Woman who killed girl, 7, by slashing her throat on Mother's Day may never be freed

Woman who killed girl, 7, by slashing her throat on Mother's Day may never be freed

Eltiona Skana showed no emotion as a judge told her she may never be freed from hospital after her paranoid schizophrenia was judged to be 'the driver' behind the horror which saw her cut little Emily Jones' throat in the park.

A woman who killed a seven-year-old girl by slitting her throat in a park on Mother's Day has been handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 8 years.

Emily's dad Mark Jones supplied these pictures of his beloved daughter as her killer was sentenced.

Eltiona Skana, 30, may never be freed as a judge handed her a hybrid sentence after hearing from a psychiatrist that her paranoid schizophrenia was "the driver for this act."

Emily Jones tragically died after the horrific attack in Queen's Park, Bolton, on March 22 this year.

Skana was previously found not guilty of murder after a trial but earlier had admitted to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Today at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court Judge Mr Justice Wall handed her a hybrid sentence, meaning she will only be sent to prison if her treatment allows it and if she is never fit to be released to prison she will remain in hospital indefinitely.

Eltonia Skana's custody picture after being arrested for killing Emily Jones

He told her: “What this means is that you will be detained in hospital until no longer necessary. If or when it’s no longer necessary you will be released to prison.”

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Helen Whitworth told Judge Mr Justice Wall that Skana "needs to be monitored full time, probably for the rest of her life."

She said Skana may have a "lack of insight" into her own condition which could account for her "clear history" of losing contact with mental health services and not taking medication.

When asked if she thought the schizophrenia was the cause of Skana’s actions on March 22 she says it was likely.

'Emily was a loveable child, full of innocence and wonder'

She said: "My view is that this illness was the driver for this act and in my opinion it follows that only effective control of her mental illness will be the way to achieve full control and management of risk."

If these symptoms are not managed the defendant represents a "clear danger to the public", the doctor added, with a a hospital being the most appropriate place for Skana to be treated and that in prison officers might not spot the "subtle signs of relapse" that come with her mental condition.

Dr Whitworth was asked about the possibility of a hybrid order including both a hospital and prison sentence, under questioning from prosecution barrister Michael Brady.

She said the average length of stay for patients at Rampton Hospital - where Eltiona Skana is currently being treated - is around seven years, but people with severe conditions like the defendant are likely to be under treatment for much longer.

She added: "In my opinion the safest way to manage Miss Skana’s case would be for her to be under the care of a mental health team."

Skana showed no reaction as she was sentenced.

The 30-year-old could be seen in the dock in Manchester during the sentencing hearing.

Throughout the trial she had appeared via a video link but she appeared in person in court for sentence.

Emily's father Mark Jones was also in court to see the sentence passed.

Dad Mark Jones leaves the court in Manchester - he and his wife have told how they cannot move on from their daughter's death (Image: Manchester Evening News)

Chilling video shared by Greater Manchester Police upon sentencing shows the arrest of Skana moments after the attack.

In it a woman can be heard saying "I think she's killed someone" as police arrest Skana.

Simon Csoka QC, for the defence, told Mr Justice Wall that it is his case Skana would be in hospital under care for longer than she would be in prison.

'Emily was the beat in our hearts, the spring in our step and the reason we got up every morning' (Image: Mark Jones)

He says: "On the specific facts of this case, the public interest aligned with a Section 37/51 order [hospital order].

“Under such a regime, the amount of time she is detained is likely to be at least as long if not longer than a hybrid order or even a life sentence.”

Emily's devastated dad told the court the family's future had been "taken away" after he described running for his daughter and begging her 'don't leave me'.

In court today, a heartbreaking victim impact statement was read from Emily’s dad, Mark Jones, who described his daughter as a "kind child" who was "bright and funny".

A statement was read out on behalf of Emily's parents today (Image: Manchester Evening News)

"Emily was a vulnerable child full of innocence and wonder, she was just starting off on her path of life and her future was cut short," he said.

"Our future has also been taken away, how can we enjoy life when the best part of it has been taken away?"

Over the course of a seven-day hearing at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court, a jury was told Emily was killed by Skana as she was riding her scooter through the park.

The child had been riding to meet her mother when the defendant sprang from a bench, grabbed her and then sliced her across the neck with a craft knife she had bought that morning.

Greater Manchester Police released this new picture of Emily Jones.

Mr Justice Wall explained in court today that he has reservations about Skana’s intentions before she attacked Emily.

He said it is "without question" that she was likely suffering from a psychotic episode when the incident happened, based on the evidence from psychiatric experts heard in court.

