Mother killed children in rage, court told

Elizabeth John and Ethan John
Elizabeth John and Ethan John died in June last year [Staffordshire Police ]

A mother "erupted" into violence and killed her two children because she did not want her husband to have them, a jury has heard.

Veronique John, 50, allegedly stabbed son Ethan John, 11, more than 20 times and inflicted brain damage on her daughter Elizabeth John, aged seven, in June 2023, Nottingham Crown Court heard.

The trial-of-facts hearing was told the accused, wearing her dressing gown, then headed to a car wash to stab her husband Nathan John in the stomach before returning to her Stoke-on-Trent home and phoning 999.

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

The jury heard the charity shop worker told police who 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."

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

Before the case was opened by the prosecution, trial judge Mr Justice Choudhury told jurors their task would be to find whether John did the acts charged against her.

Prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith told the court Ms 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.

The court heard the couple had experienced profound difficulties in their relationship, with her not wanting him to have an internet-enabled phone.

Mr Grieves-Smith told the hearing Ms John, who was born on the Caribbean island of St Vincent, killed her children hours after making a "chilling" internet search asking "can a foreigner be charged with murder in the UK"?

'Tension grew'

Mr Grieves-Smith said: "What happened on the 11th of 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."

Ms John is said to have later told officers who interviewed her: "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."

The court also heard Ms John said she "did it because I love my children - to protect the children", adding "if there's any possible way I could be put to death, I would like that".

During his opening remarks, the judge said such cases naturally gave rise to strong feelings but urged the jury to strive for an objective assessment of the evidence.

The trial, which is expected to last six days, continues.

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