Mother held after death of daughter in suicide pact

A judge ruled yesterday that a British woman accused of shooting her ailing daughter should remain in prison while awaiting trial, the suspect's lawyer said.

Margaret Allison Mininni, 65, was arrested on Friday at her apartment in Altamura, 25 miles south-west of Bari in southern Italy, shortly after the death of her 24-year-old daughter, Emilia. Mrs Allison is charged with murder.

Mrs Mininni's lawyer, Carmelo Piccolo, said a judge decided that his client should remain in prison at least until an indictment was handed down, probably in September.

Mr Piccolo said the daughter, who suffered from the painful stomach condition toxoplasmosis, had killed herself as part of a suicide pact that the mother did not complete. Mrs Mininni did shoot her daughter, he said, but she did not fire the fatal shots.

"From the first inquests, it seems that the girl was already dead. But the mother did not think so, and fired two more shots," he said. "Preliminary inquests showed that it was a shot to the head that killed the girl, whereas neither of the mother's shots hit the head."

Mrs Mininni had planned to kill herself, but received a phone call from her husband and stopped, Mr Piccolo said.

At the hearing in the coastal city of Bari yesterday, Judge Teresa Liuni said: "I've never seen such a tragic case in my whole career."

The two women, both born in Glasgow, wrote suicide notes after Emilia despaired of finding relief for her untreatable and agonising illness. When Mrs Mininni's husband, Gennaro, was at work in his flour mill, they loaded an unlicensed semi-automatic gun. Then Emilia shot herself in the head.

Reports say she only wounded herself. Her mother told police: "I grabbed the gun and finished her off." She then had planned to turn the gun on herself. But, she said, "I lacked the strength."

Mrs Mininni told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera: "My daughter was ill, very ill. She suffered from unbearable abdominal pains." Two years before, Emilia had tried to end her life by swallowing poison.

"I didn't know what else to do," her mother said. "We chose suicide as a form of euthanasia. But in the end I only had the strength to help her die, and not the courage to follow suit."

The Mininnis, both married before, had met in Scotland and lived in Glasgow for many years. They moved to Altamura eight years ago. But three years later, while studying in Edinburgh, Emilia contracted toxoplasmosis, an infection carried by cats that can also be caught from raw or insufficiently cooked meat.

The symptoms of toxoplasmosis are usually mild in people with healthy immune systems, but in Emilia's case the infection precipitated a rare stomach condition. After exhausting medical resources, the two women decided a suicide pact was the only way out.

Last Friday, alone at home together after writing two letters of explanation and apology, one addressed to Mr Mininni and one to the authorities, they tried to end their common misery.

Neighbours spoke of a quiet, refined, self-enclosed family. "We knew Emilia was sick," said one. "But we never imagined such a thing could happen."

Emilia was buried in the family vault in the town on Saturday after a Mass attended by a few family friends. Armand D'Alonzo, another lawyer for the family, said: "They are destroyed. Nothing led us to think of such an ending for the girl who was trying everything to cure herself."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before