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Teen girls guilty of woman's torture death

Press AssociationPress Association 6/04/2016

Two 15-year-old girls who battered a woman to death in her own home in England have been found guilty of murder.

Angela Wrightson, 39, was found dead, naked from the waist down, in her blood-spattered living room in Hartlepool, County Durham, in December 2014.

She had more than 100 injuries on her body following her five-hour long ordeal at the hands of the girls, who were 13 and 14 at the time.

The girls attacked Wrightson with various weapons, and police said 25 of the injuries were made by a coffee table, a computer printer, a wooden stick laced with screws, a television set, a shovel, ornaments, a picture frame and a kettle.

During the attack, the pair took selfies of themselves and even posted a picture on social media taken in the police van after the incident.

The girls were in tears in the dock after they were convicted at Leeds Crown Court on Tuesday.

The girls' accounts of what happened differed but the jury heard that Wrightson, who was 1.62m tall and weighed 41kg, was assaulted in 12 separate locations around the room.

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***ing kill her," as the other laughed in the background.

The court heard the defendants left the house for "time out" around 11pm, during which time they went to see a friend, covered in blood.

The pair returned to the scene around 2am and stayed for a further two hours before calling the police to take them home.

Officers who collected the girls described them as laughing and joking and in "high spirits".

The picture taken in the police vehicle was posted to the social media site Snapchat with the message: "Me and (older girl) in the back, on the bizzie van again."

Wrightson's body was discovered the next morning by her landlord in her living room which was described as "akin to a bomb site".

The trial heard the girls had visited 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 Wrightson to go to the shop for them.

Both had been drinking before they arrived and the older girl told the court she had taken prescription drugs earlier in the day.

An earlier selfie posted to Snapchat showed the defendants smiling with Wrightson pictured in the background shortly before her death, with further selfies showing the girls drinking cider from a bottle.

The jury of eight women and four men deliberated for just over three hours before returning the guilty verdicts.

The older girl accepted that she struck the victim but said she did not intend her serious harm. She said her younger friend had told her to carry out the attack, telling her to "knock her out".

But the younger girl said she played no part in the assault and did not encourage her co-accused in any way.

She told police and the jury that her friend became angry and launched the attack after Wrightson made a comment about her family.

Gerry Wareham, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "The attack that the girls committed against Angela Wrightson was brutal and sustained. One can only imagine the fear and distress that she must have felt in the final hours of her life.

"Given the severity of their assault on Miss Wrightson, one would expect the girls to have shown a degree of remorse in the wake of her death.

"Instead, they laughed and smiled while posing for a 'selfie', with each continuing to deny that they had murdered her throughout the investigation and prosecution of this case."

Detective Chief Superintendent Peter McPhillips, of Cleveland Police, said: "This was a highly unusual and shocking incident. Throughout almost 25 years of service I have never come across such a brutal murder committed by such young girls.

"Angela was subjected to a prolonged, sustained attack..."

The girls will be sentenced on Thursday.

In a statement, Wrightson's family said: "No sentence, regardless of its severity, will ever bring Angie back. The two girls responsible will one day be women themselves, free to live their lives and perhaps have children of their own. A right which was taken from Angie."

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