Woman who slit seven-year-old girl’s throat in park cleared of murder

Eltiona Skana, who has paranoid schizophrenia, to be sentenced for manslaughter

Chiara Giordano
Friday 04 December 2020 23:10
Eltiona Skana, 30, has been cleared of the murder of Emily Jones, seven, in a park in Bolton.
Eltiona Skana, 30, has been cleared of the murder of Emily Jones, seven, in a park in Bolton.

A woman who admitted slitting the throat of a seven-year-old girl in a park has been cleared of murder.  

Eltiona Skana, who has paranoid schizophrenia, had admitted the manslaughter of Emily Jones on the grounds of diminished responsibility.  

The 30-year-old was on trial at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester after pleading not guilty to murder, but a jury was directed to return a not guilty verdict.  

After hearing evidence from a consultant forensic psychiatrist treating Skana at high-security Rampton Hospital, the murder charge was withdrawn on Friday as prosecutor Michael Brady QC said there was no realistic prospect of conviction.  

Trial judge Mr Justice Wall will sentence Skana for manslaughter on Tuesday. 

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The court heard how Emily had been taken to Queen's Park in Bolton by her father, Mark Jones, on the afternoon of Mother's Day, Sunday 22 March, and was riding her scooter when she spotted her mother, Sarah Barnes, who was jogging.  

The youngster was calling out to her mother as she scooted past a park bench where Skana was sitting, alone and armed with a craft knife.  

Skana got up, grabbed Emily and slit her throat before running off.  

The defendant, originally from Albania, was later detained under the Mental Health Act.  

The prosecution alleged it was for the jury to decide whether this was a case of murder rather than manslaughter and questioned whether Skana's poor mental health was a "convenient excuse" for her actions.

Prosecutors told the jury of a conversation between Skana and a nurse while in Rampton which pointed to the attack being planned and therefore a calculated killing rather than manslaughter.  

Skana told the nurse: "It was premeditated, I waited in a park and picked my victim, I did what I did then tried to run away."  

But the court was also told the conversation took place at a time when Skana was not taking her anti-psychotic medication as part of a change in treatment at the hospital.  

An entrance to Queen’s Park, in Bolton

Dr Victoria Sullivan, who treated Skana at a medium secure mental health unit in Manchester after her arrest, said the defendant's sister, Klestora, told them she had not been taking her anti-psychotic medication before the attack.  

The court heard how Skana, originally from Albania, came to the UK in 2014 and had been having injections of anti-psychotic drugs each month since 2017.  

Skana also told medics this medication had caused her mental health to deteriorate and she began taking tablets instead of injections.  

But when police raided her flat in Bolton after her arrest they found a stash of untaken anti-psychotic drugs, which amounted to around a month's worth of medication.  

From mid-December of last year until 11 March, the defendant had no face-to-face contact with her mental health workers, the jury heard.  

Earlier, in 2017, Skana had stabbed her own mother and in another incident attacked her sister and had been admitted to psychiatric hospitals three times.  

Dr Syed Afghan, her consultant at Rampton, agreed Skana became psychotically violent when not taking her medication.  

Additional reporting by PA