Emily Jones: Bolton child's killer cleared of murder

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image copyrightFamily handout
image captionEmily Jones "was always full of joy, love and laughter," her family have said

A woman who slit a seven-year-old's throat has been cleared of murder after the prosecution offered no further evidence and withdrew the charge.

Eltiona Skana, 30, had admitted the manslaughter of Emily Jones on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Skana, who has paranoid schizophrenia, had been on trial at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court after pleading not guilty to murder.

Mr Justice Wall will sentence Skana for manslaughter on Tuesday.

The jury had been directed to formally return a not guilty verdict.

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

Riding scooter

The court heard how Emily was in Queen's Park in Bolton with her father Mark Jones on the afternoon of Mother's Day on 22 March.

She 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.

During the trial, the prosecution alleged that 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.

The court heard about 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.

image captionSeven-year-old Emily Jones was stabbed as she played in Queen's Park, Bolton

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

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.

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

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

When police raided her flat in Bolton, 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 March 11, 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.

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