A 16-year-old girl who killed seven-year-old Katie Rough has been given a life sentence and detained for a minimum of five years.
Katie died after being smothered by the teenager, who was 15 at the time, and then slashed with a Stanley knife in a park in York, in January.
The defendant, who cannot be named, admitted manslaughter due to diminished responsibility at a previous hearing.
She was handed a life sentence and ordered to be detained for a minimum of five years by a judge at Leeds Crown Court who said it was a “truly exceptional case”.
The teenager, who appeared by video-link at Leeds Crown Court as Katie’s family looked on from the jury box, sat with her head down, clutching a soft toy, throughout the hearing.
She was flanked on-screen by a court usher and a youth team leader who confirmed the girl’s name when she was asked to identify herself.
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The judge Mr Justice Soole told her: “The gravity of the offence of killing a small child speaks for itself.”
He said: “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.”
Katie was found with severe lacerations to her neck and chest on a field in the Woodthorpe area of York on January 9 but did not respond to frantic attempts to revive her.
Earlier this year a judge heard she actually died from being smothered by her teenager attacker.
At the same hearing, the court heard the teenager was found standing in a cul-de-sac covered in blood and carrying a blood-stained Stanley knife as she rang 999 to tell police what she had done.
The judge heard that the girl had started suffering from mental health problems more than a year before the killing and may have been trying to prove Katie was not a robot as she had “irrational beliefs”.
The girl denied murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility at the hearing in July – a plea that was accepted by the prosecution.
Sentencing the teenager, the judge said that what precisely happened on the field was “known only to you”.
He said: “The utter tragedy and devastation of all this needs no emphasis. In this truly exceptional case, I have concluded that it is necessary to impose a sentence of detention for life.”
The packed court heard that experts still cannot agree on the nature of the girl’s mental disorder, and how long it will take before she can no longer be considered a danger to others.
Katie’s father wiped his eyes as he left court with her mother, Alison, and many other members of their family.
In a statement read outside court by a police officer, the family 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.
“We are so grateful for everyone who has helped us in these last months, including the whole community in York, who have been so generous with their kindness, their time and their money.”
The statement added: “Katie’s memory will live on in our hearts but also more widely, as a little girl who brought more colour to her world.”
Detective Chief Inspector Andrea Kell, from North Yorkshire Police, said: “This investigation has been one of the most tragic, and challenging, I have ever dealt with during my career as a police officer.
“There are no positive results from cases such as these.
“Regardless of the conviction and sentence, nothing will ever replace the loss of Katie.”
(Top picture: SWNS)