Woman who killed seven-year-old Emily Jones in Bolton park fails in sentence appeal

Emily Jones
Emily was just seven when she was killed Credit: MEN Syndication

A woman who killed a seven-year-old girl by stabbing her in a Bolton park on Mother's Day has lost an appeal against her sentence.

Eltiona Skana attacked Emily Jones while she played on her scooter in Queen's Park, in 2020.

The 31-year-old admitted manslaughter by diminished responsibility and was given a life sentence with a minimum term of ten years and eight months.

The minimum tariff was increased from eight years last year after the sentencing judge, Mr Justice Wall, admitted he had made an error in calculating the term.

Flowers and teddy bears at the scene where Emily was killed Credit: MEN Syndication

Lawyers for Skana, who is originally from Albania and has paranoid schizophrenia, appealed against the length of the sentence - arguing the minimum term was too long and that the judge should only have given her a hospital order.

She appeared over video link at the Royal Courts of Justice today with her hair pulled back, wearing a grey t-shirt with a star motif and assisted by a translator.

Eltiona Skana in a police van soon after the attack on Emily Credit: MEN Syndication

Emily’s father Mark Jones also observed the hearing over video link but was not invited to make any submissions.

The court heard Emily was in Queen's Park with her dad on her scooter on 22 March, 2020 when she spotted her mum Sarah Barnes out jogging.

She was calling out to her mother as she scooted past the park bench where Skana was sitting alone, armed with a craft knife.

Skana got up, grabbed Emily and cut her throat before running off.

Police search for evidence in Queen's Park Credit: MEN Syndication

Lady Justice Macur, Mr Justice Sweeney and Mr Justice Morris dismissed an appeal against the sentence by Skana’s barrister Simon Csoka QC.

Mr Csoka told the court none of the three psychiatrists who gave evidence at the trial have been told by Skana what she was experiencing during the psychotic episode or why she chose to attack Emily.

Eltiona Skana has never told doctors what drove her to attack Emily Credit: MEN Syndication

He said: “To carry out the act in a busy park on a Sunday is, in itself, evidence of some deluded reality that is playing out entirely in Ms Skana’s mind and then tragically playing out in the real world.”

Lady Macur admitted the sentencing judge had a “difficult exercise” but the court accepted his original decisions.

She said the judge had “sufficient evidence” to find Skana “knew that what she did was wrong and attempted to escape detection and escape the scene”.

She said: “Not only must the judge bear in mind the most chilling aspects and most tragic outcome of the circumstances of the 22nd March 2020 - but also the difficulties presented by the ability of the defendant suffering from such a mental illness.

“We consider that the judge bore in mind all responsibilities to the sentencing exercise that he must conduct and did so in a fashion that is to be commended.

“We accept the sentence was severe but we regard it to be in line with the circumstances of the case as a whole.”

She added that the family have faced “trauma and tragedy” following Emily’s death.

“We express deepest sympathies for Emily’s loss. Words cannot adequately encompass the grief that her family and friends have been subject to”, she said.

Speaking during Skana’s sentencing, Emily’s parents said: "Emily was the beat in our hearts, the spring in our step and the reason we got up every morning.

“Emily was our beautiful, spirited little girl, a bundle of energy with an infectious personality.

“Our future has also been taken away -how can you enjoy life when the biggest part of it isn't there any more?

“We cannot move on, because at this time, we cannot see a future. We can only focus on today. It is literally one day at a time."

Skana is being held at Rampton Hospital, a secure psychiatric facility in Nottinghamshire. She could be transferred to a prison if her condition improves.