Angela Wrightson murder accused 'saw each other every day'

Angela Wrightson.
Angela Wrightson.

The younger of two girls accused of battering a tragic alcoholic to death in her own home says the pair have known each other since "they were little", a court heard.

The 14-year-old and her 15-year-old co-accused are standing trial over the murder of 39-year-old Angela Wrightson at an address in Stephen Street, Hartlepool in December 2014.

She began giving evidence before jurors at Leeds Crown Court today.

Under questioning from her defence counsel, John Elvidge QC, the girl admitted she had known her co-defendant for many years - but the pair had grown closer in the months before they were both charged over the savage attack on Ms Wrightson.

She said the two friends had gone missing together in the past - and she herself had previously vanished from home for as long as two days.

She revealed she began to consume alcohol at the age of 12, with cider being her drink of choice.

Speaking via videolink at the court, with her co-accused watching on from the dock, she said: "I have known her (older girl) since we were little."

Asked by Mr Elvidge who she went missing with in the past, she said: "I would go missing with (older girl). I would go missing with other people too."

Asked how long she would disappear for, she added: "Sometimes just overnight and sometimes for two days."

Mr Elvidge asked the girl how long she and her co-accused had been "hanging around" together prior to Angela Wrightson's death.

She replied: "For a few months. We would see each other every other day."

Both girls deny murder but the older girl will admit manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The trial heard last week from Dr Idranil Chakrabarti that the 15-year-old girl had been diagnosed with a recognised medical condition which he stated "substantially impaired" her ability to understand the nature of her conduct, make rational judgements and exercise self control during the savage assault on Ms Wrightson.

The 39-year-old woman, who weighed just over six stone at the time of her death, was found half-naked in her blood-splattered home with in excess of 100 injuries.

The court has heard she was set upon with a variety of weapons over several hours - including a TV, a computer printer, a table and a stick laced with screws.

Fellow psychiatrist Dr Kenny Ross agreed she suffered from Other Mixed Disorder of Conduct or Emotions but insisted it was "unlikely" to have had a significant impact on her pattern of behaviour on that night.

Earlier today, the court heard the conclusion of evidence from Dr Ross, in which he reaffirmed his view the older girl did not fulfil the criteria for having diminished responsibility at the time she killed Ms Wrightson.

Jurors also listened to a chilling recording of a call made by the two girls at 4.19am on December 9 - just minutes after they left Ms Wrightson's house after the assault upon her.

The two girls were heard giggling while they asked for a police car to pick them up and take them home.

The older girl, laughing throughout, is heard to say she was "freezing cold".

Jamie Hill, the defence barrister acting on behalf of the older girl, said her light-hearted nature in the wake of carrying out a violent attack indicated she may have been suffering from depersonalisation and derealization disorders - which mean the person affected does not believe they or their environment is real.

Mr Hill continued; "Being light-hearted or giggling within minutes of leaving a house just after the scene the jury have been told about, is this not an indication towards derealization."

Dr Ross said he did not feel the incident did indicate the girl was acting under the belief the situation was "unreal" at the time of the attack.

Explaining the characteristics of both disorders, Dr Ross told the jury: "The individual may feel they are no longer doing their own thinking, imaging or remembering.

"That their movement or behaviour are somehow not their own and that their body seems lifeless or detached and that their surroundings seem to lack colour and life and appear as artificial, like they are on a stage in which people are acting contrived roles. In some cases they may feel as if they are viewing themselves from a distance or as if they are dead."

But under questioning from prosecutor Nicholas Campbell QC, Dr Ross reiterated that he did not believe the defendant was suffering from depersonalisation or derealization when she launched the attack.

Dr Ross said: "I remain of the opinion that she does not fulfil the criteria for diminished responsibility."

The case continues.