A woman accused of murdering a Bolton schoolgirl told doctors she saw ‘angels’ who spoke to her following the seven-year-old’s death, a court has heard.
Eltiona Skana, 31, killed Emily Jones at Queen’s Park on Mother’s Day – March 22 – a jury heard as a proceedings got underway on Thursday (November 26).
The defendant appeared before jurors at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court via video link from Rampton Hospital – a psychiatric facility in Nottinghamshire – as the trial started.
At an earlier hearing, Skana denied murder.
She has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
The second day of the trial at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court was held today (Friday).
Emily was riding her scooter along a path at the park on her way to meet her mum when she was attack with a ‘craft knife’, the jury has been told.
The child died two hours later.
Prosecutor Michael Brady QC told the court Skana was seen running from the scene, but was chased down and stopped by a walker who witnessed the incident.
She was arrested, he told the court, and taken to North Manchester police station.
Following her arrest, Skana was assessed by a number of mental health experts, including Dr Victoria Sullivan, a consultant psychiatrist at the Edenfield Centre in Prestwich.
Dr Sullivan appeared in court to give evidence on Friday.
She told jurors she spoke to Skana on March 23 following her arrival at the centre.
The psychiatrist said Skana told her she had been suffering from ‘paranoid delusional beliefs’ and had spoken about having visions of people.
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She described the defendant ‘smirking and smiling’ and ‘responding to unseen stimuli’ while she was trying to assess her – and during her entire stay at the centre.
Dr Sullivan said other staff reported seeing Skana ‘hitting out’ and ‘muttering’.
She said a junior doctor told her the defendant said she had seen ‘angels’.
The doctor said: “She said angels talked to her, she could see them and at times they gesticulated.”
Dr Sullivan told the jury Skana’s sister turned up at the unit ‘distressed’.
The witness said: “She told us Miss Skana had been missing days in her medication.
“She had had mental health difficulties for a number of years, she intermittently did not take her medication and had been a risk to other people.
Dr Sullivan added: “I suspected she had either not been taking medication in the community or it had for some reason stopped working.”
The court has heard Skana, originally from Albania, came to the UK in 2014 and had been having injections of anti-psychotic drugs each month since 2017.
Skana also told medics this medication had caused her mental health to deteriorate.
Skana told Dr Sullivan in mid-2019 she swapped to a different anti-psychotic medication, taken orally, which she said made her less paranoid.
The court heard the defendant lived in a flat in Bolton, while her mother, two sisters and a brother lived nearby in Manchester. Jurors have been told she had no job, no friends and spent her time having coffee with her mother.
Skana was also assessed by psychiatrist Dr Suhanthini Farrell, who was tasked with judging her mental state the evening after her arrest alongside two others – Dr Kathuria and Dr Nubi.
Dr Farrell also appeared in court to answer questions.
She told the jury Skana was ‘calm and generally cooperative’ while in in custody.
Dr Farrell went on to tell the jury the defendant seemed ’emotionless’, ‘guarded’ and ‘suspicious’ during their discussion and was not visibly upset.
She added: “Rather than responding intuitively and naturally, she was thinking about an answer and then giving it to us.”
The doctor added: “My impression was there was active psychotic symptoms. The symptoms were subtle.
“Objectively, she did appear to be paranoid.”
The jury was also shown a clip of an interview between a police officer and Tony Canty – the man who chased down Skana following the incident at the park.
During the video, Mr Canty said he did not see exactly what had happened to Emily when she passed the bench where the defendant was sat.
He said it looked as if the woman had grabbed the girl in a ‘headlock’, the jury heard.
Mr Canty said in the clip he heard the defendant shout, ‘she tried to kill me’.
The trial will continue on Monday with further evidence from psychiatric professionals.
Mr Brady prosecuting, told jurors on Thursday the main issue for them to decide on is whether Skana’s paranoid schizophrenia was the reason for the killing – or ‘a convenient excuse behind which to hide’.