Mother who killed her children in frenzied knife attacks handed indefinite hospital order

A mother who killed her children, aged seven and 11, in knife attacks described by a judge as “almost too horrific to comprehend” has been handed an indefinite hospital order.

Telling Veronique John (pictured) that the order may mean she is never released from a secure hospital, High Court judge Mr Justice Choudhury said the fatal attacks on Ethan and Elizabeth John had been frenzied and heinous.

A jury deliberated for around 40 minutes at Nottingham Crown Court before concluding that John inflicted injuries which led to the deaths of her daughter and son and also unlawfully stabbed their father, Nathan John, in the stomach.

John was not present in court as a jury in a fact-finding hearing decided she was responsible for unlawfully causing wounds to the neck of both victims.

Her daughter Elizabeth was pronounced dead at her home in Stoke-on-Trent on June 11 last year, having suffered a fractured skull and knife wounds, while the 50-year-old’s son suffered more than 20 sharp force injuries.

John, who has been diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder as well as personality and depressive disorders, was ruled unfit to enter a plea or take part in the trial.

Passing the hospital order, Mr Justice Choudhury said the reason for the “abominable savagery” shown in killing the children appeared to be an attempt by John to “hurt” her husband because of fears he may take their children away.

The judge told John via a video-link to Rampton high security hospital: “The facts of this case are almost too horrific to comprehend.”

The wounds to John’s son were “almost as if” she was trying to decapitate him, the judge said.

“The injuries were no less horrifying in Elizabeth’s case,” the judge added.

The killing of the children appeared to have been an attempt to “hurt” their father and prevent him from taking them away, Mr Justice Choudhury told John.

John remained seated with her head bowed and wiped away tears as the judge continued: “You claim that you are not a monster… but your acts were either those of a monster or someone who has lost all capacity to reason.

“It’s clear that by the time of the trial you were not fit to plead. It has been conclusively determined that you did kill your own children and make an attempt to kill Nathan.”

A hospital order with a special restriction to protect the public was appropriate, the judge ruled, in light of the extreme and brutal violence used against two defenceless young children.

In a victim impact statement read to the court by prosecutor Peter Grives-Smith, Mr John, who was stabbed shortly after his children were attacked, said his wife had “viciously and brutally” taken their lives.

Mr John said: “On June the 11th my whole world was turned upside down.

“I lost the two most important and precious persons in my life at once.”

Ethan and Elizabeth had “instantaneously and undeservedly” lost their lives, Mr John said, adding that it was horrific that one of the siblings may have witnessed the other being “put to death in a beastly manner”.

The trial of the facts hearing did not require jurors to return verdicts of guilty or not guilty on charges of murder and attempted murder, with the panel instead asked to decide whether John “did the acts alleged against her”.

The court was told John, originally from the Caribbean island of St Vincent, “erupted” into violence at her home in Flax Street, Stoke, because she did not want her husband, Nathan John, to have their children.

She then headed to a car wash where he worked to stab him.

After returning home, John dialled 999 and told the operator: “I am calling to report I just killed my two kids.”

The charity shop worker told police after her arrest: “If you have a gun shoot me. I am not a monster – he was going to take them from me.

“I did it because I love my children – to protect the children.”

She went on to claim that she could not remember anything about the nature or number of the injuries inflicted on the children.

Medical efforts to save the children were “futile” due to the severity of their injuries, the court heard.

Detective Chief Inspector Cheryl Hannan, of Staffordshire Police, said: “This case was distressing for all involved, it was traumatic for the local community and has left so many people devastated by what happened.

“It’s not lost on me nor any of the officers that were involved in this investigation the lasting effect it will have on the many people that knew Ethan and Elizabeth, and the fond memories they have of them.

“My thoughts remain with their father, family and friends at such a tragic time both here and in other parts of the world.”

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