Sunday 17 December 2017

'High risk' teenager who killed Katie Rough (7) to be assessed in specialist hospital

Undated handout file photo issued by North Yorkshire Police of Katie Rough, as a 16-year-old girl has pleaded guilty at Leeds Crown Court to the manslaughter of the seven-year-old. North Yorkshire Police/PA Wire
Undated handout file photo issued by North Yorkshire Police of Katie Rough, as a 16-year-old girl has pleaded guilty at Leeds Crown Court to the manslaughter of the seven-year-old. North Yorkshire Police/PA Wire

Dave Higgens

A teenager who killed a seven-year-old girl in a park has been ordered to be detained for assessment in a specialist hospital for 12 weeks by a judge who told her she poses "a high risk of serious harm to others and to yourself".

The 16-year-old girl broke down and sobbed at Leeds Crown Court where she appeared via video-link on Thursday to be sentenced for the manslaughter of Katie Rough.

Katie was found with severe lacerations to her neck and chest on a playing field in York in January and did not respond to frantic attempts to revive her.

But a judge heard earlier this year that she actually died from being smothered by her attacker, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

On Thursday, Mr Justice Soole told the defendant she would be detained in hospital for 12 weeks before she is returned to court for further sentencing to take place on November 24.

The judge told her: "All sentencing options will be open when, at its conclusion, I make my final decision."

The grandparents of Katie Rough outside York Magistrates Court where a teenager is due to appear charged with the murder of the seven-year-old who was found seriously injured on a playing field. Danny Lawson/PA Wire
The grandparents of Katie Rough outside York Magistrates Court where a teenager is due to appear charged with the murder of the seven-year-old who was found seriously injured on a playing field. Danny Lawson/PA Wire

He said: "It is not in dispute that you currently pose a high risk of serious harm to others and to yourself."

Read More: Tragic Katie Rough was a 'smart, beautiful child' whose best friend was her dog

The girl, wearing glasses and dressed in casual clothes, sat with a lawyer in another room at the court building.

For most of the hearing she had her legs crossed and rested her hands in her lap as she listened to the lawyers discuss her clinical diagnoses.

But, as the judge addressed her, she bent forward and began crying loudly.

The judge told the court he only had a short section of his ruling left to deliver and would carry on speaking.

Earlier this year, the court heard that the teenager was found standing in a cul-de-sac in a York suburb, covered in blood and carrying a blood-stained Stanley knife as she rang 999 to tell police what she had done.

The judge was told she may have been trying to prove Katie was not a robot as she had "irrational beliefs".

The girl denied murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility at the hearing in July.

This plea was accepted by the prosecution.

The judge has heard that the girl began suffering from mental health problems more than a year before the killing.

Prosecutors said she had reported delusional thoughts as well as depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

They said the girl had talked of being convinced that people "weren't human and were robots".

The previous hearing was told the girl became distressed when one doctor asked her later "whether she killed Katie to test whether she was a robot".

The court heard that, although psychosis was being investigated prior to the killing, it had not been diagnosed.

Nicholas Johnson QC, defending, told the last hearing it may be that his client was "driven by the irrational belief (Katie) may not have been human and needed proof of this".

He said the teenager had thoughts that people around her "may not be human and may be controlled by a higher and hostile force".

Read More: Girl (16) admits to killing of Katie Rough (7)

The barrister said his client had posted a picture on social media two days before the killing with a concerning message.

He said: "She was clearly crying out for help and support."

On Thursday, the judge told the defendant that three consultants in adolescent forensic psychiatry had now assessed her in this "most disturbing case".

He said this was despite the girl's "very limited engagement with them".

The judge said two of the three specialists agreed that the teenager suffers from a mental disorder of a kind which enables him to make an interim hospital order, which was enough for him to proceed.

He said the third doctor "does not agree with his colleagues' classification of it as a depressive disorder, nor their opinion that the disorder is such that a hospital order may be appropriate".

The judge told the girl he was making the hospital order "in order to try and obtain the fullest picture of your mental condition and its prospects of treatment before making my final decision as to the appropriate sentence in your case".

The judge stressed that, although the interim order can only be made for 12 weeks, one of the doctors has indicated "that the necessary management and assessment will take a minimum six months".

Press Association

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