A STRANGER armed with a craft knife slit a seven-year-old child’s throat as she headed through Queens Park towards her mother on a scooter, a jury has heard.

Emily Jones had spent Mother’s Day morning with her father, Mark Jones who had arranged to meet Emily’s mother, Sarah Barnes, in the park that afternoon while she was out for a run.

But Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court was told how, also in the park that afternoon, March 22, was Eltiona Skana, who has a history of mental health problems.

As Emily spotted her mother in the distance she called out, telling Mr Jones “Daddy, daddy. I want to go to mum .”

But Ms Barnes could not hear as she was some distance away and had headphones in.

As she scooted off to catch up to her mum, Michael Brady QC, prosecuting, told how Skana stood up from the bench she was sitting on as the schoolgirl passed, grabbed Emily and slit her throat with a single motion before throwing her to the ground and running off.

She said nothing to the child but was heard to scream: “She tried to kill me,”

Mr Brady said: "Within moments he [Mr Jones] saw Emily on the ground but didn’t see how she came to be there. He did hear her cry though.

"Mr. Jones saw the person on the bench bending over his daughter and assumed that Emily had fallen off her scooter and was being helped up."

Witnesses later told police that they had initially thought Skana was the child's mum but the the full horror of what had happened soon became apparent.

"When Mr Jones reached Emily, he saw that she was bleeding from her neck and immediately tried to comfort her. He cradled Emily from behind and shouted for help," said Mr Brady

Members of the public tried to help, providing first aid and attempting to stem the blood.

An air ambulance flew Emily to the Salford Royal hospital but the Markland Hill Primary school pupil’s heart had stopped and her injury was not survivable and she was pronounced dead at 3.56pm.

READ MORE: Murder trial first day

The court heard that Tony Canty, who was also in the park with his family, ran after 30-year-old Skana, knocked her to the ground and sat on her until police arrived to arrest her.

Mr Canty told police that Skana, who gave her address as Turnstone Avenue, Bolton, was “rambling”.

“She mentioned the Home Office, her family, that he, Mr Canty had killed ‘the girl’, Emily, and Miss Skana’s family,” said Mr Brady.

She had bought the craft knife used to kill Emily at Pound Empire in Bolton town centre earlier that afternoon before walking to the park.

At the police station officers noticed that Skana had wire tightened around her toes which she told them was to help control her emotions.

The court heard that Albanian Skana had come to the UK in 2014 and had a history of mental illness.

In 2015 she was hospitalised after threatening neighbours with a knife and twice in 2017 after she stabbed her mother in the hand and hit her over the head with a knife, then turned up a friend's house with a knife asking to see her 13-year-old daughter.

The court heard that, after Emily's death, she was sent to Rampton security hospital where a psychiatrist initially assessed Skana as appearing "hostile and suspicious but not overtly psychotic.

Mr Brady said that, on one occasion, she was watching television and saw a child who looked like her victim and began laughing hysterically.

She claimed she had been well until she arrived in the UK and injections had made her psychotic.

Then, on August 16 she was asked if she knew why she was in hospital and is said to had told a staff member: “It’s been three months , what do you want me to do cry all the time?

“It was premediated, I waited in a park and picked my victim, I did what I did then tried to run away."

Skana has admitted manslaughter on the ground of diminished responsibility but denies murder.

However, the prosecution maintains she is responsible for her actions and is using her mental health problems as an excuse.

"Given the speed with which Miss Skana killed Emily the only inference to draw is that she was armed and waiting for her," said Mr Brady.

He added that it is clear from numerous interviews held with Skana that she "is aware of her condition and does not feel responsible for her actions. Something, say the Crown, that she has tried to manipulate and play upon."

A statement from Mr Jones was read out to the jury in which he said: "Emily was simply riding her scooter to see her mum. She was not causing any problems. She was not shouting or making a noise.

"I simply can't explain it."

The trial continues