A woman who stabbed her abusive dad to death put her head in her hands and wept as jurors unanimously found her not guilty of murder and manslaughter.
Jessica Breeze and her mum Kelly Breeze suffered years of physical and mental abuse from Colin Brady before she stabbed him in the back.
The then 19-year-old had been punched and slapped by her dad who then grabbed a knife and slashed at his own arm before she stabbed him with such force it “passed from his back through his entire left lung and into his chest” as he walked away from Jessica, prosecutors said.
Jessica Breeze, now 20, was found not guilty of murder and manslaughter after a two-week trial at Teesside Crown Court.
She began to cry as the verdicts were read out, leaving the courtroom sobbing and being comforted by loved ones before telling reporters of her “horrible” seven month ordeal, Teesside Live reports.
Asked for her response to the verdict, she replied “I’m just happy it’s over”.
Jessica had admitted stabbing her 49-year-old dad at their home in Grove Hill, Middlesbrough, on June 20 last year but said she had acted in self defence.
The jurors heard harrowing evidence of the abuse Jessica and her mum suffered at the hands of Brady and took about five hours to clear her of murder and the alternative charge of manslaughter today.
Asked how the last seven months have been following her arrest she said: “Horrible. Horrible.”
Jessica, of Central Mews, central Middlesbrough, said the support of her family and friends had helped her through the ordeal.
Asked how she now feels, she added: “I don’t know. Shocked. I don’t know.”
On the night of the killing, Mr Brady was said to have attacked both Jessica and her mum, raining down punches on Jessica as she sat on the sofa.
Jessica testified to say “it was like something was inside” her father and “he just kept saying he was going to kill us. He didn’t care about us, if he killed us he wouldn’t care”.
She described trying to climb out of a bedroom window, at which point Mr Brady is said to have strangled her on the bed, “I can remember not being able to breathe”, she said.
The doors were locked and Jessica said her dad had taken her phone from her.
She ultimately stabbed him but claimed she couldn’t recall doing so before frantically dialling 999.
She told jurors during the trial: “I didn’t want him to die.
“He was still my dad, I still love him, I didn’t want him to die, I just wanted him to stop.”
Lawyer Sean Grainger gave a statement on behalf of Jessica outside court following the verdict.
He said: “Today by a unanimous jury Jessica Breeze was found not guilty of the murder of her father on the 20th of June, 2019.
“The jury accepted she was acting in lawful self defence, of herself and her mother, when under a sustained and violent attack.
“Further, while Jessica was brought up in a toxic home environment, where she and her mother were subjected to physical and emotional abuse by her father, Jessica wishes to make it clear she loved her father, she still does and wishes he was still here.
“She now wishes to rebuild her life, get back to work and move on from the seven-month ordeal she has endured since her arrest.”
Speaking to the jury after the verdict Judge Ashurst told them: “As you will have gathered, those in the public gallery represented both sides of this family.
“The receiving of verdicts in criminal cases, particularly where there’s been loss of life, can be a tense experience for all concerned.
“Thank you very much for your very careful attention to the trial.
“These decisions that juries have to make in cases of this type are never easy.”
He said he believed such decisions, particularly in dealing with issues from domestic situations, are “far better done by 12 members of the public picked at random than by judges who may become a little case-hardened over the years”.
The Crown Prosecution Service defended its decision to bring charges against Jessica, describing the murder charge as “wholly appropriate”.
A CPS Spokesperson said: “While there was evidence of a sometimes violent relationship between the victim, Colin Brady, and the defendant, Jessica Breeze, the circumstances of his death made a charge of murder wholly appropriate in this case.
“It is not the function of the CPS to decide whether a person is guilty of a criminal offence, but to make fair, independent and objective assessments about whether it is appropriate to present charges for the criminal court to consider.
“Regardless of the alleged provocation for the attack, the victim was attacked in the back as he walked away from the defendant. He was stabbed with such force that it passed from his back through his entire left lung and into his chest.
“Despite claims of self-defence by the defendant, the evidence was such that there was a case to answer.”