Page last updated at 11:42 GMT, Tuesday, 22 September 2009 12:42 UK

Killer mother jailed for 33 years

Davina and Jasmine
Davina and Jasmine were killed with a kitchen knife

A mother who murdered her two daughters as they slept has been jailed for life and must serve a minimum of 33 years.

Rekha Kumari-Baker, 41, stabbed 16-year-old Davina 37 times and 13-year-old Jasmine 29 times at their home in Stretham, Cambridgeshire.

Her ex-husband said the killings were "an act of calculated viciousness".

The 33-year minimum sentence handed down at Cambridge Crown Court is one of the longest jail terms given to a woman in the UK in modern times.

David Baker, Kumari-Baker's ex-husband, said he had been "robbed" of his daughters.

'Mystery motive'

Kumari-Baker admitted killing the girls in June 2007 but denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

However the jury did not believe her and took just 35 minutes to find her guilty of murder.

Cambridgeshire Police's Jim McCrorie: "All of those involved have had an emotional connection with this case"

Sentencing her, Mr Justice Bean said the Parole Board would not consider her for release until 2040, when she will be 72.

He said she had been found guilty of two brutal murders on the basis of "clear and compelling evidence".

"Most people will find it inexplicable that a mother could kill her own children and you have given no explanation for it," he said.

He said she was "certainly upset" at the breakdown of her relationship with boyfriend Jeff Powell.

He added: "I think mild depression was probably combined with a wish to retaliate against David Baker and destroy the happiness in his life but to some extent your motive remains a mystery.

"Your defence of diminished responsibility was flimsy and unsubstantial. You knew quite well what you were doing and you were not mentally ill."

Rose West, Beverley Allitt and Myra Hindley
Rekha Kumari-Baker's 33-year minimum sentence - or 'tariff' - is among the longest handed by a UK court to a woman in modern times. Others include:
Rose West: Sentenced in 1995 for killing 10 young women and girls over 20 years - 'whole life' tariff
Beverley Allitt: Nurse who killed four children in 1991 - given minimum 30-year tariff
Myra Hindley: Moors murderer jailed for life in 1966. Minimum term increased by home secretaries during her time in jail to 'whole life'. Died 2002

The judge considered whether Kumari-Baker should ever be considered for release but concluded that the premeditation was significant but not substantial so a "whole life order" was not warranted.

In a victim impact statement read to the court by prosecutor John Farmer after Kumari-Baker was convicted, Mr Baker told of the "incalculable" loss he had suffered.

"Having them taken away from me in such a brutal way and by the woman who was their mother... has had an incalculable effect," Mr Baker said in his statement.

"I am haunted by the horror of the events of that night and probably will remain so for a very long time."

His statement continued: "She tore them from us all and life can't be the same for those who remain."

Prosecutors had said Kumari-Baker was trying to "wreak havoc" on her ex-husband.

Asda knives

During the two-week trial, jurors heard that she attacked the girls in the early hours of 13 June.

The court heard evidence showed that Davina - whose body was found kneeling on the floor - had struggled. Jasmine was found dead in bed.

The prosecution said Kumari-Baker bought the knives she used to attack the girls at an Asda supermarket two days earlier.

She argued that she had been suffering from a mental disorder and mounted a "diminished responsibility defence".

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