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Summary

  1. Schoolgirls who murdered Angela Wrightson sentenced
  2. Both teenagers must serve a minimum of 15 years
  3. Pair convicted of torturing and murdering vulnerable woman
  4. Mother says she 'can't blink away image' of dead body

Live Reporting

By Rebecca Turner

All times stated are UK

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Our live coverage across the day

Rebecca Turner

BBC North East

Our live updates have finished for the day. 

Today, two young girls were sentenced to a minimum of 15 years for the brutal murder of a vulnerable woman in her Hartlepool home.

The girls, then aged 13 and 14, inflicted more than 100 injuries on 39-year-old Angela Wrightson in December 2014.

Angela Wrightson
SWNS

We will be back with more updates from across the North East tomorrow.   

From the courtroom: Murderer let out 'despairing wail'

Bethan Bell

BBC News Online

Angela Wrightson's mother Maureen showed emotion in the public gallery for the first time when the judge enumerated the injuries sustained by Ms Wrightson. As he read out the details, Mrs Wrightson closed her eyes and put her hand over her face.

Both girls were blank-faced as they were told they'd serve a minimum of 15 years for the murder of Angela Wrightson, although once they'd been led away and the door shut behind them, one of them let out a despairing wail.  

From the courtroom: Younger girl's mother 'broke down in tears'

Bethan Bell

BBC News Online

The younger girl's mother broke down in tears as the judge listed the teenager's crimes, while her father stared through the reflective glass separating the public seating area from the lawyers' benches and the dock.

Mr Justice Globe
BBC

Later, in the canteen, the younger girl's family waited by the large windows overlooking the front of the building. Not only were they waiting for the cameras, tape recorders and notebooks to be put away, but it's also a place where you can see the large security vans, which transport defendants, leave the cells.

Nobody was watching or waiting for the older girl.

Schoolgirl killer had taken 'tramadol and codeine'

The two teenagers found guilty of murdering Angela Wrightson had been drinking and the older girl had been taking prescription drugs before they went to her Hartlepool home in December, 2014.

Today the court heard up to six litres of cider from two bottles may have been drunk by the girls and Ms Wrightson.

The judge said the older girl said she had either taken tramadol and codeine or what was known by her as “Blues”.

Mr Justice Globe said: "You described yourselves as tipsy, but I am sure you were more than just tipsy. 

"Whatever you took, I am satisfied you took it during the day and it didn’t have a significant effect upon you later on."

Removing teenage killers' anonymity 'would be dangerous'

The two girls convicted of killing Angela Wrightson would have been named by the media if they were "stable and strong-minded", the judge said.

A court order has prevented the naming of the two girls, who are now both 15, since they first appeared before magistrates in 2014.

Various media organisations asked for this order to be lifted once they were sentenced to at least 15 years, but the judge said their welfare was at risk after hearing how one of them tried to kill herself a number of times during her trial.  

Mr Justice Globe told the court: "Each defendant poses a risk of self-harm. In one case, it is a real and present danger.

"Removing anonymity is likely to exacerbate what is already a dangerous situation.

"In circumstances where I might be satisfied that both of you were stable, strong-minded defendants convicted of serious crime, the balance might arguably have been in favour of the lifting of anonymity." 

What awaits the girls sentenced for murdering Angela Wrightson?

The two girls sentenced to 15 years for murdering Angela Wrightson will be held in secure children’s homes and secure training centres.

They will get a plan to rehabilitate them, which will include education, but may also involve services including mental health or substance abuse treatment.

And both girls will be allocated a youth offending team worker who will help ensure they are getting the proper care.

The number of young people convicted of murder is low. In January 2016 there were 19 young people (under 18) in secure sites sentenced to a section 90 sentence type.  

This is the sentence type typically given for those convicted of murder.

Angela Wrightson: A murder that made news around the world

'Children are not born murderers' says children's commissioner

“I will not be alone in being shocked by this" but "it remains very rare for children to commit such awful crimes" says Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield of the teenage murderers sentenced today.

