Woman Guilty Of Killing Sister

Phoebe Barton knifed her sister 27 times in the village of Chartham where they both lived.

The 50-year-old had denied murdering her sister Karen, 52, who was found dead on 9 May this year in a field near the Highland Road home they shared.

Following a two week trial at Maidstone Crown Court she was found guilty of murder after earlier admitting manslaughter. Phoebe Barton is due to be sentenced tomorrow (14 December 2010).

Karen’s body was found by a couple taking their new puppy for a late night walk. The following morning police enquiries established that the body could one of the Barton sisters who were well known in the village and had been seen together the previous evening.

Police investigations soon established the dead woman was probably Karen and a trail of blood leading from a footpath near the scene to the sisters’ home sparked a massive search for Phoebe.

Distraught following the death of her only daughter Rachel, in a road crash in May 2009, officers were unsure whether Phoebe was alive or had perhaps taken her own life. A number of helicopter searches were made of the nearby rural, wooded area.

A passing police patrol spotted Phoebe walking at the side of a road in nearby Chilham.  The officers had been told to look out for Phoebe and were suspicious of the dishevelled woman they came across and stopped to ask her name. She said that she was Phoebe and had spent the last five days travelling to Essex on the train and had walked back from Dartford.

Family members told the court that Karen was the quiet, gentle sister and Phoebe was controlling with a fiery temper. She could not come to terms with her daughter’s death and her behaviour had become more and more eccentric.

Karen’s death was investigated by detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate. They were led by Det Insp Dave Withers who said: “This is a tragic case. Phoebe – distraught at the death of her only child – went on to wreck the lives of those close to her, leaving her sister’s daughter without a mother.

“Our thoughts can only be with the Barton family at this time. Several members have travelled to Maidstone to give evidence about the deteriorating relationship between the two sisters.

“We faced a huge task looking for Phoebe in a rural area that she had known all her life. I would like to thank all those officers who took part in that search and also the members of the public who helped our enquiry.”