THE heartbroken dad of a seven-year-old girl fatally stabbed in a park has recalled holding her in his arms while “losing her”.
Eltiona Skana, 30, was found not guilty of murdering Emily Jones as she ran towards her mum on Mother’s Day this year in Bolton, Greater Manchester.
Little Emily died after her throat was slit in the parkCredit: Enterprise News and Pictures
She had been with her family in the park on Mother’s DayCredit: MEN Media
The paranoid schizophrenic had pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
On Friday, December 4, Skana was cleared of murder after the prosecution directed the jury to find her not guilty on mental health grounds.
Emily, who was “full of joy, love and laughter”, sadly passed away shortly after being stabbed in Bolton despite the best efforts of her family and medical responders.
Her dad, Mark, recalled Emily playing with her scooter on that sunny afternoon in Queen’s Park, while enjoying an outing with her mum, solicitor Sarah Barnes.
He had encouraged Emily to “do your fastest lap” while Sarah was going for a run in the park, according to an interview with the Mail on Sunday.
Mark, a credit manager for a law firm, told her they’d join her mum, before going to buy an ice-cream treat.
She replied: “Yes brilliant.”
Spotting her mother exercising at the base of the hill, an excited Emily called out “mummy, mummy, mummy” while racing towards her.
But, at that moment, the little girl was brutally attacked by another woman, shortly before 2.35pm on Mother’s Day.
Mourners lay floral tributes at the scene of Emily’s death shortly after she was killedCredit: Mercury Press
Police cordoned off the crime scene in Bolton on Mother’s Day 2020
As Emily passed Skana – who was sitting on a park bench – she suddenly got up, grabbed the little girl and slashed her throat with a craft knife.
Sarah was completely unaware of the horrific attack, as she was wearing headphones and had neither seen nor heard her girl. She continued running.
Meanwhile, Mark assumed that Emily had toppled from her scooter – as she was 200 yards away – until a woman shouted: “She’s been stabbed”.
The Mail says that he ran to his daughter, lying critically injured on the ground after being thrown down by her killer, who then ran off.
He shouted for help while holding Emily from behind.
Mark said: “I just thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to lose her, I’m going to lose her.’
“I was shouting, ‘Just stay with me Emily, stay with me. Don’t leave me.’
“She was just trying to breathe. It was just horrific. I wouldn’t wish anybody to see that happen to their own daughter.”
Mark phoned Sarah to tell her to ‘come back’.
A nurse took over, giving Emily first aid while another parkgoer gave Mark a T-shirt to help stop the bleeding.
Tragically, Emily died 30 minutes after her arrival at Salford Royal Hospital.
Emily died shortly after the apparently random attack, which was witnessed by her dadCredit: Greater Manchester Police
Floral tributes and teddy bears were left at the parkCredit: MEN Media
The jury heard that Skana, who came to the UK from Albania with her family in 2014, has a history of mental illness.
When police raided her flat after her arrest they found a stash of untaken, anti-psychotic drugs, which amounted to around a month’s worth of medication.
Mark told the Mail that Skana was a “ticking timebomb”.
He also dismissed as ‘nonsense’ the local NHS mental health trust’s review which concluded his daughter’s killing couldn’t have been prevented or predicted.
This was despite Skana failing to take her meds.
Mark said it was an “absolute public outrage” that Emily had been killed.
The seven-year-old’s grieving family has previously described Emily as “the light of our lives“.
In May, Judge Richard Mansell said her family had suffered “unimaginable loss”.
When Skana was initially charged with the youngster’s murder and appeared via video-link for a hearing at Manchester Magistrates’ Court, he told Emily’s family “you have my deepest sympathy”.
“I cannot imagine the pain you and your wife are going through at the moment.
“You have my personal and deepest sympathy as well as the sympathy of everyone involved in the court process,” he added.
PARENTS PAY TRIBUTE TO THEIR LITTLE GIRL
Emily Jones: ‘Light of our lives’
Paying tribute to Emily earlier this year, her parents said: “Emily was 7-years-old, our only child and the light of our lives.
“She was always full of joy, love and laughter.
“Emily had such a cheeky smile and was beautiful inside and out. She had a heart as big as her smile.
“Emily was never happier than when she was spending time with her family and friends, she was our own little social butterfly.
“Emily had a passion for the outdoors and loved to play any sport, even when she was wearing her pink sparkly dresses!!
“We are beyond devastated that this random act of violence means that we will never get to see our beautiful little girl grow up into the wonderful young lady she was showing such promise of becoming.
“It is truly heart breaking to wake up to a world without Emily in it and we cannot comprehend why this has happened.
“We would like to thank the members of the public that assisted us in the park and express our gratitude to the emergency services for doing their upmost to save Emily’s life.
“Thank you to everyone for their kind messages of support and for continuing to respect our privacy at this difficult time.”