Sunday 26 February 2017

English schoolgirls 'beat woman to death then took mocking Snapchat selfie'

Undated handout file photo issued by Cleveland Police of Angela Wrightson, taken some years before her death. Cleveland Police/PA Wire
Undated handout file photo issued by Cleveland Police of Angela Wrightson, taken some years before her death. Cleveland Police/PA Wire

Two teenage schoolgirls phoned police asking for a lift home after they battered a woman to death in England before taking a selfie in the back of the police van, a court has heard.

The girls who were aged 13 and 14 at the time, beat Angela Wrightson, 39 to death, as she pleaded for her life in her Hartlepool, County Durham, home.

A jury at Leeds Crown Court heard that the girls used a variety of weapons, including a wooden stick laced with screws, a TV set, printer, coffee table and a shovel to carry out the "sustained and brutal" attack over a prolonged period.

The blood-stained body of alcoholic Ms Wrightson, was found on the sofa at her home on December 8, 2014 by her landlord, having suffered more than 100 injuries.

Shards of glass, together with small pieces of gravel or grit were strewn over and around her private parts and ash from burnt paper, had been put into her ear.

The teenagers, who are both charged with murder and are now aged 14 and 15, cannot be named for legal reasons.

Handout file photo from Cleveland Police of a photograph taken by one of two girls who are accused of murder when they were getting a lift in the back of a police van only hours after the alleged murder of Angela Wrightson. Cleveland Police/PA Wire
Handout file photo from Cleveland Police of a photograph taken by one of two girls who are accused of murder when they were getting a lift in the back of a police van only hours after the alleged murder of Angela Wrightson. Cleveland Police/PA Wire

They appeared in the dock, each flanked by an intermediary to help them understand the court process, to deny the charge.

The jury heard that the two girls had been in local authority care and as they grew into their teens, their "intense" friendship had caused concern.

The court was told that the girls had let themselves into an unlocked Ms Wrightson's home around 7.15pm before launching the attack on the "small in stature and thin" woman and taking pictures of themselves at the crime scene.

For the prosecution Nicholas Campbell QC said: "It became clear that she (Ms Wrightson) had been the victim of a sustained and a brutal attack. There were well over 100 injuries on all parts of her body.

"The evidence at the scene of the crime showed that she had been assaulted on 12 separate locations within and around that room. A number of implements were used."

Whilst at the house the younger of the two was to make a phonecall over Facebook to a friend who was to hear her say: "Go on (name of older girl). Smash her head in. Bray her. F****** kill her," as another laughed in the background.

A selfie posted to Snapchat showed the defendants smiling with Ms Wrightson pictured in the background shortly before her death, with further selfies showing the girls drinking cider from a bottle.

Ms Wrightson, who was known as "Alco Ange", had got a reputation for going to the local shop to buy cigarettes and alcohol for children.

The girls were to leave the house at about 11pm where they met with a friend who had asked them why they were covered in blood.

They told him they had both fallen over and began listening to rap and high energy music.

Mr Campbell said the friend claimed that the older girl, "said something about 'slicing her face' and booting her all over, and that she, (the older), had 'done all the work while (younger) was smoking a tab."

The older of the two was to say they needed to go back to the house, to see if "she" was dead or alive and returned at around 2am.

Mr Campbell adeed: "It's not known whether they went back to continue the violence or whether Angela Wrightson was indeed already dead when they got there.

"Before they left for a final time further indignities had been heaped on Angela Wrightson when she had been in no position to stop them."

He added that having, "decided to bring their activities to an end" at around 4am the younger of the girls texted her carer to come and get her but upon no response phoned the police.

Mr Campbell said: "It seems that both defendants decided to bring their night's activities to an end, and return to their respective homes. The solution they hit upon was to ring the police."

Jurors were told that when their "taxi" did not come quick enough they called again - citing it was "f****** freezing".

Once inside the police van, they were described as laughing and joking and "seemed to be in high spirits".

One of the officers was to hear one say "Snapchat" and "put the flash on".

Realising that they were taking photographs, he told them to stop.

The message, which was posted to social media site Snapchat, read: "Me and (names older girl) in the back, on the bizzie van again", showing one of the girls covering her face with a Parka jacket on her lap concealing the blood.

Both defendants admit they were present at the time the injuries were inflicted.

The older girl accepts that she struck Ms Wrightson but said she did not intend her serious harm.

The younger girl says she played no part in the assault and did not encourage her co-accused in any way.

Mr Campbell said: "The prosecution case is that they were in it together and they are jointly responsible for this fatal attack."

Counsel in the case and the judge presiding over the five-week trial, Mr Justice Henry Globe, did not wear wigs during the hearing.

The younger girl allegedly told a friend that they had "stamped all over her head".

Mr Campbell claimed the defendant told her friend that Ms Wrightson had said "please don't, stop, I'm scared".

After news of the murder spread the next day, the older girl told a support worker it was "shocking".

During a shopping trip, she asked the adult: "How do you think it feels to kill someone? Do you think you feel empty? Do you think you would feel bad?"

She also confided she would probably end up in Low Newton prison, saying it might "sort her out", the Crown said, and she could do courses, "would have her own room and a television and a PlayStation".

She also talked about and played a song called Dance with the Devil about a 13-year-old would-be gang member forced to murder someone as an initiation, the court heard.

Press Association

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