“It is also true that children are not born murderers. Evidence in court tells us there were warning signs and that there would have been many opportunities for individuals, including their parents and authorities responsible for their care, to intervene to turn their lives around.

"It is a stark warning of the consequences of leaving children with troubled beginnings without the support they need.”

Angela Wrightson: What the papers say

Here's a round-up of how the media in the North East of England are reporting the sentencing:

How other child killers were dealt with by the courts

After two girls were jailed for life with a minimum of 15 years for killing Angela Wrightson in Hartlepool, it has brought other child killers into focus:

  • Mary Bell, 11, strangled two boys aged four and three in 1968, and was sentenced to life in detention after she was found guilty of manslaughter. She was released on licence in 1980 and given a new identity
  • Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were convicted of killing two-year-old James Bulger in Bootle, Merseyside, in 1993, when they were just 10 years old
  • Three teenagers who murdered a homeless man in Liverpool for a dare were given custodial sentences in April 2013. Brothers Connor and Brandon Doran, aged 17 and 14, and Simon Evans, 14, were told they would be detained until the home secretary approved their release
  • Sixteen-year-old Will Cornick was given a life sentence in 2014 after he admitted murdering Leeds teacher Ann Maguire. The judge said he had shown a "chilling lack of remorse" and ordered him to serve at least 20 years, saying he might never be released
  • Fifteen-year-old Daniel Bartlam, who murdered his mother with a hammer and set her body on fire, was detained for a minimum of 16 years in 2012. Judge Julian Flaux described the killing as "grotesque" and "senseless" and said it seemed like the teenager wanted to "get away with the perfect murder"
  • Five teenagers who murdered a man in a Liverpool launderette when some of them were 13 years old were sentenced in 2014

Angela Wrightson was 'harmless' and would 'hand out lollies to kids'

Angela Wrightson's neighbour says she drank a lot but was harmless and was "almost like the street's burglar alarm".

Speaking about the 39-year-old, who was found murdered in her Hartlepool home, her neighbour Michael Holbeach says: "She used to sit in the doorstep most of the time.

"If I had a good pay week - I drive a truck part-time - I would go down and buy her a bottle of cider and 20 fags.

"She was almost like the street's burglar alarm in a way. If one of the slightly more troubled people was giving one of the kids a bit of a hard time she'd shoo them away, even boozed you know she was fairly responsible.

"She would hand out lollies to some of the kids when she got her pension or dole or whatever it was and she was harmless."

The two independent reviews into Angela Wrightson's murder

Two independent reviews will be taking place following the death of a vulnerable Hartlepool woman - one regarding the two teenagers found guilty of her murder, and one regarding Angela Wrightson herself. 

Independent serious case reviews are being undertaken by the Hartlepool Safeguarding Children Board into the two teenagers

And an independent safeguarding adult review is being undertaken by the Teeswide Safeguarding Adults Board regarding Ms Wrightson.

The final moments of murdered woman Angela Wrightson

Cleveland Police released this CCTV footage of Angela Wrightson and the two teenagers convicted of murdering her from the night of her death.  

'Jurors are warned not to search the internet'

Clive Coleman

BBC legal correspondent

At the heart of the dispute over the reporting of this deeply distressing case lies the core principle that the jury room and the minds of each individual juror can and should be protected from the polluting effects of any prejudicial material published by anyone online or elsewhere.  

It remains the view of the judiciary and the attorney general that exposure to such material risks prejudicing a fair trial for the defendants.  

The great fear is that it can influence the jury but cannot be tested in court.  

Jurors are warned not to search the internet about the case, and have been imprisoned for contempt if they do so.   

However in the age of smartphones and online file sharing, jurors can instantly access and be directed towards prejudicial material on the high-profile trial they are in the process of hearing.  

The idea of sealing their minds from such material is becoming increasingly difficult to reconcile with the principle of open justice. 

Troubled upbringing of teenager who murdered Wrightson

Bethan Bell

BBC News Online

The older girl convicted of murdering Angela Wrightson had a troubled and disorganised upbringing, living in turn with her mother, father, and at a number of foster homes.

