Early on the morning of March 27, 2016, Emma-Jayne Magson plunged a steak knife into the heart of her lover James Knight, told his brother and two other people he had simply fallen over due to taking recreational drugs, then sat and watched him die as she told the emergency services not to hurry.
Magson was arrested shortly, stood trial later that same year at Leicester Crown Court, and was convicted. She was given the mandatory life sentence with a seventeen year tariff, and that should have been the end of the matter, but for some people, women have no agency for their bad acts. The Centre For Women’s Justice/Justice For Women stepped in, and somehow managed to win an appeal. Unlike the recent case of Sally Challen, who put a hammer in her handbag then bashed in her estranged husband’s head with it, the Court Of Appeal ordered a retrial, suppressing all media coverage until after the verdict. In March 2021, Magson was convicted for a second time, albeit only by a majority verdict and after thirteen hours of deliberation.
According to the Centre For Women’s Justice, this verdict “FLIES IN THE FACE OF THE EVIDENCE”.
Magson’s appeal was argued by Clare Wade QC. The day after it was granted, the website of her chambers reported that Magson’s “emotionally unstable personality disorder” had substantially impaired her ability to exercise self-control and that steps should have been taken to ensure her effective participation in her trial.
The Lord Lords found she had an arguable case to call fresh evidence going to “Emma-Jane’s Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder and the fact that she suffers from a neuro-developmental disorder which had not been diagnosed at the time of her trial.”
One person who disagrees strongly with this diagnosis and sophistry is the victim’s mother Patricia, who like any jurist of reason might wonder what planet Magson and her supporters are living on.
Emotionally unstable personality disorder isn’t any kind of mental affliction, and is certainly not a cop out for murder; it is simply a description of behaviour. As for her being unable to effectively participate in her trial, Magson chose not to take the stand, undoubtedly on legal advice, because her defence would have been wrecked by cross-examination. Before returning to the trials, a bit of background about James Knight and Emma-Jayne Magson.
According to his mother, Magson’s mother used to live next door but two. James asked her for her phone number “for a mate”, and she asked him out. They had been living together about six months at the time of the murder, and their relationship had been volatile rather than abusive.
James Knight came from a big family; he had five siblings, and was the youngest but one of four brothers and two sisters. Although he was no angel, James had no convictions for violence; he did have a drug problem though, apparently starting with cannabis and progressing to cocaine. His mother said although he would stand his ground with anyone, he was the life and soul of the party, had a large circle of friends, and was everybody’s best friend.
He also had two young daughters – Ruby and Evie – who were four and six at the time of the first trial. He had been with their mother for nine years, that is since they were teenagers. She had ended their relationship due to his drug abuse, but on Magson’s conviction, a victim impact statement read out on behalf of Becki Waite described James as “a real family man”.
It has been reported that James was a bodybuilder. He wasn’t, but he was a refuse collector, a physical job that builds muscle. He also worked out, said his mother, in fact he went to the gym with Magson’s stepfather.
At the first trial, the judge refused to allow bad character evidence against Magson, but she chose to testify at the retrial, so it was allowed to counter smears against the victim. As the American judge Belvin Perry said, you can’t take a shield and use it as a sword.
To Part 2.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.