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Teenager who killed Katie in ‘utter tragedy’ could be released in five years

Katie Rough died after she was smothered and slashed with a knife in a York park in January.

A teenager who killed a seven-year-old girl in a park has been told she could be released from detention after five years by a judge who said: “The utter tragedy and devastation of all this needs no emphasis.”

But Mr Justice Soole told the 16-year-old, who was 15 when she smothered and knifed Katie Rough, she would not be released until she was no longer deemed to be dangerous.

And the judge said: “In the circumstances of your continuing silence, the critical question is whether there is any reliable estimate as to how long that danger will continue.”

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Katie Rough's funeral was held at York Minster (PA)

He was speaking on Friday at Leeds Crown Court as he sentenced the teenager to a life sentence with a minimum term of five years.

Clutching a soft toy, the girl sat with her head bowed throughout the sentencing hearing, watching through a videolink from a room elsewhere in the building.

Katie was found with severe lacerations to her neck and chest on a field in the Woodthorpe area of York on January 9 and did not respond to frantic attempts to revive her.

But the judge heard that she actually died from being smothered by her teenage attacker.

At an earlier hearing the court was told that the teenager was found standing in a cul-de-sac covered in blood and carrying a blood-stained Stanley knife as she rang 999 to tell police what she had done.

The judge was told that the girl began suffering from mental health problems more than a year before the killing.

Prosecutors said she had reported delusional thoughts as well as depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

They said the girl had talked of being convinced that people “weren’t human and were robots”.

Nicholas Johnson QC, defending, told the last hearing it may be that his client was “driven by the irrational belief (Katie) may not have been human and needed proof of this”.

The barrister said his client had posted a picture on social media two days before the killing with a concerning message.

He said: “She was clearly crying out for help and support.”

On Friday the packed court heard that experts still cannot agree on what is the girl’s mental disorder, partly because she had failed to engage with doctors.

Psychiatrists have explored whether she was suffering from a depressive disorder and there has also been a concern she was suffering from an emerging schizo-type personality disorder.

Mr Johnson said: “The defendant is, as yet, unable to address psychologically the causes of her behaviour.”

The girl denied murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility at the hearing in July.

The judge said it was a “truly exceptional case” and told the court: “The utter tragedy and devastation of all this needs no emphasis.”

He told the teenager: “The gravity of the offence of killing a small child speaks for itself.”

Katie’s father wiped his eyes as he left court with her mother, Alison, and many other members of their family who watched proceedings from the jury box.

In a statement read outside court by a police officer, the family said: “Our story is about a loving home and family that was torn apart on a day when we lost our daughter.

“Our story goes on into a future where our home feels very empty, but we will keep going for sake of our other children and our grandson.”

The statement said: “Katie’s memory will live on in our hearts but also more widely, as a little girl who brought more colour to her world.”

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