Murder accused denies stabbing partner in neck with pair of scissors

Police at the home of Joanne Harrison
Police at the home of Joanne Harrison

A YOUNG Wigan mum was fatally stabbed in the neck with a pair of scissors by her partner, a murder trial jury was told.

Joanne Harrison suffered catastrophic blood loss and despite medics fighting to save her the 20-year-old was declared dead later the same day.

Her partner Christopher Foley claims she had tripped while holding the scissors on her way to tend to their crying child and her death had been an unfortunate accident, said Christopher Tehrani, QC, prosecuting.

But that is not accepted by the Crown and 23-year-old Foley is on trial at Liverpool Crown Court denying murder and a lesser alternative charge of manslaughter.

Mr Tehrani told the jury that the relationship between the victim and Foley, who had been together for two years, had not been smooth and he would be violent.

He said: “Most of the violence was started and finished by Christopher Foley.”

Shortly before 1.50pm on Sunday February 1 this year Foley rang the ambulance service and said his partner had hit her head on a radiator.

When a paramedic arrived at their home in Cameron Place, Worsley Hall, he found Foley distressed and anxious and saw the victim lying on the ground unconscious with two stab wounds to her neck.

“Foley was holding a pair of scissors in one of his hands and his hands were covered in blood and the scissors had blood on them, Joanne Harrison’s blood.

“The paramedic told him to put the scissors on the sofa and he called the police. By the time the police arrived the scissors were on the floor.”

Miss Harrison was taken to Wigan Infirmary but doctors were unable to resuscitate her and she was pronounced dead later that afternoon.

Mr Tehrani told the jurors that the 999 call would be played to them during the trial. “You may find listening to the recording distressing as you can hear Joanne Harrison in the background who at one stage was saying, ‘I’m going to die’.

“You can hear her breathing becomes more and more laboured and she is distressed.”

He said that when asked what had happened Foley said that he was going to see to their crying child upstairs and but Joanne said she would go but she fell over a toy.

“She’s tripped and fell and hit the radiator but had scissors in her hand.” He said she was half in, half out, the child’s ball pit and was told to lie her on the ground.

A neighbour, Colin Catchpole, who went in the house, along with another neighbour and the paramedic, found Foley holding his head in his hands and he started saying to her: “Don’t leave me, we have a son.”

He told Mr Catchpole: “It’s Jo, she’s not moving. I think I have killed her,” alleged Mr Tehrani.

When the police arrived Foley told them that he did not know what had happened, she had fallen over and he saw blood coming from her neck but did not know how the scissors got into it.

A post mortem examination revealed she had 36 injuries, some fresh and some not so new.

She had suffered two stab wounds, the upper one penetrating the apex of her right chest, grazing her lung and damaged her third rib. The lower wound had penetrated the central chest compartment though only penetrated the layer of fat.

The pathologist concluded “the force required to cause the stab wounds must have been severe,” said Mr Tehrani.

They could have been inflicted in a single motion or two separate blows with each blade of the scissors.

Two days before her death she sent a photograph via her phone to her family showing a black eye she had suffered.

When asked about this after his arrest for the murder Foley claimed it had happened accidentally when he threw a can of talc which struck her.

But Mr Tehrani said the doctor concluded the injury was not consistent with that explanation. After her death an undated note written by Ms Harrison in crayon was found addressed to her partner in which she wrote “I have come to the conclusion that me and you just aren’t meant to be.”