She was too unsettled to cope in mainstream school and was sent to a pupil referral unit.

The court heard she had a history of self-harming, using anything with a sharp edge to slash not just her arms and legs but even her face. She was also known to have smashed her own head into walls.

She both witnessed and experienced domestic violence, being taken to A&E 24 times for different injuries. She had her fingers broken by her mother, who suffered from severe psychiatric illness and had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

The day she murdered Angela Wrightson, she visited her mother who told her to kill herself.

Photos from Wrightson crime scene deemed 'too distressing'

Bethan Bell

BBC News Online

Some of the crime scene photographs were deemed 'too distressing' for the jury to see during the trial of two schoolgirls who murdered Angela Wrightson.

Bloodied handprints were smeared on the walls, and blood was also found on the ceiling.

A photo was released of this TV the girls used to attack her with:

Bloodied TV from crime scene
Cleveland Police

Girls fractured three fingers as Angela tried to protect herself

More details of the horrific injuries sustained by Angela Wrightson were read out in court.

Mr Justice Globe said she suffered 70 separate slash injuries and 54 separate blunt force injuries - 71 were to her head and face.

He said there were 22 deflection injuries to the back of her hands, wrists and arms as she tried to fend off the two girls.

"As she did so, you fractured three of her fingers," he added.

"Those defensive injuries support what you (the younger girl) said to one of your friends the following day about Angie pleading with you to stop hitting her."

Angela Wrightson: A timeline of events

Rebecca Turner

BBC North East

Angela Wrightson was murdered in her home in December 2014.

Today, her two teenage killers were sentenced to life.

But why is this happening more than two years after the attack?

Well, the girls were aged just 13 and 14 at the time, and their age and vulnerability has lead to a number of complications in the case.

Here's a timeline of events:

  • In the early hours of Tuesday 9 December 2014, two teenage girls call 999 for a lift home.
  • Later that morning, Angela Wrightson's body is found in her blood-splattered Hartlepool home nearby.
  • The same day, the two girls are arrested.
  • The girls appear in court on 11 December
  • Their trial starts in July 2015 but on the third day, Mr Justice Globe is alerted to what he called "an avalanche of prejudicial comment" on social media.
  • Late on 3 July 2015, he effectively orders the media to remove every comment about the trial from any news article and social media post.
  • On 7 July 2015, the jury is discharged and proceedings are halted at Teesside Crown Court.  
  • The BBC appeals against this decision, and embarks on what turns out to be seven-month battle for the right to report on the case.
  • On 16 February 2016, the trial begins again with a new jury.

And today, on the 7 April 2016, the two girls are convicted of Angela Wrightson's murder and sentenced to 15 years each.

Girl 'hallucinates and hears phantom laughter since murder'

Details of the impact the murder of Angela Wrightson had on the two schoolgirl killers can be revealed today.

Since the night of the attack on Ms Wrightson, the older girl has hallucinated, waking up sweating and screaming, seeing blood on the walls.

She hears the phantom laughter of young girls, and thinks men are shouting at her through air vents in the ceiling, as well as through the shower head. 

Wrightson killers: A friendship that ended in murder

Bethan Bell

BBC News Online

For two young teenagers the night of 8 December 2014 began like many others.

But by the next morning the two girls would be murderers, having taken their time to batter a vulnerable woman to death with a variety of weapons. The attack lasted for seven hours.

Then aged 13 and 14, the pair spent the early evening roaming the streets of Hartlepool drinking strong cider, smoking pilfered cigarettes, and taking selfies.

CCTV
Cleveland Police

Despite the drinking and drug-taking - the older had also taken illicit prescription medicine - they were not atypical teenagers.

Click here to read how two teenage friends became real 'partners in crime'.

Mother's victim statement tells of 'disgust' at girls

A victim impact statement from Angela Wrightson's mother, Maureen, was summarised by the judge.

Mr Justice Globe told the girls: "She describes the horror of seeing Angie's battered body in the mortuary. 

