JURORS have returned a 'guilty of murder' verdict after the three week trial of a 24-year-old woman from Cheadle. Charlene Sargeant, of Sun Street, was convicted of murdering her mother, Rocky, 53, at Stafford Crown Court on Friday, October 5. Sargeant had entered a 'not guilty' plea at a hearing in June and defence barristers outlined her 'chaotic and abusive' childhood to the court, saying she had “lost all control.”
Police, doctors, psychiatrists and social services were among those to present evidence during the case.
A chronology was read out which included an outline of Rocky’s mental health history, a long list of calls to the police over incidents at Sun Street, along with educational reports concerning Charlene.
The court heard that, on the morning of Friday, March 16 this year, Sargeant stabbed her mother 18 times – 14 of which were to the neck and head – after an argument about money in the kitchen of their home in Sun Street.
Prosecution barrister Sally Howes QC told the court: “The row had been about money – about a Littlewood’s Catalogue debt which had got out of control.
“It was a case of a loss of temper – pure and simple.”
Ms Howes also explained that Sargeant cleaned blood off the kitchen floor and placed the murder weapon in Rocky’s hand before the emergency services arrived.
Sargeant initially told police and ambulance staff that her mother’s wounds were self-inflicted.
After her arrest, she said that she’d been ‘driven to it.’
In summarising the defence case on Thursday, October 4, barrister Charles Miskin QC, said that Charlene was a “remarkably damaged young woman” due to years of abuse from her mother and that she had been socially isolated as “Rocky effectively shackled Charlene to the house.”
He added: “Rocky Sargeant had been diagnosed with sociopathic disorder and had an explosive edge.
“She was capable of, and didn’t care that, she abused Charlene emotionally, physically and sexually.”
Mr Miskin said of the morning of March 16: “We agree that changing her story does not help Charlene’s case but she has now told the truth.”
He further spoke about the “chaotic and abusive nature” of Charlene’s childhood and added: “She had cared for her mother all her life and she had saved her from herself on many occasions.
“This had been a titanic explosion.
“Charlene picked up a knife as she felt threatened. She lost all control.
“She said that she was driven to it. She was highly emotional and she was unable to think.”
Mr Miskin also reminded the jury that Charlene has been diagnosed as having Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Post Traumatic Disorder and Mild Intellectual Disability.
Judge Michael Chambers QC next guided the jury through a summary of the evidence which had been presented to the court before outlining a ‘route to verdict’ where they needed to decide whether they found Sargeant ‘not guilty of murder’, ‘guilty of murder’, or ‘not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.’
The jury retired on Friday morning and came back into court later on in the day to deliver their verdict of ‘guilty of murder’.
Sargeant will be sentenced at Stafford Crown Court on October 26.
Detective Inspector Victoria Downing, of Staffordshire Police’s Major and Organised Crime Department, said: “This has clearly been a distressing case for the family of Rocky, as well as the wider community in Cheadle.
“Sadly, nothing will change what happened that day. We are grateful for the support from the community in bringing this case before the court.”
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