Court told life sentences for Spalding teenage killer couple were 'manifestly excessive' and 'wrong in principle'

A teenage couple detained for life for the brutal killings of a mother and her daughter have challenged their 'manifestly excessive' minimum 20-year terms.

Thursday, 4th May 2017, 1:54 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:52 pm
Liz Edwards

The boy and girl, then both aged 14, had sex, shared a bath and watched vampire-themed films after the murders of dinner lady Elizabeth Edwards, 49, and 13-year-old Katie Edwards in Spalding.

Now both 15, the couple were handed minimum terms of 20 years at Nottingham Crown Court last November by Mr Justice Haddon-Cave.

Lawyers representing them at the Court of Appeal in London today, Thursday May 4, urged three judges to find that the sentencing judge was in error when he decided on the terms to impose.

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Katie Edwards

The boy watched the proceedings via video-link as arguments were made on his behalf to Sir Brian Leveson, Mr Justice Blake and Mr Justice Lewis.

After hearing submissions from two QCs that the minimum terms were manifestly excessive and “wrong in principle” - and from the prosecution that the sentences were “right” - the judges said they would give their decision on the sentence appeals on a date to be fixed.

On the same day the court will give a ruling on whether reporting restrictions currently banning the naming of the teenagers should be maintained or lifted.

When sentencing the teenagers, believed to be Britain’s youngest double killers, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said the case had “few parallels in modern criminal history”.

Katie Edwards

He said they had a “toxic” relationship, and had acted in a grotesque way after the stabbings.

Mr Justice Haddon-Cave told the teenagers: “The killings were brutal in the form of executions and both victims, particularly Elizabeth Edwards, must have suffered terribly in the last minutes of their lives.”

The Crown Court heard that the boy, who admitted murder, used a kitchen knife to stab both victims in the neck after attacking them as they slept at their home last April.

His girlfriend, who helped to plan the “cold, calculated and callous” killings, denied murder.

She claimed to be suffering an abnormality of mental function which impaired her ability to form rational judgments, but was found guilty after a five-day trial.

During the hearing on Thursday, Sir Brian said: “These are life-changing events for so many people.”