Emily Jones, 7, was killed by a stranger on Mother's Day as she scooted towards her mum, court hears

Jessica Carpani
·4-min read
Emily Jones, age 7
Emily Jones, age 7

A seven-year-old girl was killed on Mother's Day as she scooted towards her mum, who was jogging in the park, a court has heard.

Emily Jones had gone to Queen’s Park in Bolton with her father Mark Jones on Mother’s Day earlier this year when she had spotted her mum, Sarah Barnes, jogging ahead of them, a jury at Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester was told.

Seven-year-old Emily had been on her scooter at the time and called out to her mother, who was unable to hear her, when a stranger got up from a bench and slit her throat with a craft knife.

Eltiona Skana, 30, originally from Albania, is appearing at the hearing by video link from Rampton Hospital in Nottinghamshire.

She has pleaded guilty to manslaughter on March 22, on the grounds of diminished responsibility, a partial defence to murder.

Michael Brady QC, opening the case for the prosecution, said at around 2.15pm that day Emily's father took her to the park on her scooter.

Emily's parents were no longer together but remained on good terms and as was usual, their daughter spent Sundays with her father and they agreed to meet up later at the park.

Mr Brady said that when Emily saw her mother running in the park, she said, "Daddy, daddy, I want to go to mum."

Her father consented and she scooted off, then as his daughter drew level with the park bench he saw Skana, stand up and move towards Emily.

"Also in the park was Eltiona Skana.

"She was alone on a bench armed with a craft knife, which she had taken from a pack of three that she had bought earlier that day from a shop in Bolton town centre.

"Emily, oblivious of the defendant, had seen her mother running in the distance and was scooting towards her, some yards ahead of her father.

"As she scooted along, she was heard to call out to her mother who was unable to hear her because of the distance between them and the fact that Ms Barnes had her headphones on.

"Emily's path towards her mum took her past the defendant who, as Emily scooted by, grabbed her and in one movement slit her throat with the craft knife and then threw her to the ground." 

Mr Brady said there had been “no interaction between Emily and the defendant” and that the wound was “unsurvivable”.

Emily's father heard her cry out and thought she had fallen off her scooter.

He then heard a woman shout, "She's been stabbed" and saw Skana run away.

Mr Brady told the jury: "He cradled Emily from behind and shouted for help.”

Meanwhile, Tony Canty and his wife Lynsey, out for a walk in the park with their daughter, had seen Skana manhandling Emily.

Mr Canty handed over the baby to his wife and ran after the defendant.

He brought her to the ground and straddled her until police arrived.

Emily's parents then waited with her while the paramedics tried to save her life.

She was rushed by air ambulance to Salford Royal Hospital but Emily had gone into cardiac arrest and with her mother at her bedside she was pronounced dead at 3.56pm.

In a statement read to the jury, Emily's father said: "I do not know why this happened. Emily was simply riding her scooter to her mum. I simply can't explain it."

After her arrest, Skana was assessed, telling the on-call psychiatrist, "I know I'm a paranoid schizophrenic" and she was detained under the Mental Health Act.

Skana was moved to the high-security hospital at Rampton where she told a nurse: “It was premeditated, I waited in a park and picked my victim, I did what I did, then tried to run away.”

She also told medics she was "perfectly normal" before coming to the UK and claiming asylum in 2014.

Mr Brady said although it is accepted the defendant does have, and has had, mental health difficulties for a number of years, it is for the jury to decide whether this is a case of murder rather than manslaughter.

The trial was adjourned until Friday morning.