Mother killed her two children 'because she didn't want her husband to have them', court told

A mother dialled 999 and told the operator "I just killed my two kids" after attacking them with a knife, a court has been told.

Veronique John killed her seven-year-old daughter Elizabeth and 11-year-old son Ethan because she did not want her husband to have them, prosecutors told Nottingham Crown Court.

Warning: This article contains descriptions of violence against children some may find distressing

The trial-of-facts hearing heard John stabbed Ethan more than 20 times and inflicted brain damage on her daughter Elizabeth, before heading to a car wash in a dressing gown to stab her partner Nathan John in the stomach.

She then returned home, dialled 999 and said: "I am calling to report I just killed my two kids."

The charity shop worker allegedly told police who arrived at her home in Stoke-on-Trent on 11 June last year: "If you have a gun shoot me. I am not a monster - he was going to take them from me."

A day before the fatal attacks, John had been arrested for assaulting her husband with a piece of wood while their children were getting ready for bed. She had allegedly suspected him of having an affair.

The court was told John and her husband had experienced profound difficulties in their relationship and she had not wanted him to have an internet-enabled phone.

Prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith said John's "rage was boiling just under the surface" in the hours before the children were killed.

"What happened on 11 June didn't come out of the blue. Tension grew in the days before. That day she just erupted, killed her children and attacked Nathan," he said.

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John killed her children hours after making a "chilling" internet search asking, "Can a foreigner be charged with murder in the UK?", Mr Grieves-Smith said.

Ethan was pronounced dead after being found in a bedroom with a 17cm-long neck wound, while Elizabeth was discovered in the living room, having suffered head trauma and "three areas of sharp force", including to her stomach.

The jury was told a neighbour heard "high-pitched screaming and crying that lasted for a little while" a few minutes before John walked to the car wash where her husband had stayed the night.

The court heard how the 50-year-old later told interviewing officers: "I didn't want my husband to get them [the children]."

She continued: "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. I mean it 100%."

John, of Flax Street, Stoke, is charged with two counts of murder, attempted murder and an alternative count of wounding, but has been ruled unfit to plead.

She is being treated at a secure hospital and was not in the dock to hear the Crown's opening speech.

The trial continues.