Emily Jones' killer not guilty of murder after prosecution offer no evidence
PARANOID schizophrenic Eltonia Skana, who killed seven-year-old Emily Jones in a Bolton park on Mother's Day, has been found not guilty of murder.
On the seventh day of the trial at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court a jury was told that the prosecution offer no further evidence against her on the murder charge.
The move follows the last two days of evidence given by psychiatrists who stated that Skana, aged 30, of Ernest Street, Bolton, has paranoid schizophrenia and no other explanation could be offered for her killing Emily.
The prosecution had been alleging that Skana planned the killing, buying a knife and selecting a victim in the park and was hiding behind her mental condition.
But in a dramatic move today they discontinued the case, with Michael Brady QC stating that there was now no realistic prospect of a conviction and Mr Justice Wall asked the jury of 11 to formally return not guilty verdicts.
Explianing the decision to the jury, Mr Brady said: "The issues in this case are whether the defendant's undoubted mental health history, in particular paranoid schizophrenia, substantially impaired her ability to understand the nature of her conduct, form a rational judgement or exercise self control and if so, whether it provided an explanation for her conduct."
He added that Dr John Crosby, who examined Skana and a defence psychiatrist who was due to give evidence, concluded that Skana's schizophrenia did explain her actions.
He added that Dr Syed Afghan, who is treating 30-year-old Skana at Rampton High Security Hospital and gave evidence yesterday, had also stated that there are no alternative theories to explain her actions when she slashed schoolgirl Emily's throat in Queens Park, Bolton, on March 22.
"He felt unable to comment on the severity of the disorder at the time of the offence due to the lack of of account from Miss Skana herself," said Mr Brady.
The jury had also previously heard from a nurse at Rampton who told how Skana revealed she had planned the killing, waited in the park and chosen her victim, but Dr Afghan stated that she made the remarks at a time when she had been taken off medication and so was likely to be psychotic.
Dr Crosby had also mentioned that the presence of wires found around Skana's toes when she was arrested and claimed to use to control her emotions, was "extremely relevant" and consistant with paranoid delusions.
Mr Brady said there was no evidence available to contradict the psychiatrists' views heard so far and so the trial was brought to a halt.
"It is not a decision that has been taken lightly by the Crown," said Mr Brady.
"Having reviewed all the evidence in this case the Crown has come to the conclusion that there is no longer any realistic prospect of conviction."
Skana, who watched proceedings via a video link from Rampton Hospital, has already pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and will be brought to court and sentenced on Tuesday.
The judge, Mr Justice Wall, paid tribute to Emily's parents, Mark Jones and Sarah Barnes, who have sat watching proceedings in court throughout the trial.
"They have listened to what must be the most distressing and difficult evidence with a huge amount of dignity and restraint," he said.
Mr Jones had taken his daughter to Queens Park, where they had arranged to meet the child's mum.
But shortly after they arrived, as Emily played on her scooter, Skana, who has a history of paranoid schizophrenia and violence, stood up from a bench, grabbed her and slashed her throat with a craft knife.
Mr Jones cradled his daughter as paramedics tried to save her but she had gone into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead after being flown to Salford Royal Hospital by air ambulance.
A member of the public, Tony Canty, chased after Skana, an Albanian asylum seeker, as she tried to run away and kept hold of her until police arrived.