Woman stabbed neighbour to death then claimed she’d been raped as she lay dying

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A woman who stabbed her neighbour to death before taking her top off and screaming that she'd been raped has been jailed for life.

Kerry Taylor, 41, was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 18 years for the murder of Pearl Simone Hancock in her Sheffield flat last summer.

Jurors reached a unanimous guilty verdict on Friday after deliberating for three hours and 18 minutes following an eight-day trial at Sheffield Crown Court, Yorkshire Live reports.

Ms Hancock, 55, was stabbed from behind with a large knife more than 10 times on July 4, 2020.

Prosecutor Robert Woodcock QC said she was attacked with such force part of a bone in her arm was detached, her lung was punctured and she lost more than a litre of blood.

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While Ms Hancock pleaded with neighbours to help her, Taylor ran around the nearby area topless and bloodied, claiming she had been raped.

In her police statement, Taylor claimed she and Ms Hancock had been in a relationship but it had become strained, and the pair had met to discuss their future when a disagreement over drugs took place.

Yasmin Gregory, Ms Hancock's sister, told the jury she had only known of male partners including an ex-husband.

"Simone said she helped Kerry move in and she just became a scrounger," she said.

"I never saw them together and I never met Kerry."

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The starting point for the sentencing was set at 15 years rather than 25 because the prosecution did not say that Taylor brought the knife to the scene.

Jason Pitter QC, mitigating, said his client was intoxicated and the stabbing must have happened in a matter of seconds.

Taylor's previous convictions, including for possession of an offensive weapon in a public place, assault and prostitution, aggravated the offence. In 2004, she had been locked up for three years and nine months for kidnap and robbery.

Judge Peter Kelson QC said there were other factors aggravating the offence, such as Taylor causing another person to be a suspect in the case, her use of racist language towards the victim after her arrest, the use of a weapon and the "sustained and ferocious" nature of the attack.

While accusing the victim of rape Taylor had been heard to say, among other things: "How long did it take her to die? I hope she suffered, dirty black c***."

The judge said he did not accept that the victim came at Taylor with a knife before the stabbing as she had alleged and said he did not know what triggered it.

Taylor will have to serve the full 18-year minimum term minus the time she has already spent on remand in custody, which is thought to be 199 days.

Ms Hancock's family said in a statement: "The tragic and senseless murder of Simone, our daughter, mum, grandma, sister and auntie has had a devastating impact on us all as a family.

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"Our mum will never recover from the loss of her beloved daughter and her death has had a massive impact on her already deteriorating health.

"No one deserves to be taken in this way and we feel we could have accepted it a little better if she had not been so cruelly taken from us at such a young age. No parent should have to plan their child's funeral following their murder."

They thanked South Yorkshire Police for how they handled the case and added: "Rest in eternal peace Simone, we love you x".

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Palmer, the senior investigating officer in the case, offered his condolences to Ms Hancock's family.

"Taylor refused to accept responsibility for her crimes and therefore Simone's family has had to hear traumatic and upsetting details about their loved one's final moments," he said.

"Such was the weight of evidence placed before the court, the jury have convicted Taylor of murder and she is now starting a life sentence.

"I would also like to commend the work of the investigative team on this case, who have worked relentlessly to gather all available information and seek justice for Simone's family."

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