Woman jailed for a second time for knife murder of her partner following retrial

Richard Vernalls, PA
·4-min read

A woman who stabbed her partner to death with a steak knife will serve a minimum of 17 years in prison after being convicted of his murder for a second time, following a retrial.

Emma-Jayne Magson, 28, of Sylvan Street, Leicester, killed 26-year-old James Knight with a single stab wound to the heart in March 2016 after a drunken row.

She denied murdering Mr Knight at her first trial claiming it was self-defence, but was convicted of the killing at Leicester Crown Court at the end of 2016.

Emma-Jayne Magson court case
James Knight (Leicestershire Police/PA)

Magson was jailed for life with a minimum term of 17 years.

However, in January 2020, the Court of Appeal ordered a retrial after hearing new psychiatric evidence showing the defence of diminished responsibility would have been available to Magson at her first trial.

Her second trial took place at Birmingham Crown Court where a jury again found her guilty of Mr Knight’s murder, by majority verdict, on March 5.

Mr Justice Jeremy Baker, sentencing on Monday, told Magson her prison term would run from the date of the end of the original trial.

He added that for legal reasons he could not impose a greater minimum term than the 17-year tariff previously handed to her.

But the judge said: “Had it not been for the statutory limitation on the court’s powers, the minimum term would have been in excess of that previously imposed upon you.”

He added: “I regret I am unconvinced you have, as yet, any real remorse for having caused James Knight’s death.”

Her trial heard how Magson and Mr Knight had been out in Leicester city centre at about midnight, and took a taxi home in the early hours of March 27 2016.

Jurors were told the pair then began arguing and the cab driver asked them to get out of the vehicle.

CCTV footage showed what the judge referred to as evidence of the couple’s “volatile relationship”, when Mr Knight pushed Magson causing her to fall.

At her home, later, he was heard banging on her front door after they arrived back there.

The judge said: “I am sure that until the week of his death he had not shown any physical violence towards you.

“On the contrary, I am sure such physical acts of violence which had taken place during your relationship were ones for which you were responsible, including striking him with a hoover pipe, and stabbing him in the chest with an item of cutlery.”

Jurors had heard Magson’s previous convictions for violence against others, were aggravating factors in this case.

The judge said that these had involved “punching a girl outside a nightclub in 2011” and then in separate incidents, the following year, Magson had “punched and kicked a girl, and put a glass into another girl’s face”.

Magson claimed at her retrial she “hit out” at Mr Knight in the kitchen when he grabbed her by the throat, after she inadvertently picked up a knife from the sink.

Neighbours were woken by an argument with one hearing the victim say “my heart is bleeding” – and noticed blood on his clothing.

After Mr Knight fell to the ground, the court heard, Magson delayed getting help, hiding the knife in a neighbour’s bin, taking his blood-stained t-shirt indoors, changing her clothes and then “calmly” calling 999.

She lied on the phone to the emergency call handler about the gravity of Mr Knight’s injuries, telling them “not to worry” when they said an ambulance may take a while because it was a busy Bank Holiday weekend.

When the victim’s brother came to see what was wrong, she “deceived” him, telling how his sibling had been “beaten up by bouncers”, the judge added.

“A continuation of the false account which I am satisfied, was intended to seek to exculpate you for responsibly of his murder,” said Mr Justice Baker.

The judge said while the “precise circumstances” of how Mr Knight came to stabbed “may never fully be known”, the jury had “rejected the suggestion this occurred in self defence”.

Mr Justice Baker added: “I am sure the account which you provided to the police, being strangled by James Knight, is untrue.”

He added: “I am sure that without any justification, you made a conscience decision to fetch a steak knife from the kitchen and used it to inflict a fatal wound to James Knight’s chest, penetrating his body to a depth of 11.5cm as it passed through one of his lungs and his pulmonary artery.”

Magson’s application for a retrial was supported by campaign group Justice for Women.