly woman. She said Kellie had kicked Mrs Mackenzie.

When they met up with friends afterwards they were bragging about what they had done, said Miss Curnow.

They had knocked on her door, hit her, turned out the lights, kicked her when she fell and she was screaming.

After she was attacked, she managed to knock at a next door neighbour's home and an ambulance was called.

The crew found her sitting on a chair, her right eye was black, swollen and totally closed. She had a cut on the right ear and a mat of blood was on her head.

After the attack, the sisters asked their friends to get rid of the clothing they had worn, together with a plastic bag containing documents. The friends contacted police after hearing of the death.

The Lyons sisters had lived on the estate for a couple of years with their mother and stepfather.

They left school with average results and were training to become door to door perfume saleswomen. They had not been in trouble with the police before.

Police have not been able to discover what turned the two sisters into killers.

"They were young girls who liked to have a good time," said Detective Chief Inspector Patricia Gallan.