"She does not think she will ever be able to blink those images away. Having seen photographs of what Angie looked like at that time, I readily understand why she is of that view. 

Angela Wrightson
Facebook

"She cannot understand how you could have been as violent as you were. She is not alone in that view. 

"She had been disgusted by the laughing and giggling and sharing of photographs during the time of and immediately after the attack."

Teenage murderers to remain anonymous over suicide fears

The judge refused to lift an order banning the identification of the two girls after hearing details of how the older one had repeatedly tried to kill herself. 

Mr Justice Globe said some of these attempts happened on court premises during the trial. 

In one, the judge told the girl that a court official "I am satisfied, saved your life". 

He said the case for naming the younger girl was stronger but he accepted she was also vulnerable. 

The judge told the older girl: "I am concerned and disturbed by what I regard as a heightened real risk that identification by a press blitz will elevate the risk to your life to such an extent that I am satisfied that there is a real and immediate risk to your life if you were to be identified as one of the two girls who murdered Angela Wrightson."

Girls handed 15-year sentences due to 'suffering' caused

The two girls were sentenced to 15 years due to the suffering they inflicted on Angela Wrightson, the judge said.

Mr Justice Globe told them: "This was a sustained attack over a long period of time carried out with weapons in many different ways. 

"She [Angela] undoubtedly suffered considerably, both mentally and physically, before she ultimately lost consciousness and died."

Drawing of girl stabbing girl shown to court

The jury in the trial of the two girls who murdered Angela Wrightson was given a chilling insight into their behaviour.

The court was shown a picture drawn by the older defendant two weeks before Ms Wrightson was killed which depicts a female figure stabbing another person.

Drawing of stabbing
Cleveland Police

The girl said she drew it when she was "really really angry" and that she had been advised by her carers to use drawing as a way to manage her feelings.

The court heard it had been "a successful strategy" on previous occasions.

But today the pair of them were sentenced to a minimum of 15 years.

How long will the girl's be detained?

Clive Coleman

BBC legal correspondent

It is a rather antiquated term that the girls have been sentenced to 15 years at Her Majesty's Pleasure.

Children are sentenced in a very different way to adults. 

For these two girls, the judge has taken the starting point of 12 years and he has increased that to 15 years.

They cannot be released before those 15 years are up, unless they appeal to the Court of Appeal.

So will they be released after 15 years?

Not necessarily if they still pose a risk to the public.

Girls used police as taxi after fatal attack

Fiona Trott

BBC News

"One life has been lost and several others have been ruined."

This was the message from one of the girl's defence barristers, as he told the court the girls "thought as children" when they battered Angela Wrightson to death.

In a five-hour attack, they used several items to kill her. Instead of calling an ambulance, they took a selfie with her.

Selfie
Cleveland Police

By the time they finished, it was 04:00 and they dialled 999 and asked for police to take them back to their care homes.   

Girls showed no emotion as sentenced to 15 years

The two girls jailed for life for murdering Angela Wrightson showed no reaction as they were sentenced to 15 years each at Leeds Crown Court. 

Sobs could be heard from the public gallery as the sentence was read out by Mr Justice Globe.

Now both 15, the girls were 13 and 14 when they attacked Ms Wrightson in the lounge of her home in Hartlepool, County Durham.

They used weapons including a shovel, a TV, a coffee table and a stick studded with screws.

BreakingGirls who murdered Angela Wrightson sentenced to 15 years

Two girls found guilty of murdering Angela Wrightson in her Hartlepool home have been sentenced to life with a minimum of 15 years.

The girls, then aged 13 and 14, inflicted over 100 injuries on Ms Wrightson in an attack in December 2014 that lasted more than five hours.

Angela Wrightson
Cleveland Police

They used a variety of weapons, including a wooden stick laced with screws, a television set, a shovel, ornaments, a picture frame and a kettle.  

BreakingMurder girls to remain anonymous

The judge has ruled that the two girls convicted of murdering Angela Wrightson will not be identified, despite applications by some media for their anonymity to be lifted.

The application was opposed by police and Hartlepool council.

