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Girl 'shared pic after murder'

Published 01/07/2015

Angela Wrightson was found naked from the waist down on a sofa at her home in Stephen Street, Hartlepool, court heard
Angela Wrightson was found naked from the waist down on a sofa at her home in Stephen Street, Hartlepool, court heard
The trial is being held at Teesside Crown Court

A 13-year-old girl took a photo of her 14-year-old best friend in the back of a police van and shared it on Snapchat only a few hours after they committed a "sustained and brutal" murder, a court has heard.

Angela Wrightson, 39, suffered more than 100 injuries after she was battered with a wooden stick, a TV set, a computer printer and a coffee table among other items, a jury was told.

She was found naked from the waist down on a sofa at her home in Stephen Street, Hartlepool, in December, and forensic experts found shards of glass and gravel around her "private parts", Teesside Crown Court heard. They also found ash in her right ear.

After the murder, Nicholas Campbell QC, prosecuting, said both girls, who were in local authority care, knew that police were looking for them as they had spent the night out. Having failed to get a taxi to collect them from the murder scene, they rang the police to take them home at gone 4am, the jury was told.

He told the jury that on the way back the younger defendant took a photo on her phone of the other girl in the police van and shared it on Snapchat. "Me and [names older girl] in the back of the bizzie van again," was the message that went with it, the jury heard.

A police officer in the van had heard the words "Snapchat" and "turn the flash on" and realised they were taking photographs so he told them to stop, the prosecution said.

The jury had heard how Ms Wrightson, an alcoholic who would buy cigarettes and drink for underage youths, was found dead by her landlord.

Mr Campbell said: "It became clear that Angela Wrightson had been the victim of a sustained and brutal assault.

"There were well over 100 injuries. The evidence at the scene of the crime showed she had been struck in 12 separate locations within that room.

"A number of implements were used as weapons. They included a wooden stick with screws standing proud of the surface, a TV set, a printer from a home computer, a coffee table and a shovel.

"Smaller items such as a kettle and a metal pan were used together with a glass vase and other ornaments."

Later, the younger girl rang a friend using Facebook, jurors heard, and that witness went on to tell police that during the call she heard the defendant shout: "Go on (names older defendant), smash her head in, bray her, f*****g kill her."

The witness told police she thought she then heard laughing in the background.

The friend thought the defendant sounded drunk.

Now aged 14 and 15, the defendants had formed an "intense" relationship, the court heard.

They were a bad influence on each other, the jury was told, and the trial would show they were jointly responsible.

Both defendants deny murder, with the older girl saying she did not intend serious harm, and her co-accused claiming she did not encourage or take part in the violence.

The younger girl took selfies at the crime scene after the violence had started and published one on social media, the court heard.

One taken at 9pm showed her co-accused in the background, and further back, Ms Wrightson. Both girls were smiling, but the woman was not, Mr Campbell said.

And there were already marks on her face.

Further selfies that the younger girl took showed the girls drinking cider from a bottle.

The girls had let themselves in through Miss Wrightson's unlocked front door at around 7.30pm and left after 11pm, jurors heard. They came back at around 2am the next morning before leaving a final time at 4am.

Ms Wrightson may already have been dead by 11pm, the court was told.

Between 11pm and 2am they chatted with a local teenager who asked why they had blood on their clothes, jurors heard.

They told him they had both fallen over.

He heard the older girl say: "We have to get back to the house, check if she is dead."

The younger girl was staying with foster parents while the older one was in a local authority home, the jury was told.

The older girl had visited her mother on the day of the attack, the jury heard. "You will be hearing that theirs is not a constructive relationship," Mr Campbell said.

The girl was seen to be upset and when a relative asked why, she said her mother "had told her to go and kill herself", the court heard.

The younger girl confided in a friend the next day how a terrified Ms Wrightson begged for them to stop, the court heard.

"She said it had all started when Angela Wrightson had threatened her with a knife and when (she) retaliated, (the other girl) joined in as well," Mr Campbell said the witness will claim the defendant told her. "Thereafter (the older girl) had done most of the stuff, they had smashed up the house and they had smashed the bits over Angela Wrightson."

The girl told her friend that the TV was smashed over their victim and they had "stamped all over her head".

Mr Campbell said the defendant told her friend "Angela Wrightson had been saying 'please don't, stop, I'm scared'" but they carried on.

Mr Campbell said the friend will say the younger defendant wanted Ms Wrightson dead and "had a hate for Angie, but she didn't know why".

After news of the murder spread the next day, the older girl told a support worker it was "shocking".

During a shopping trip, she asked the adult: "How do you think it feels to kill someone? Do you think you feel empty? Do you think you would feel bad?"

She also confided she would probably end up in Low Newton prison, saying it might "sort her out", the Crown said, and she could do courses, "would have her own room and a television and a PlayStation".

She also talked about and played a song called Dance with the Devil about a 13-year-old would-be gang member forced to murder someone as an initiation, the court heard.

The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.

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