Freed Killer Nicola Edgington Found Guilty Of Murder Of Grandmother Sally Hodkin

A killer who was freed to kill again was today found guilty of the murder of an innocent stranger.

Nicola Edgington, 32, pinned grandmother Sally Hodkin, 58, to the ground and slashed her throat with a butcher's knife, virtually decapitating her.

Moments before, she had attacked artist Kerry Clark, 22, at a bus stop but fled when she was disarmed.

Edgington, of Greenwich, south east London, was found guilty of murder and attempted murder by a jury at the Old Bailey today.

The prosecution said she was suffering from a borderline personality disorder and her actions were deliberate.

But the defence argued that she was mentally ill with schizophrenia and her responsibility was diminished.

Sally Hodkin was killed in a random attack as she walked to work in October 2011

In 2006, she was ordered to be detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act for killing her mother Marion, 60, the previous year.

She had stabbed her nine times after returning to the family home in Sussex.

By 2009, Edgington was released to live in the community while being monitored by a doctor, nurse and social worker.

But as her private life began to unravel, Edgington was unable to cope as she stopped taking her medication, the court heard.

Things came to a head in October, 2011, when she tried to seek help at a local hospital - but walked out shortly after being taken to the psychiatric unit.

She had hoped to make a new life but a couple of romances went sour.

The court heard that a former boyfriend from a local gym sent her abusive messages, she became pregnant but had a miscarriage and an attempt to reconcile with her family fell flat.

Messages on Edgington's Facebook page where she signed in as Princess Nicole, were read to the court.

On the day before the killing, she sent a message to her brother Tom saying: "I am missing mum bad. I have just had a miscarriage and to be honest, no one is taking care of me like she did."

It ended "Love you xxx"

But the reply read: "You stabbed her to death and left me to find her body. It's good news about your miscarriage. People like you should be sterilised. Do us all a favour and cut your wrists."

In the early hours of October 10, the day of the killing, police were called when she told cab office employees that she needed to be sectioned.

She was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital where officers helped her book in at reception at around 4.30am.

But as they left, Edgington told them she did not feel safe there. She made a series of phone calls and later 999 calls.

In one call, she said: "I'm a very dangerous schizophrenic. If you don't come and help me I'm going end up hurting someone."

Edgington was accepted to the hospital's onsite psychiatric unit Oxleas House, but was not taken there until 6.30am.

But just after 7am, Edgington said she was going to call her care co-ordinator and left. Staff called police.

Edgington injured one woman before killing Sally Hodkin on a shopping street in Bexleyheath

Edgington calmly took two buses to Bexleyheath, south east London, and bought a large knife from an Asda supermarket.

Miss Clark told the court she had to fight for her life. She said: "I fell to the floor and she was on top of me. I had to fight her off.

"We were grappling. I managed to grab the blade with one hand and kick her off me. It happened very quickly."

A passers-by rushed to help Miss Clark, screams were heard round the corner after Edgington grabbed another knife from a butchers.

Mrs Hodkin was on her way to work as an accounts manager at a legal firm when Edgington targeted her for death.

Mark Heywood QC, prosecuting, said: "She set upon her with the bigger knife, attacking her with such sustained force that her neck was cut completely open.

"She was overwhelmed. She died almost immediately from the catastrophic injuries inflicted on her.

"Miss Edgington approached and deliberately and viciously attacked each of these women without warning, without any provocation."

Edgington, whose face was hidden by her red hair during most of the hearing, was remanded in custody to be sentenced at a later date.

The verdict means she will be sentenced to life imprisonment and the judge will set a minimum term she must serve before she is released.

She may serve some of the sentence in a secure psychiatric hospital with the consent of the Justice Secretary.

There were gasps and tears from members of Mrs Hodkin's friends and family in court. Miss Clark, now 24, watched from the public gallery.

The jury had been out only five hours and 24 minutes.

During the trial, forensic psychiatrist Dr Philip Joseph said Edgington had been misdiagnosed on the evidence available at her first trial.

He said her actions had been deliberate and not those of someone who was so ill they did not know what they were doing.

Neither of the attack victims knew Nicola Edgington

Alison Saunders, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "These attacks occurred on a busy street in Bexleyheath in full view of passers-by, some of whom were children on their way to school. They could only look on in horror.

"In both incidents, the prosecution's case was that Edgington's clear intention was to kill. Our case was that, in doing these things, Edgington knew and understood what she was doing and knew that it was wrong.

"On the morning of October 10 2011, she armed herself with large knives and set upon her victims ferociously.

"Her first victim, who was waiting for her bus to work, survived only because she was able to fight off her attacker. Her second victim was not so fortunate and tragically had no chance to defend herself."

Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Gwyn said: "On the morning of October 10 2011 Nicola Edgington identified her innocent victims from amongst the many members of the public, most of who were making their way to work.

"Within a matter of minutes she violently attacked two women and sadly succeeded in murdering one of them.

"For Sally Hodkin, her day had started out like any other. She too was making her way into work when she suffered a violent death at the hands of Nicola Edgington.

"Sally's family has had to endure the painstaking details of the death of their loved one and they have shown great dignity during this trial, having attended court every day.

"Sally's death has understandably had a huge effect on her family and I hope that today's verdict will help in some small way to alleviate some of their heartache."

Sally Hodkin's family questioned the decision to release Edgington

After the case, Mrs Hodkin's family issued a statement in which they paid tribute to her and questioned why Edgington had been released.

It said: "Sally Hodkin was a loving, caring wife, fantastic mother and grandmother and terrific friend. There is not a day that goes by when we do not think about her, she is sorely missed by all that knew her.

"It has been extremely difficult as a family to sit in court for the last five weeks and hear the evidence unfold in this case."

It added: "We cannot quite understand how or why Nicola Edgington was released back into society so soon after killing her own mother.

"Her release in 2009 didn't involve any independent psychiatrists or mental health tribunals; the Ministry of Justice simply followed recommendations from the Bracton Centre where she was being held.

"This cannot have been the right decision, otherwise we would not be here today.

"The savage attack on Sally Hodkin by Nicola Edgington was not a normal stabbing. She continued to attack Sally whilst she was on the floor. She slit her throat with a meat cleaver and nearly decapitated her.

"It is our opinion that this woman should never be released back into society. The public need to be protected from people like her.

"Sally Hodkin was walking to work on the 10th October 2011, minding her own business. She did not know Nicola Edgington, had never met her before, yet was horrifically murdered for no apparent reason."