Wrightson murder girls 'to be sentenced to at least 12 years'

Rebecca Turner

BBC North East

The two teenage girls convicted of murdering Angela Wrightson could  be detained for at least 12 years, according to guidelines.

The CPS website says: "For an offender who is a youth when they committed the offence the appropriate starting point is 12 years detention at Her Majesty's pleasure."  

Judge talks of schoolgirls' 'cowardly attack'

Fiona Trott

BBC News

The two schoolgirls committed a "cowardly" attack on Angela Wrightson, the judge says.  

"Angela's alcoholic state may have numbed some pain but it won't have taken it away completely," Mr Justice Globe said.

He added the attack included "gratuitous degradation" of the 39-year-old.

Schoolgirl murderers looking at floor as judge sentences them

Fiona Trott

BBC News

The two girls who murdered Angela Wrightson are looking at the floor as the judge sentences them. 

Chewing on their fingers as they listen to Mr Justice Globe, they are told they use 14 different items used to strike heavy blows on the vulnerable alcoholic.

Girls 'took advantage of vulnerable woman to murder her'

The two girls who murdered Angela Wrightson took advantage of her hospitality to commit their murderous attack, the judge has said.

Mr Justice Globe said Ms Wrightson was an "alcoholic who didn't eat properly", adding: "Neighbours said she was kind, house proud and lonely. She'd invite anyone in for company - there lay her downfall.

"Children such as you would take advantage of her. Nobody expected her to come to any harm still less in the manner she was attacked by you."

Angela Wrightson's mother 'needs medical support to cope'

Fiona Trott

BBC News

Angela Wrightson's mother needs "medical support to cope" after the brutal murder of her daughter, the court is told.

The two girls convicted of murdering Ms Wrightson, who are now just 15 years old, are listening very carefully.

They have intermediaries there to explain things to them. 

Sobbing can also be heard from the public gallery.  

Mother 'can't blink away image of dead body'

Fiona Trott

BBC News

Angela Wrightson's mother is in court.

The judge is reading a statement from her which says: "She can't blink away the image of her daughter's battered body in the mortuary."

Angela Wrightson murder trial judge starts sentencing

The judge has started his sentencing remarks.

Mr Justice Globe will also decide whether to lift the girls' anonymity.

Artist's impression shows Wrightson murder trial judge

Rebecca Turner

BBC North East

Below is an artist's impression of Mr Justice Globe who is about to sentence the two teenage girls convicted of murdering Angela Wrightson:

Mr Justice Globe
BBC

Due to the age and vulnerability of the girls, he's not wearing a wig.

Family paid tribute to Angela after guilty verdicts

Angela Wrightson's family paid tribute to her after the two girls were convicted of her murder.

They said in a statement: "It's true that Angela (or Angie as she was known to us all) led a troubled and at times chaotic lifestyle. 

"And as a family we were not as close as we ought to have been. The chance to put that right has been taken away from us."

It went on to say: "The two girls responsible will one day be women themselves, free to live their lives and perhaps have children of their own. A right which was taken from Angie."

CCTV shows girls going back to murder house

This CCTV image shows two schoolgirl murderers walking back to Angela Wrightson's house after attacking her in December 2014.

They had left the house in Hartlepool for "time out" at about 23:00, during which time they went to see a friend, who asked them why they were covered in blood. 

CCTV image
Cleveland Police

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

The pair, who were convicted on Tuesday, are seen above at 02:00 going back to the Stephen Street property. They stayed for a further two hours before calling the police to take them home.

Murder girls 'tried to blame each other'

The two girls convicted of murdering Angela Wrightson in Hartlepool had tried to shift blame on to each other during their trial.

The older girl accepted she struck the 39-year-old but said she did not intend her serious harm and accused her accomplice, telling the jury her younger friend told her to carry out the attack.

Shovel used in attack
Cleveland Police

But the younger of the two said she played no part in the assault and did not encourage her friend in any way.

She told police her friend became angry and launched the attack after Miss Wrightson made a comment about her family.