Referring to a change in law related to minimum sentences which took effect on April 1, 2020, Justice Wall issued a statement yesterday amending a sentencing error relating to Eltiona Skana, 30, for the killing of 7-year-old Emily Jones on March 22, 2020.
At the direction of Justice Wall, despite having pleaded guilty, Skana was found not guilty of murder December 4 after the prosecution barrister Michael Brady QC indicated that based on evidence provided during the trial by Dr. Saifullah Syed Afghan they would no longer be pursuing the murder charge.
As a result of returning the ruling requested by Justice Wall, some of the "people involved with the case" received threats online according to Sky News. Days later her trial on the charge of manslaughter began.
On December 8, 2020, Skana was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
When initially sentencing Skana, Justice Wall noted her minimum term as being eight years, half of the determinate sentence of 16 years.
"However, when I passed that sentence I had forgotten from 1 April 2020 the law as to the minimum period to be served by a violent or sexual offender whose sentence was or exceeded seven years was two thirds and not one half of the sentence," Justice Wall stated during a brief hearing at Teesside Crown Court.
"Thus the minimum term which I set, and which was based on the premise that had I passed a determinate sentence the defendant would only have had to serve half her sentence before being eligible for release on parole, was calculated in error. It is an error to which all in court fell, for which I take full responsibility."
Her corrected sentence is 10 years and eight months.
On March 22, Mother's Day, Emily was at Queen's Park in Bolton with her father and mother. She was riding a scooter while her mother was jogging in the park.
Skana, who arrived in the United Kingdom from Albania in 2014 and immediately sought asylum was seated on a bench in the park armed with a craft knife that she had purchased earlier in the day.
As Emily passed on her scooter at approximately 2:15 pm, Skana is said to have lunged at the girl and slashed her throat in a single movement before shoving her to the ground and attempted to run off screaming that "She tried to kill me."
A witness at the park, Mt. Canty was able to stop Skana and detain her until officers arrived on scene.
Emily was airlifted to Salford Royal Hospital but was pronounced dead shortly before 4 pm.
Skana was found to have been previously diagnosed with "incurable" paranoid schizophrenia and had been sectioned in 2015 and 2017 related to threatening her sister and attacking her mother with an iron.
A search of her residence revealed that she had stopped taking her prescribed medication for what appeared to be a month, and told Dr. Afghan after her arrest that she had been "psychotic, hearing and seeing things."
Shortly after her arrest, Skana told Jonathan Pettet, a psychiatric nurse team leader at Rampton Hospital that, "I killed someone, that's the reason why I'm here." When he inquired further she was said to have responded saying, "It was premeditated. I waited in the park, I picked my victim and I killed somebody and tried to run away."
In the end, Justice Wall was not entirely convinced that she was not cognizant of what she was doing and stated, "You retained a real understanding of the nature of your actions... which you knew to be wrong."
Skana remains at the high-security Rampton Hospital where she is a patient under section 45A of the Mental Health Act of 2003. Should she be determined to be recovered enough to be transferred to jail, she will serve our the remainder of her sentence there. Should she not be deemed fit to be released to jail, she will remain at the hospital indefinitely.