Mother given indefinite hospital order for killing children in knife attack

A woman has been handed an indefinite hospital order after a jury ruled that she killed her two young children in a knife attack and stabbed her husband in the stomach.

Veronique John, 50, was not physically present at Nottingham Crown Court on Monday as a jury in a fact-finding hearing decided she was responsible for unlawfully causing wounds in attacks which the prosecution described as "almost too horrific to contemplate".

Her daughter Elizabeth, seven, was pronounced dead at her home in Stoke-on-Trent on 11 June last year, having suffered a fractured skull and knife wounds, while John's 11-year-old son, Ethan, suffered more than 20 sharp force injuries.

John, who has been diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder as well as personality and depressive disorders, was ruled unfit to enter a plea or take part in the trial.

She is currently being treated at Rampton high security hospital in Nottinghamshire and was seen wiping away tears with a tissue as she listened via a video link as judge Mr Justice Choudhury imposed the order.

The judge said the reason for the "abominable savagery" shown in killing the children appeared to be an attempt by John to "hurt" her husband.

He stated: "The facts of this case are almost too horrific to comprehend.

"You claim that you are not a monster... but your acts were either those of a monster or someone who has lost all capacity to reason."

The trial of the facts hearing did not require jurors to return verdicts of guilty or not guilty on charges of murder and attempted murder, with the panel instead asked to decide whether John "did the acts alleged against her".

After hearing evidence over five days, the jury took around 40 minutes to reach its unanimous decision.

The court was told John, originally from the Caribbean island of St Vincent, "erupted" into violence at her home because she did not want her husband, Nathan John, to have their children.

She then headed to a car wash where he worked to stab him in the stomach.

After returning home, John dialled 999 and told the operator: "I am calling to report I just killed my two kids."

The charity shop worker told police after her arrest: "If you have a gun shoot me. I am not a monster - he was going to take them from me."

John, said to be boiling with rage after being arrested for assaulting her husband while suspecting him of having an affair, later stated in an interview: "It's something I was thinking about for a long time - just kill myself and the kids. Unless you guys are offering me the death penalty I have nothing else to say.

"I did it because I love my children - to protect the children. If there's any possible way I could be put to death, I would like that. When I say that, I am not joking. I mean it 100%."

She went on to claim that she could not remember anything about the nature or number of the injuries inflicted on the children.

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Medical efforts to save the children, who both had neck wounds, were "futile" due to the severity of their injuries, the court heard.

The judge had ruled that John, who did not advance a defence of insanity, was unfit to plead after being told by psychiatrists that she was "mentally very unwell" and would be unable to follow the course of the proceedings.

In a victim impact statement read to the court by a barrister, Mr John stated his wife had "viciously and brutally" taken their two children's lives and said it was horrific that one of the siblings may have witnessed the other being "put to death in a beastly manner".

Mr John said his "whole world was turned upside down", adding: "I lost the two most important and precious persons in my life at once."