York & North Yorkshire

Katie Rough death: Teen detained for life for killing

Katie Rough
Image caption Katie was found seriously injured near playing fields in York in January

A teenager who killed seven-year-old Katie Rough has been detained for life and ordered to serve a minimum term of five years.

The girl, 16, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility in July.

Katie was smothered and slashed with a knife at a playing field in Woodthorpe, York, on 9 January.

Mr Justice Soole at Leeds Crown Court said it was a "truly exceptional case".

'Dangerous risk'

The defendant, who appeared via video link, sat with her head down clutching a soft toy as Katie's family looked on from the jury box.

Sentencing the teenager, the judge said: "The gravity of the offence of killing a small child speaks for itself. The level of danger to the public is high.

"In the circumstances of your continuing silence, the critical question is whether there is any reliable estimate as to how long that danger will continue."

Her barrister said this was not a "malicious manoeuvre", but a coping mechanism, as she was still suffering from post-traumatic stress.

A previous hearing was told how the girl, who was 15 at the time of the attack, suffered with severe mental health problems and was convinced people "were robots".

During the hearing, the court was told how the girl was found standing in a cul-de-sac covered in blood and carrying a Stanley knife as she rang 999 to tell police what she had done.

A post-mortem examination showed Katie had two severe cuts to her body, one to her neck and the other to her torso, but died from being smothered.

Image caption Paul and Alison Rough found their daughter at the same time as police officers reached her

In July, after denying murder but admitting manslaughter, the teenager was given a 12-week interim hospital order to allow for further assessment of her mental health before sentencing.

The judge was told the girl began suffering from mental health problems more than a year before the killing and that due to her "irrational beliefs" she may have been trying to prove that Katie was not a robot.

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

Nicholas Johnson QC, defending, told the previous hearing his client "was clearly crying out for help and support".

During the sentencing hearing, the court was told psychiatrists still cannot agree on the exact nature of the girl's mental disturbance.

Some have explored whether she was suffering from a depressive disorder and others considered if she has an emerging personality disorder.

Mr Johnson explained she had not engaged with the experts and asked the judge to conclude that she was "unwilling because she was unable".

Image copyright PA
Image caption More than 300 people attended Katie's funeral in February

NHS England said it had commissioned an independent inquiry to investigate the treatment the teenager had received prior to the killing.

Following sentencing a statement by Katie's family was read outside court by police.

It said: "Our story is about a loving home and family that was torn apart on a day when we lost our daughter.

"Our story goes on into a future where our home feels very empty, but we will keep going for sake of our other children and our grandson.

"Katie's memory will live on in our hearts but also more widely, as a little girl who brought more colour to her world."

Det Ch Insp Andrea Kell, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "This investigation has been one of the most tragic and challenging I have ever dealt with.

"There are no positive results from cases such as these."

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