LONDON • Two teenage girls who took selfies as they beat a vulnerable British woman to death before phoning police to ask for a lift home have been jailed for life, with a minimum jail term of 15 years.
The pair, aged 13 and 14 at the time of the murder, battered frail Angela Wrightson over five hours in December 2014 in her home with household items, including a shovel, a coffee table and a television set, eventually leaving her for dead.
The rare case - and the young age of the killers - has sparked comparisons with the 1993 murder of toddler Jamie Bulger by two 10- year-old boys. Almost 400 children under the age of 18 have reportedly been convicted of murder in Britain over the past two decades.
Sentencing the girls on Thursday, Judge Henry Globe called the crime a "cowardly attack" that involved "gratuitous degradation".
Ms Wrightson, 39, was found with more than 100 injuries in her blood-spattered living room in the industrial town of Hartlepool in north-eastern England. "This was a sustained attack over a long period of time carried out with weapons in many different ways," the judge told the girls, both now 15.
The attack that the girls committed against Angela Wrightson was brutal and sustained. One can only imagine the fear and distress that she must have felt.
PROSECUTOR GERRY WAREHAM, saying the girls had shown little remorse.
Pathology evidence revealed "an absolute minimum" of 70 separate slash injuries, 54 separate blunt force injuries and wounds to the victim's hands, wrists and arms.
The seven-week trial heard that the girls, who come from troubled backgrounds, were frequent visitors to Ms Wrightson's house and she would often buy them alcohol and cigarettes. On the day of the attack, the pair let themselves into her home before restraining and torturing her.
During the attack, one of them shared a picture on social media site Snapchat showing them smiling in front of their victim. One also talked to a friend over Facebook, who overheard her say: "Go on. Smash her head in. Bray (hit) her."
The teens, who cannot be named due to their age, called the police at about 2am to get a lift home. While in the van, they posted another photograph on Snapchat with the message: "Me.... in the back, on the bizzie (police) van again."
The judge summarised a statement from Ms Wrightson's mother, Maureen, in which she described "the horror of seeing Angie's battered body in the mortuary". He said: "She had been disgusted by the laughing and giggling and sharing of photographs."
Prosecutor Gerry Wareham said the girls had shown little remorse. "The attack that the girls committed against Angela Wrightson was brutal and sustained. One can only imagine the fear and distress that she must have felt," he said.
The case has revived memories of the Bulger killing. Jamie was abducted from a crowded shopping centre in Liverpool by Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, then 10, who took him to a nearby railway line, where they tortured and battered him to death. The boys became the youngest convicted murderers in Britain for 250 years but were released on parole in 2001 after serving the minimum term of eight years. They have since started new lives under different identities.