Two teenaged 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, County Durham, using weapons including a shovel, a TV, a coffee table and a stick studded with screws during a five-hour long 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 judge praised a member of the court staff who saved the girl’s life after one incident.
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 five-hour long 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.
The trial heard that 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.