A teenage girl who killed seven-year-old Katie Rough while suffering from “delusional thoughts” has been given a life sentence.
The 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was 15 when she smothered the child and then slashed her with a Stanley knife in York.
A judge ordered the teenager to be detained for a minimum of five years after she admitted manslaughter due to diminished responsibility in the “truly exceptional case”.
Katie’s family were in Leeds Crown Court for the sentencing, where the killer appeared via video-link sitting with her head down and clutching a soft toy.
The girl did not speak to confirm her identity, with her name spoken by a court usher and youth worker instead.
“The gravity of the offence of killing a small child speaks for itself,” Mr Justice Soole told her. “The level of danger to the public is high.
“In the circumstances of your continuing silence, the critical question is whether there is any reliable estimate as to how long that danger will continue.”
Katie’s relatives said the end of the legal process came as a relief but it was not “the end of our story”.
“Our story is about a loving home and family that was torn apart on a day when we lost our daughter,” the family said in a statement.
“Our story goes on into a future where our home feels very empty, but we will keep going for the sake of our other children and our grandson.”
Relatives expressed their gratitude to the family, friends, York community and well-wishers who raised money in Katie’s memory to provide 10 years of education and welfare for two Ugandan children around her age.
A bench and flowers have been dedicated to Katie in York’s Museum Gardens and a sculpture is being made for the Moorlands Nature Reserve.
“Our hopes for the future are for a loving and safe home for the rest of our family, and we hope we will now find the privacy for that to happen,” the family said.
“Katie’s memory will live on in our hearts but also more widely, as a little girl who brought more colour to her world.”
A previous hearing heard the defendant was “troubled and damaged” before she killed Katie on 9 January.
Mr Justice Soole had made an interim hospital order for 12 weeks for further psychiatric tests on the teenager ahead of Friday’s sentencing hearing.
In July, the court heard she smothered Katie with a gloved hand before slashing her throat and torso with a Stanley knife.
The teenager was found standing in a nearby cul-de-sac covered in blood and still carrying the knife as she rang 999 to tell police what she had done.