Teenage girl killed Katie Rough after suffering delusions that people were robots

3 Jul 2017 @ 11.46 am
| Crime, News
  • Teenager pleads guilty to manslaughter
  • She smothered Katie, 7, before slashing her with a knife
  • Court hears distressing details of fateful day in January
  • Teen suffered delusions that people ‘weren’t human and were robots’
  • She was ‘crying out for help’

A 16-year-old girl has admitted killing seven-year-old Katie Rough by smothering her.

The teenager smothered Katie, seven, with a glove-covered hand and slashed at her body with a Stanley knife, Leeds Crown Court was told on Monday (July 3).

Katie was found with severe lacerations to her neck and chest on a playing field next to Alness Drive in Woodthorpe, York, in January, and did not respond to frantic attempts to revive her.

She was declared dead a short time later in hospital.

The accused appeared at Leeds Crown Court

Her killer may have been trying to prove the youngster was not a robot, as she had “irrational beliefs” about how people “may not be human and may be controlled by a higher and hostile force”, the court heard.

The defendant, who was 15 at the time of the killing, appeared by video link where she pleaded guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility.

The dark-haired girl sat next to a solicitor and was wearing a black hoodie.

Katie’s parents Paul and Alison were in court with other members of the family to hear the guilty plea by the defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Katie smothered

The tent put up by police at the scene where Katie was found. Photograph: YorkMix

The teenager was standing in a nearby cul-de-sac, covered in blood and carrying a blood-stained Stanley knife, when she rang 999 to tell police what she had done.

Graham Reeds QC, prosecuting, told a judge sitting in a packed courtroom how a local resident saw the teenager “distressed, covered in mud and had a blood-stained right hand”.

Peter Mills found Katie around 15 to 20 yards beyond the entrance to a recreation field off Alness Drive known as The Square on the afternoon of January 9.

She was lying on her back, with her hands to the side and above her head and with her face covered in blood.

He attempted to find a pulse or signs of breathing but Katie was “lifeless”.

Mr and Mrs Rough arrived as a police officer discovered a “substantial” 6cm knife wound to the young girl’s neck.

Mr Reeds said: “Upon seeing the blood in Katie’s hair and the throat injury, Alison started to scream.

“She then tried to cradle Katie’s head but the police officer tried to lead them both away so they did not have to witness any more.

“They were both led away in considerable distress. Alison was saying ‘she’s killed my daughter’.”

Red Stanley knife

The scene at Alness Drive on January 10, 2017

Paramedics who attended found another wound to Katie’s torso – which ran for around 20cm from her sternum to her stomach and had cut through skin, fat and muscle, with shorter cuts to each side.

Her clothing had been pulled up to inflict the wound, which was made with a red Stanley knife the teenager had taken from her grandmother’s kitchen and handed to police when she was detained near the scene.

Blood staining on Katie’s green coat with a fur-trimmed hood, school trousers and school shirt all suggested she was lying on her back when she was cut with the knife.

Tests later found that Katie had been smothered and the knife wounds inflicted after her death.

Mr Reeds said the teenager had held her gloved hand over the young girl’s face in order to smother her.

The court heard the teenager had called police and told them the girl was dead and she did not know where she was.

Earlier, another resident had seen both girls lying on the grass, with the teenager on top of Katie, but said both got up and Katie appeared unharmed and not in distress.

Convinced people weren’t human

The death of Katie Rough shocked the city and the country

The court heard how the teenage girl began suffering from mental health problems more than a year before the killing.

Mr Reeds said the defendant had displayed “strange behaviour towards other people and herself”, and had started to self-harm before she killed Katie.

“Over a course of a year, she developed an interest in the macabre,” he said.

“She lost most of her friendship group at school, started to harm herself with a blade. She was frequently very upset and reported suicidal thoughts.”

She was given medication for anxiety and depression, and had been suffering from delusions.

Another view of the scene on Alness Drive. Photograph: YorkMix

The prosecutor said the girl had talked of being convinced that people “weren’t human and were robots”.

He said the girl got distressed when one doctor asked her “whether she killed Katie to test whether she was a robot”.

Defending, Nicholas Johnson QC told the court his client had been having “delusional and bizarre thoughts” for months.

He said the teenager had thoughts that people around her “may not be human and may be controlled by a higher and hostile force”.

It may be his client was “driven by the irrational belief [Katie] may not have been human and needed proof of this”, Mr Johnson added.

The barrister said his client had posted a picture on social media two days before the killing with a concerning message.

He said: “She was clearly crying out for help and support.”

‘Dreamed of killing someone’

Katie’s funeral was held at York Minster. Photograph: PA / Danny Lawson

Mr Reeds said her family had taken her out of school due to her problems.

Over the next months she was taken into the care of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

In December 2016, she was prescribed fluoxetine for anxiety and depression as questions were raised over whether she was suffering from psychosis.

“This was not formally diagnosed but was flagged up for further investigation,” Mr Reeds said.

The prosecutor said the experts disagreed on her exact diagnosis but one thought she was suffering from an emerging schizotypal personality disorder, but she was not schizophrenic.

A friend interviewed by police following Katie’s death told them she was “nice but weird” and said she liked to talk about death.

She said she had a book in which she drew pictures depicting death and had plans to run away and self-harm.

The friend said the teenager told her she dreamed of killing someone, said people were out to get her and she heard voices in her head.

Violent drawings

Police recovered a number of items from the scene and from the teenager’s home.

These included drawings of stick-men in various poses depicting killing and death, and a reference to “they are not human”.

The paper was blood-stained and the court heard it had been cut with the same knife used to slash Katie.

Her bedroom contained books, notes and comics of a violent nature, and a Simba soft toy that had its ears cut off and stuffed into its stomach through a vertical slash.

Killing pre-planned

Police at the scene back in January

The defendant didn’t speak during the court hearing.

Her solicitor confirmed her name when asked by the judge, Mr Justice Soole.

Mr Johnson, defending, asked the court if the charge of murder could be put to the girl again and she wrote her plea on a piece of paper.

Her solicitor told the court: “I can confirm she has indicated not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter.”

Mr Reeds, prosecuting, said: “We are going to accept that plea of manslaughter by diminished responsibility.”

Mr Reeds said the defendant has been subject to four psychiatric and psychological reports.

He said there was no dispute that her mental health problems meant she was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time she killed Katie, even though the killing was pre-planned.

The judge said he wanted more questions answering by the medical experts before he could pass sentence.

He apologised to Katie’s family for the delay and said the case will be adjourned until July 20.