Christina Edkins killing: Phillip Simelane detained
- 2 October 2013
- From the section Birmingham & Black Country
A man who killed 16-year-old Christina Edkins on a rush-hour bus in Birmingham has been detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act.
Phillip Simelane, from Walsall, stabbed the teenager in a random attack as she made her way to school in March.
He had been released from prison, unsupervised, three months before the attack - despite warning signs over the state of his mental health.
The 23-year-old admitted manslaughter in a hearing at Birmingham Crown Court.
Mrs Justice Thirlwell, sentencing Simelane, said it was "likely to be a life-long order".
The judge added: "It is made for the nature of the offence and necessary to protect the public from serious harm."
She also expressed concern that Simelane had not been receiving treatment at the time of the killing.
Christina had been travelling to Leasowes High School in Halesowen on the number 9 bus, two weeks after her 16th birthday, when she was attacked.
Simelane, who was sitting behind her on the upper deck, stabbed her in the chest as he walked past to get off.
He was arrested a few hours after the attack following an extensive manhunt.
Simelane had previously been in prison for threatening his own mother with a knife. West Midlands Police said they had been called to his mother's address in Walsall about 20 times.
Seven days after completing a 101-day prison term for the threats, he was convicted for interfering with a vehicle and possessing cocaine. He was released from jail on 13 December.
But, according to the police, because the crimes were deemed minor offences there was no policy to monitor Simelane after he left jail.
During his time in prison, concerns were raised about his mental health and notes were put on his police file for suicide and self-harming risk, as well as for violence and weapons use.
Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust provided psychiatric assessments for Simelane during his prison term.
It said it was conducting an external review, commissioned by Birmingham Cross City Clinical Commissioning Group, on behalf of all agencies involved in treating him.
In a statement, the trust promised a "thorough investigation", adding "we will seek to learn from and fully implement these findings across the healthcare providers involved".
Supt Richard Baker, who led the initial police investigation, said police and prison services were also carrying out reviews to determine what, if anything, could have been done to prevent Christina's death.
He said: "It was immediately apparent that Simelane suffered from mental health issues, and to this day we have not been able to interview him about what happened that day."
In court, Simelane entered his plea in front of more than 30 of Christina's friends and family, many wearing purple ribbons - Christina's favourite colour.
Speaking afterwards, Christina's great uncle Chris Melia said: "We have no sense of vengeance or revenge. We just want him out of the way and [to] remember Christina.
"The authorities didn't help him, [they] just let him out of the prison door and let him go, just abandoned him.
"If there had been some help and authority he wouldn't have been on the bus."
Prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith said CCTV captured Simelane carrying a white plastic bag containing what prosecutors said was a knife, 10in to 12in in length.
He said within seconds of Christina boarding the bus "the defendant got up and moved forwards three seats and pulled out the knife, which he then hid".
Simelane then walked towards where Christina was sitting, "leant closer to her", stabbed her and started to walk off, the court heard.
"Such was the nature of the attack, nobody else on the upper deck realised what had happened until Christina reacted," Mr Grieves-Smith said.
Friends lay flowers
Other passengers on the bus tried to treat and comfort Christina before paramedics arrived within minutes.
She was stabbed at about 07:30 and was confirmed dead about 30 minutes later.
Following her death, friends gathered by Hagley Road in Birmingham to lay flowers in Christina's memory, while many more were left outside her school's gates.
A memorial garden dedicated to Christina is due to be opened at her former school on Thursday.
Speaking on behalf of the family, the great uncle said Christina was a "bright, beautiful girl" who was looking forward to her school prom and loved sports.
He added: "Her headmaster said, 'if a school could choose its pupils it would be full of Christinas'.
"Now the family asks the question - when this man was discharged from prison on 13 December 2012, why was the recommendation, made a few weeks earlier by mental health experts, that he be supervised after release whilst adjusting to life back in the community, not followed up?"