Father has no memory of stabbing eight-year-old daughter, court told

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A man accused of murdering his eight-year-old daughter by plunging a kitchen knife into her chest claims to have no memory of the alleged stabbing, a jury has heard.

William Billingham attacked “trusting and defenceless” Mylee Billingham at his home moments after threatening to kill her mother, Tracey Taundry, Birmingham Crown Court was told.

Opening the case against Billingham, prosecutor Karim Khalil QC said the 55-year-old was struggling to cope with his ex-partner Miss Taundry’s decision to start a relationship with another woman.

Giving an overview of the case, the Crown’s counsel said the jury members were likely to have to consider Billingham’s mental state when Mylee was fatally injured at his home in Valley View, Brownhills, near Walsall.

Tracey Taundry at the funeral of her eight-year-old daughter
Tracey Taundry at the funeral of her eight-year-old daughter (Aaron Chown/PA)

“Whilst at the front door the defendant threatened to kill Tracey with the same knife and she had run off a short distance.

“The defendant did provide an account in interview of the time leading up to these terrible events, but he claimed to have no memory of the events themselves.

“He has therefore provided little by way of explanation for what he did.”

Explaining that Billingham met Miss Taundry when she was 19 and he was 40, Mr Khalil added: “He has had three particular partners with whom he has had six children.

“We say that, whether he has genuinely blanked out the events from his memory, or whether he is choosing to refuse to say what he can remember, he is guilty of threatening to kill his former partner and guilty of murdering his daughter.

“Whether or not he can remember the events does not affect his responsibility for them.”

Mr Khalil added that psychiatric evidence would be heard during the trial, with jurors asked to focus on whether the killing on January 20 was “properly to be described as murder or as manslaughter”.

Outlining elements of the relationship between Billingham and Miss Taundry, Mr Khalil said it had initially caused tensions between her and his older children.

At one point in 2010, Miss Taundry called police alleging that he had struck her and thrown things around their flat, but she chose not pursue charges, the court heard.

The strained relationship “was not helped by Tracey texting and flirting with another man” and Billingham is alleged to have taken her phone in anger.

Mr Khalil continued: “Recently it became clear that he had in fact kept the phone, because just a few weeks before the killing he sent Tracey a photo of the phone with the SIM card cut up next to it alongside a pair of pliers.”

Billingham eventually moved out into a flat – with Miss Taundry describing them as initially remaining “friends with benefits” – and later went to live in a bungalow at Valley View after being signed off work with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Miss Taundry’s bisexuality had often been a cause for light-hearted banter between her and Billingham, the court heard, and she met a woman who became her regular partner late last year.

Mr Khalil told the jury of eight women and four men: “The fact that this was not simply a one-off event, but seemed to be getting more serious, was something that the defendant seemed to be struggling to deal with.

“We say his actions were plainly hostile to this new situation.”

On Thursday January 18, two days before Mylee was stabbed, she was asked by Billingham if she wanted to go to his house the following day for tea and to stay over.

Mr Khalil said of the primary school pupil: “She was excited at this prospect and it was agreed the defendant would collect her from the after-school club the following day.”

The prosecution’s opening address is due to continue on Wednesday.

Billingham denies murder and making a threat to kill.

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