Woman who stabbed her partner jailed for minimum of 17 years

Jury rejects Emma-Jayne Magson’s claim she acted in self-defence and convicts her a second time after retrial

A woman who stabbed her partner through the chest during a drunken row has been jailed for a minimum of 17 years, after a jury rejected her claim she acted in self-defence and convicted her of murder a second time.

Emma-Jayne Magson, 28, had faced a retrial at Birmingham crown court for the killing of 26-year-old James Knight, after the court of appeal heard new psychiatric evidence showing a defence of diminished responsibility would have been available to her.

She had denied murder in her first trial, at Leicester crown court. But on 5 March a majority verdict by the jury again found her guilty of Knight’s murder during a drunken row at her home in Sylvan Street, Leicester, after a night out.

Passing sentence on Monday, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker told Magson that he would have passed an even stiffer sentence had it not been for legal limitations on the court’s powers. “I regret I am unconvinced you have, as yet, any real remorse for having caused James Knight’s death,” Baker said.

On the night of the murder, Magson and Knight had been out in Leicester city centre until about midnight, the court heard. Jurors were told the pair were arguing so badly on their way home that a cab driver asked them to get out of his car. Knight was subsequently caught on CCTV pushing Magson to the floor as they walked home.

Magson said she “hit out” at Knight, who had a cocktail of steroids, cocaine, marijuana and alcohol in his system, after he grabbed her by the throat and pinned her to a kitchen work surface. A postmortem report showed the blade penetrated his chest to a depth of 11.5cm (4.5in), passing through a lung and piercing his pulmonary artery.

Jurors heard that Magson, who had previous convictions for violence against others, did not immediately call for help, instead hiding the knife and changing her clothes before calling 999. When Knight’s brother came, she told him Knight had been beaten up by bouncers.

Baker said the “precise circumstances” of how Knight came to be stabbed “may never fully be known”. But, he added: “I am sure the account which you provided to the police, being strangled by James Knight, is untrue.”

A spokesperson from the campaign group Justice for Women, which supported Magson’s application for a retrial, said: “This case illustrates many of the issues highlighted in our report on women who kill about a public lack of understanding of the dynamics of abusive relationships and the way in which women in abusive relationships tend to be perceived in the criminal justice system.”

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