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Aisling Murray, 23, insisted on admitting the killing of Chloe Fahey – rather than pleading guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility – because of her overwhelming remorse.
A defence lawyer held up a piece of paper bearing the plea she should enter. But twice, she said simply “guilty” to the charge of murder. Both the judge and prosecution at Manchester Crown Court had also acknowledged that Murray’s refusal to offer the lesser plea was a symptom of her severely psychotic state.
Mr Justice Moses took the unusual step of setting a minimum tariff of only 10 years, saying that “culpability vanishes in a case like this”.
It was because Murray was “a decent human being” that she wanted to accept responsibility for her terrible deeds. He hoped she would immediately be transferred from prison to a hospital.
Peter Wright, QC, said that Murray attacked her daughter in the rear bedroom of her semi-detached house in Stretford, Manchester, on June 27. She began the assault by hitting the child with part of a door lock, and then used a carving knife from the kitchen. The court heard that Murray had a long history of psychiatric treatment and intervention by social services.
Three days before the killing Murray told her mental health worker, Melanie Dunn, that she was not experiencing any symptoms. She also revealed that she had stopped taking her medication.
Her partner, David Fahey, began to notice her “strange and increasing” desire to be with Chloe at all times. On June 25, Murray was taken by police to hospital after attacking Mr Fahey and cutting herself on some glass.
The next day Murray’s behaviour at Chloe’s school was so bizarre that an ambulance was called.
Ms Dunn and the other members of the mental health team called to see her at 4pm, but decided they were not in a position to section her.
After the case Mr Fahey, 31, recalled breaking down on what would be his daughter’s last evening alive.
“I went home to find Aisling and Chloe playing in the garden. We had dinner and then I started crying because I just didn’t know what to do about Aisling.
“Chloe kept handing me tissues, hugging me and saying, ‘It’ll be OK, Daddy’.”
He added: “I feel we’ve been let down.”