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Two girls (15) given life for murder of woman cannot be identified, judge orders

By Dave Higgens

Published 08/04/2016

Victim: Angela Wrightson
Victim: Angela Wrightson

Two teenage girls subjected a 39-year-old woman to "gratuitous degradation" as they battered her to death in her home, according to a judge who said they must be locked up for a minimum of 15 years.

The pair were 13 and 14 when they murdered Angela Wrightson in the lounge of her home in Hartlepool, Co Durham, using weapons including a shovel, a TV, a coffee table and a stick studded with screws during a five-hour ordeal.

A judge at Leeds Crown Court recounted how Miss Wrightson suffered an "absolute minimum of 70 separate slash injuries and 54 separate blunt-force injuries - 71 were to the head and face, 31 were to the body, 22 were deflection injuries to the back of her hands, wrists and arms as she tried to ward off the blows".

Mr Justice Globe said it was a "cowardly attack" and that Miss Wrightson's defensive injuries backed up one of the girls' claims to friends that their victim was pleading with them to stop.

The judge outlined how "in addition to punching, kicking and stamping", Miss Wrightson suffered "an absolute minimum of 27 blows" with 14 different items.

But he refused to allow the girls, now both 15, to be named.

Dismissing an application by media organisations to lift an order banning their identification, he pointed to multiple suicide attempts by the older girl.

He said some of these incidents happened in the Crown Court building during the trial, which finished earlier this week when both girls were found guilty of murder. The teenagers showed no obvious emotion when the judge passed sentence, although one wiped away the occasional tear during the two-hour long hearing. After they were taken from the court a loud wail could be heard from the cell area.

The judge told them: "It was an attack that included gratuitous degradation."

He said: "She (Miss Wrightson) undoubtedly suffered considerably, both mentally and physically, before she ultimately lost consciousness and died."

The judge went through how Miss Wrightson, who was 5ft 4in and weighed six-and-a-half stone, was found dead in her blood-spattered living room in December 2014 after the ordeal.

While at the house, the younger girl made a phone call over Facebook to a friend, who heard her say: "Go on (older girl). Smash her head in. Bray her. F****** kill her," as another laughed in the background.

A selfie posted to social media site Snapchat showed the defendants smiling with Miss Wrightson pictured in the background shortly before her death, with further selfies showing the girls drinking cider from a bottle. After the attack, the girl rang the police to take them home and they took a picture in the police vehicle which was posted to Snapchat with the message: "Me and (older girl) in the back, on the bizzie van again."

The trial heard the girls had visited Miss Wrightson, an alcoholic known as "Alco Ange", on a number of occasions as she would buy them alcohol and cigarettes.

On the evening of the murder they let themselves into her home and asked Miss Wrightson to go to the shop for them.

The judge told them: "You then abused her hospitality and attacked her again and again in the very place where a person is supposed to feel safe."

The judge read a victim impact statement from Miss Wrightson's mother Maureen. The judge said: "She describes the horror of seeing Angie's battered body in the mortuary. She does not think she will ever be able to blink those images away.

"Having seen photographs of what Angie looked like at that time, I readily understand why she is of that view."

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