The teenagers branded ‘evil’

Cynon Valley - - FRONT PAGE - MAR­CUS HUGHES mar­­

THE mur­der of pen­sioner Edna Phillips, above, af­ter months of tor­ment shocked south Wales – even more so when it be­came clear her killers were two 17-year-old girls.

EDNA Phillips had en­dured months of tor­ment, liv­ing an iso­lated life on the Peny­waun coun­cil es­tate near Aber­dare.

The 70-year-old had made com­plaints about loud mu­sic and drunk­en­ness com­ing from the fam­ily next door – the Ros­sis – and re­ported their teenage daugh­ter to the po­lice.

Af­ter this, 17-year-old Maria Rossi be­gan a cam­paign of hate against the pen­sioner, dump­ing rub­bish in her gar­den, throw­ing stones at her, and smear­ing fae­ces on her walls.

The abuse had got­ten so bad Edna – who lived alone but for her dog Chum – had asked her lo­cal coun­cil to re­house her, and even wrote to her MP af­ter Maria bur­gled her house.

But in July 1992 Edna Phillips was dis­cov­ered bru­tally mur­dered at her home. She had been stran­gled, stabbed, slashed mul­ti­ple times in the face, and bro­ken eggs were left strewn over the body.

It was even­tu­ally re­vealed the cul­prits of this act of ex­treme vi­o­lence were Maria Rossi, and an­other 17-year-old, her friend Christina Mol­loy.

They looked for all the world like a typ­i­cal pair of teenage girls.

Rossi had dreams of be­com­ing a fash­ion model and leav­ing the south Wales val­leys where she grew up.

The fam­ily had moved next door to Edna Phillips when she was a tod­dler.

When the case even­tu­ally came to court, it was re­vealed that Edna even used to take Rossi on walks when she was a tod­dler. But over the years the Ros­sis came to de­spise Edna af­ter she made com­plaints about drunken par­ties and loud mu­sic com­ing from their house.

Edna even re­ported that Rossi had bur­gled her house on one oc­ca­sion in 1992.

In des­per­a­tion, she wrote to her lo­cal MP Ann Cl­wyd, whose in­ter­ven­tion did lead to some ac­tion by South Wales Po­lice in Merthyr Tyd­fil.

On June 30, In­spec­tor Keri Humphreys, deputy di­vi­sional com­man­der, wrote to Ms Cl­wyd to ad­vise her of what ac­tion po­lice had taken.

“All mat­ters raised within the let­ter have now been sat­is­fac­to­rily ad­dressed,” she wrote.

A visit from vic­tim sup­port had been ar­ranged and In­spec­tor Humphreys said: “I fur­ther un­der­stand that she feels more se­cure with the re­cent in­stal­la­tion of a bur­glar alarm”.

When the case even­tu­ally went to Cardiff Crown Court it emerged that on 16 July 1992, Maria Rossi and Christina Mol­loy were un­der the in­flu­ence of cider and drugs.

The pair saw Edna Phillips, who was par­tiallysighted, call­ing for her dog Chum to come in.

They frog­marched her into the house, where they used a dog chain to stran­gle the 70-year-old.

Edna’s face was slashed in a criss-cross pat­tern at least 35 times with a Stan­ley knife and she was stabbed mul­ti­ple times with a pair of scis­sors.

Her body was stamped on, break­ing five ribs and her nose, and the two killers tried to scalp her.

Ac­cord­ing to an As­so­ci­ated Press re­port at the time, Rossi and Mol­loy stole the £57.15 pen­sion money Edna had col­lected that day.

The next morn­ing, Rossi was re­ported to have been heard singing “we have killed Edna Phillips” to the tune of “The Wiz­ard of Oz”.

When the girls were even­tu­ally charged with the crime, a 300-strong crowd of lo­cal peo­ple stormed the homes of both fam­i­lies.

The well-es­tab­lished Ros­sis and the Mol­loys, who had re­cently moved to the es­tate, were driven from the area and placed at new se­cret ad­dresses for their own pro­tec­tion.

South Wales Po­lice

posted of­fi­cers on the street to deal with the un­rest and pro­tect the homes of fam­ily mem­bers from at­tacks.

Rossi and Mol­loy ap­peared for sen­tenc­ing at Cardiff Crown Court on 8 March 1993, af­ter plead­ing guilty to mur­der.

Rep­re­sent­ing the prose­cu­tion, John Rees QC told the court that the teenagers “lit­er­ally butchered” Edna Phillips on that warm evening in July.

Sen­tenc­ing, Judge Scott Baker branded the pair “evil prod­ucts of the mod­ern age”.

“No-one can be other than sick­ened at hear­ing the cir­cum­stances in which you mu­ti­lated and killed a de­fence­less old lady who had caused no harm to any­one,” Judge Baker said.

“If, as young­sters, some dis­ci­pline had been im­posed upon you at home, at school, or through the courts, you might not now be stand­ing in the dock.”

Judge Baker sen­tenced both to life im­pris­on­ment with a min­i­mum term of 15 years.

The sen­tenc­ing of the two young women came just three weeks af­ter the start of the mur­der trial of 10-year-olds Robert Thomp­son and Jon Ven­ables for the mur­der of twoyear-old James Bulger.

The tim­ing con­trib­uted to a moral panic con­cern­ing young killers in the UK which be­came a dom­i­nant sub­ject of dis­cus­sion in the na­tional news­pa­pers.

About 10 years later, the case be­gan mak­ing head­lines again fol­low­ing an Ap­peal Court rul­ing that the sen­tences of child mur­der­ers should be pe­ri­od­i­cally re­viewed.

Se­nior judges de­cided that the UK’s obli­ga­tions un­der the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Rights of the Child, im­pris­on­ing chil­dren must only be “a mea­sure of last re­sort”.

Many were con­cerned that Rossi and Mol­loy may be re­leased ear­lier than first thought.

In May 2017, it emerged that Mol­loy, who is be­lieved to have changed her name fol­low­ing her re­lease from prison, had been found dead at a prop­erty in Cam­bridgeshire.

The death was not treated as sus­pi­cious.

Christina Mol­loy and Maria Rossi

Edna Phillips

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