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Reporting restrictions finally lifted in teenage double-murder case

The Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand in London UK. Image shot 2014. Exact date unknown.The shocking story of how a 15-year-old girl concocted a plan to brutally kill her own mother and sister can finally be told after reporting restrictions were lifted.

Kim Edwards roped in her boyfriend, Lucas Markham, to carry out the “brutal executions” of dinner lady Elizabeth Edwards, 49, and her 13-year-old daughter Katie as they slept at their home in Spalding, Lincolnshire last April.

The couple, likened to Bonnie and Clyde during their trial, had sex, shared a bath and watched four Twilight vampire films as they “revelled” after the killings.

The identities of the pair could not be reported throughout a trial at Nottingham Crown Court in 2016 because of their age, but restrictions on naming them were lifted by three judges at the Court of Appeal today following representations by various newspaper publishers and the Press Association.

The pair were both originally given 20-year minimum custodial terms, but the Court of Appeal reduced them to sentences of 17-and-a-half years.

The ban on naming the pair was lifted by Sir Brian Leveson, Mr Justice Blake and Mr Justice Lewis, and the full story together with pictures of the couple is now being carried on regional newspaper websites such as the Yorkshire Post’s.

Sir Brian said: “In the circumstances of this case, notwithstanding that the appellants are only 15 years of age, we have no doubt that the lifting of reporting restrictions is in accordance with law, pursues a legitimate aim and is a reasonable and proportionate measure … properly balancing the welfare of the appellants … against the Article 10 rights of the press and the interests of the public.”

He announced that, as a result of the court’s decision, “the names of these two young people are now capable of being reported”, allowing reporting of the “full facts and circumstances” surrounding the case.

Both defendants were given life sentences for the killings, which were planned in a McDonald’s.

Prosecutor Peter Joyce told the trial that Edwards’ sister and mother were stabbed a total of 10 times in a “cold, calculated and callous” onslaught at their home in Dawson Avenue, Spalding.

Mr Joyce told jurors that Markham walked for around 30 minutes along Spalding’s Coronation Channel to reach Edwards’ home before knocking three times on a bedroom window as a pre-arranged signal that he had arrived.

Edwards then opened a bathroom window to allow Markham to climb into the house from the roof of a shed, and gave him advice on moving quietly around the property.

Detective Superintendent Martin Holvey, of Lincolnshire Police, said in a statement after the Court of Appeal’s ruling: “The judges have ruled that there is a strong public interest in the full facts of this exceptional case being known, meaning that LucasMarkham and Kim Edwards can now be named.

“The murders of Elizabeth and Katie Edwards were horrific and brutal and the whole country shared a sense of shock that two juveniles, who were only 14 years old at the time, could have carried out such a horrendous act.

“I’m sure that sense of disbelief and horror will be deepened now it is known that it was Elizabeth’s own daughter who was responsible for plotting with her boyfriend to carry out the murders.

“Evidence heard in court that was previously restricted can now be reported. These include details about the behaviour and actions of Kim Edwards and Lucas Markham afterwards, which was chilling.

“They remained downstairs in the house, watching TV and eating food, whilst the bodies were upstairs. They showed no remorse at all when they were eventually found by officers and during their police interviews.

“These new revelations about the case will undoubtedly focus attention on Spalding once again and I would like to repeat sentiments I have made earlier, thanking the community for their co-operation throughout the case and paying tribute to the courage of Elizabeth and Katie’s family.

“They have endured a terrible ordeal and faced the additional anguish of knowing that this horrific crime was committed by a family member.”

Sir Brian, setting out the details of the “exceptional case”, said Markham and Edwards “clearly became besotted with each other”.

Both were unhappy in their respective homes. Edwards held grudges against her mother and sister and Markham came to “share her grudges and hatred” towards them.

They “jointly decided” to kill Edwards’ mother and her “entirely innocent” sister.

Sir Brian said the facts of the case “cannot be properly understood without identifying that the appellants murdered the mother and 13-year-old sister of Kim Edwards”.

No new material had been put before the court to “justify the conclusion that lifting anonymity would cause harm to either appellant”, and there was no evidence that reporting their identities would adversely affect their future rehabilitation.

He added: “The reality is that anonymity lasts only until 18 years of age and both appellants face a very considerable term of detention that will stretch long into their adult life.

“The process of reflecting on their dreadful crimes, addressing their offending behaviour and starting a process of rehabilitation will be a lengthy one.”

Reducing the minimum terms, Sir Brian said that although the court “commend the care” given by the trial judge in a “difficult sentencing exercise”, it had concluded that “he failed properly to allow for the effect of the full admissions of fact which both appellants, then under 15 years of age, made, such that the only issue which their legal advisers were duty bound to consider was whether psychiatric examination justified the presentation of an argument based on insanity or diminished responsibility”.