IM this article to a friend!

November 27, 2002

Mum jailed for killing rapist

From: Edinburgh Evening News, UK - 27 Nov 2002


A DEAF mum who killed her childhood sweetheart after he raped her was jailed for two years today.

Violent Paul Mitchell, 36, died from a single knife wound to the chest while taunting Julie Hartley in the kitchen of her flat in Leith, Edinburgh, a court heard.

Sending Hartley, 34, to prison, judge Lady Cosgrove said she was taking into account her severe disability and Mr Mitchell’s behaviour.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard Mr Mitchell was Hartley’s first boyfriend and the father of her 11-year-old daughter. But their on-off relationship had included a number of violent incidents, some witnessed by the little girl.

Hartley had faced trial accused of murdering Mr Mitchell in her flat in Linksview House, Leith, early on April 19. But at an earlier hearing her guilty plea to a reduced charge of culpable homicide was accepted.

The court heard then how frantic Hartley - who was born profoundly deaf and can only communicate by sign language - knocked on a neighbour’s door and made gestures indicating someone had been stabbed.

The neighbour found Mr Mitchell, formerly of Roxburgh Street, Edinburgh, half naked on the flat’s floor.

He had no clothes on the upper part of his body and his trousers were undone, said advocate depute James Peoples QC, prosecuting.

Hartley said Mr Mitchell had forced her to have sex and had half-choked her.

Today, defence advocate Ruth Anderson QC said the couple had been drinking in pubs and arguing. Hartley got ready for bed and remembered gesticulating to him to shut up.

Ms Anderson said Mr Mitchell put his hands around Hartley’s throat and - referring to a previous girlfriend who had committed suicide - told her she would be next. "She was pulled on to a bed, a pillow put over her face, her shorts were pulled off. He then raped her."

Mr Mitchell then went into the kitchen, followed by Hartley. "In the kitchen, Paul Mitchell apparently lifted up a knife, pointing the blade towards himself, goading and provoking her. She grabbed the knife and stabbed him, once, in the chest. When she realised what she had done she dropped the knife and ran out of the house for help."

Mr Peoples had told the court: "There are only two people who could shed light on the circumstances leading up to the fatal stabbing. One of them is the deceased and the other in Hartley." But he said neighbours heard a disturbance and a man shouting: "I’m sorry."

Lady Cosgrove told Hartley: "I have taken into account all that has been said on your behalf including your very unfortunate background and your relationship with the deceased." Hartley could be free by April next year taking into account time on remand.

The court heard that Hartley was expelled from a special school for the deaf when she was 14. She met Mr Mitchell soon afterwards and they set up home together when she was 16.

She survived an operation for cancer in 1999. She also has a drug problem and a record, mostly for shop-lifting.

Her first child died as a result of cot death syndrome.