But he also said he is concerned that Skana appears to have lied to a mental health nurse on March 11 when she said she had been taking her medication.

Mark Jones told of his terror as he ran to his daughter (Image: Manchester Evening News)

Police found a month’s worth of unused pills in her home after the incident.

Dr Whitworth had previously been asked to make a report for the sentencing.

She said it was "extremely common" for people suffering from paranoid schizophrenia to think they do not need their medication.

Emily's father previously described the moment he knew he was losing his little girl.

'Emily brought out something special in everyone who was lucky enough to be in her life' (Image: Mark Jones)

He said: “I ran for Emily. I was absolutely terrified. I just knew it was so bad. You don’t survive these things.

“I just thought, 'Oh my God, I’m going to lose her, I’m going to lose her.' I was shouting, 'Just stay with me Emily, stay with me. Don’t leave me.'”

On Friday, prosecution barrister Mr Brady told the jury the Crown Prosecution Service would no longer pursue a murder charge and asked them to find Skana not guilty of that offence.

Speaking to the jury, he said the prosecution had decided that was 'no longer any realistic prospect of conviction' for murder.

Floral tributes to the seven-year-old girl (Image: MEN Media)

"This is not a decision that has been taken lightly by the Crown," he said.

"It's a decision taken with care and mindful of the sensitivity of this case."

He explained that the decision to drop the charge had come following evidence from Dr Saifullah Syed Afghan - a consultant forensic psychiatrist who is treating Skana at Rampton Hospital.

He told the court he had no 'alternative' explanation for her actions, aside from previous explanations of psychosis brought on by her diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia.

The jury then found Skana not guilty of murder.
'We cannot move on, because at this time, we cannot see a future'

Emily's dad described her as 'an amazing soul' (Image: Family handout)

Emily's parents Sarah and Mark wrote a moving impact statement in tribute to their daughter. saying: "How can you put into words how you feel about the senseless death of your only child? It is just too difficult to comprehend.

"Emily was the beat in our hearts, the spring in our step and the reason we got up every morning.

"Emily was our beautiful, spirited little girl, a bundle of energy with an infectious personality.

"She was bright and funny, a kind child with not a mean bone in her body.

"Emily loved life and had not a care in the world.

Tributes left after the tragic death (Image: MEN Media)

"One smile from Emily and she had her daddy wrapped around her little finger.

"Emily was a loveable child, full of innocence and wonder.

"She was just starting out on her path of life and her future has cruelly been cut so short.

"Our future has also been taken away, how can you enjoy life when the biggest part of it isn't there anymore?

"We will never see Emily grow and become the wonderful young lady we knew she would become, we will never see her hold her own child in her arms, as we held her.

"Emily brought out something special in everyone who was lucky enough to be in her life.

Emily Jones was killed earlier this year.

"The loss of Emily has had a profound and significant impact, not just on her family, but the whole community.

"Emily was someone’s school friend, a play mate and of course a grand daughter and a niece, and she meant something very special and unique to each and every one of them.

"The last 9 months have been spent in limbo.

"We cannot move on, because at this time, we cannot see a future. We can only focus on today, it is literally one day at a time."
'A dangerous offender'

Police at the scene of the killing in Queen’s Park, Bolton.

A Greater Manchester Police spokesperson said today: "Skana has been sentenced under the Mental Health Act 2003 and has been deemed a dangerous offender so will need to be medically assessed before being considered for release.

"On Sunday 22 March 2020, 7-year-old Emily Jones was riding her scooter through Queen's Park with her father, Mark when she began scooting towards her mother, Sarah who was jogging through the park.

"On her journey, Emily was scooting past a bench that Skana was sitting on and completely unprovoked; Skana got up and grabbed Emily before attacking her with a knife and throwing her to the ground.

"Emily's father immediately ran to her aid whilst Skana fled on foot towards the exit of the park, followed by a member of the public who bravely managed to detain her until police arrived at the scene.

"Emily was rushed to hospital but had tragically sustained an un-survivable neck injury and sadly passed away despite the best efforts of medical professionals and her family.

"Skana has remained in secure facilities ever since this incident."

Senior Investigating Officer Duncan Thorpe, of GMP's Major Incident Team, said: "This was an absolutely devastating incident that has left Emily's parents and family completely heartbroken and I know it sent shockwaves across the country as everyone mourned the loss of this innocent little girl.

"Emily was taken from her family and friends in the worst possible way. No sentence can ever undo what happened on that awful day in March, but Emily's spirit will live on in her family and I know that she will never be forgotten."
Woman who killed girl, 7, by slashing her throat on Mother's Day may never be freed
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