Veronique John: Mum killed her children - jury (2024)

Veronique John: Mum killed her children - jury (1)Image source, Family

Lee Bottomley

BBC News, West Midlands

PA Media

BBC News

  • Published

A woman has been detained indefinitely for killing her seven-year-old daughter and son, 11, in what a judge described as a "frenzied attack on two defenceless children".

Ethan John was stabbed 21 times, Nottingham Crown Court heard, while his sister Elizabeth was also knifed and left with a fatal brain injury, at their family home in Stoke-on-Trent in June 2023.

Veronique John was charged with murder, as well as the attempted murder of her husband, but was ruled unfit to enter a plea due to mental illness.

Judge Mr Justice Choudhury told her she would remain at a secure hospital.

In a trial of the facts, a jury concluded the 50-year-old had inflicted the fatal injuries.

This report contains detail that may be distressing to some readers

Jurors deliberated for about 30 minutes before unanimously ruling John unlawfully stabbed her children in the neck and head, before stabbing her husband Nathan John at a local car wash.

A trial of the facts involves the prosecution setting out the case in front of a jury, but the defendant does not have appear in the proceedings.

The jury decides if the defendant committed the offences, but their conclusions cannot result in criminal convictions and there is no finding of guilt or innocence.

Instead they were asked to decide whether John "did the acts alleged against her".

John, of Flax Street, in Stoke, was not in court to hear the jury's findings, but wept when she heard the judge's comments via video link from Nottinghamshire's Rampton high-security hospital.

'Shoot me'

During the trial, the jury heard John "erupted" into violence and killed her two children because she did not want her husband to have them.

After the attacks, she then headed to the car wash to stab him before returning to her home and phoning 999, the prosecution said.

The jury heard the charity shop worker told police when they arrived at her home on 11 June: "If you have a gun shoot me. I am not a monster - he was going to take them from me."

The prosecution said John's "rage was boiling just under the surface," a day after she was arrested on suspicion of assaulting her husband with a piece of wood, amid her own suspicion he was having an affair.

Image source, BBC

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

"The facts of this case are almost too horrific to comprehend," he said.

"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."

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mr John said his whole world had been turned upside down.

"I lost the two most important and precious persons in my life at once," he said.

It was horrific, he said, that one of the siblings might have witnessed the other being "put to death in a beastly manner".

Twenty one stab injuries

A forensic pathologist told the court Ethan suffered wounds to his hand, which suggest he tried to defend himself.

In total, he suffered 21 separate knife wounds - including to the head, chest, neck and hands.

Elizabeth also suffered a fatal wound to her neck and had extensive bruising on the left side of her face and forehead.

The seven-year-old had a stab wound that went through her stomach and a brain injury that was caused by at least one forceful blow, the pathologist said.

John, who is originally from the Caribbean island of St Vincent, was deemed unfit to enter a plea or take part in the trial.

She is being treated at a high-security hospital, and was diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder as well as personality and depressive disorders.

Watching on via video link, John was told she would be detained indefinitely.

Mr Justice Choudhury said it was not possible to say how long the disposal order would last, but it would not be time limited and justice might demand that her admission lasted many years, if not the rest of her life.

The judge stated that was for others to determine.

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