By: 5 July 2017
Nick Johnson QC instructed in the Katie Rough murder trial

Nick Johnson QC from Exchange Chambers in Leeds has been instructed by Howard & Byrne Solicitors to defend the 16-year-old girl charged with the murder of seven-year-old Katie Rough.

He leads Martine Snowdon, another senior criminal barrister in the case.

Since January this year when the incident took place, Johnson has been working closely with the defence team, including eminent expert psychiatrists an psychologists specialising in children and adolescents, to explore the girl’s highly complex mental heath issues, who cannot be identified for legal reasons.

It is extremely rare for a female child to kill a much younger child and it became clear that the girl’s mental health had deteriorated seriously in the months and weeks leading up to Katie’s tragic death.

The Defence were able to satisfy the Prosecution and Court that the girl’s mental illness substantially impaired her ability to understand the nature of her own conduct and form rational judgments.

Accordingly, on 3 July at Leeds Crown Court before Mr. Justice Soole, the Prosecution accepted a guilty plea to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The Court has adjourned the sentence to 20 July, while it explores further psychiatric opinion as to the appropriate outcome.