My sister the psychotic killer: Tom's sister knifed their mother to death and six years later butchered a stranger. Now he reveals: I was on her death list, too

Nicola when she was 12 years old. She was already displaying aggressive tendencies towards her younger siblings and parents

One childhood memory stands out in Tom Edgington’s mind. He’s four years old and lying, scratched and bleeding, in a rose bush in the garden. His six-year-old sister Nicola has violently pushed him into the thorns.

As their father Harry hurries over to rescue him, she says blankly: ‘It’s gone.’ As a child, Nicola never used Tom’s name. She called him ‘It’ and this was not the first time she had wanted rid of him.

When he was two, Nicola wheeled her brother in his pushchair towards the cellar steps of their North London home.

Their father stopped Nicola just before she pushed Tom down the flight of stairs. ‘Everyone thought that it was just normal sibling rivalry and that she’d grow out of it, but Nicola never did, she just grew worse,’ says Tom.

‘For as long as I can remember, there was something not quite right about Nicola. She had no empathy with others at all.’

Today, 30-year-old Tom has nothing to do with his older sister. Not since the night on November 11, 2005, when she killed their ‘loving, caring’ mother Marion, 60, stabbing her nine times in a psychotic rage, leaving the knife embedded in her body.

It was Tom, then 23, who found his mother lying in the study next to the kitchen of her East Sussex cottage when he returned home with his younger sister Sara from an evening in the pub. Sick with shock, he knew instinctively that Nicola was responsible.

For years he had witnessed his older sister’s inexplicable, terrifying fury and the black eyes she had given their mother — whose love for her remained unconditional.

Nicola had left behind a notebook on the kitchen counter which had a list of names under the heading: ‘Condemned People.’

A family photo with (L-R) Mum Marion (45), Tom (8) baby sister (5) Nicola (10) on Holiday in Israel 1990

‘My mum’s name was at the top and it had been crossed out,’ says Tom. ‘It was sobering to see my name also on the list. Perhaps she intended to kill me too.’

When Nicola Edgington was arrested on a London bus, after 16 days on the run, her first words were: ‘Tom did it.’

‘It wasn’t enough for Nicola to leave Mum’s body for me to find,’ says Tom. ‘She then tried to blame me for her death.’

Diagnosed with schizophrenia after her arrest, Nicola was sent to a secure psychiatric hospital ‘indefinitely’ after admitting manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. 

Nicola killed complete stranger Sally Hodkin in the street with a meat cleaver she stole from a butchers

At the time, Tom and his younger sister said in a statement: ‘Finally Nicola is where she should be so she cannot hurt anyone else and she can get the help she desperately needs.’

Instead, Tom’s disturbed sister was released from her secure unit after barely three years, leaving her free to kill again.

Earlier this month, Nicola, 32, was given a double life sentence for the murder in October 2011 of accounts manager Sally Hodkin, 58, and the attempted murder of Kerry Clark, 22, in Bexleyheath, Kent.

Armed with a stolen butcher’s cleaver, Nicola virtually decapitated Mrs Hodkin, a grandmother who was on her way to work at a law firm in Blackheath, South-East London.

Earlier, she had attacked Kerry Clark as she waited at a bus stop, with a £2 kitchen knife stolen from Asda. Kerry managed to fight her off.

The court heard how Nicola had spiralled into ‘free-fall relapse’ following her release from the secure Bracton Centre in Dartford, Kent, in 2009, where she had appeared to make good progress.

For two years she had been living at Ambdekar House in Greenwich, run by a council-funded charity, In Touch Support, under the supervision of her mental health team. Considered well enough by doctors and support workers to prepare to live unsupported in the community, she was making plans to move into a flat.

In truth, Nicola Edgington was far from stable. She had stopped taking her anti-psychotic medication after falling pregnant by another resident. When she later miscarried, she deteriorated further.

Two days before she murdered Mrs Hodkin, Nicola sent Tom a Facebook message — their first communication in six years — saying she was ‘missing mum bad’ and that no one was taking care of her ‘like she could’.

He was so alarmed, he contacted his sister’s mental health team immediately to ask for her to be re-assessed. He has no idea if anyone acted on his warning.

On the day of the murder, Nicola dialled 999, pleading for help. She told police: ‘The last time I was feeling like this, I killed someone. I killed my mum.’

CCTV footage showing Nicola being arrested after killing Ms Hodkins and stabbing Kerry Clark

Officers took her voluntarily to the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Woolwich, from where she again repeatedly called 999, screaming to be arrested or sectioned, warning that she was dangerous.

Transferred to Oxleas House, the mental health unit next to A&E, she walked out while a bed was being prepared, and caught a bus to Bexleyheath. There she stole a knife from Asda before launching her attack on Kerry Clark.

Dropping that weapon, Edgington then ran into a nearby butcher’s shop and grabbed a meat cleaver which she used to murder Mrs Hodkin.

An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission found that there had been serious failings and missed opportunities to protect the public.

Tom said that Nicola should have never been released following her murder of their mother

The police failed to carry out a simple computer check on Nicola, which would have alerted them to her previous conviction for manslaughter. A 999 call from the hospital was downgraded because she was considered to be ‘in a place of safety’.

The hospital’s separate review found that her admission had taken ‘too long’ and that security procedures were ‘unclear’. A report by Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust concluded staff had failed to take ‘adequate steps’ to find Nicola after she left and that an on-call consultant should have been contacted.

Ordering her to serve a minimum of 37 years, Recorder of London Brian Barker said: ‘You are manipulative and exceptionally dangerous. You made your choice and the fact is these were terrible acts for which you must take responsibility.’

Tom Edgington has never spoken before about these dreadful events, but says now: ‘I find it impossible to believe that my sister, given her history, was freed to kill again and this just can’t be allowed to happen again.

‘Losing Mum the way we did was traumatic, but it must be even worse for the family of the woman Nicola murdered, knowing it could have been prevented.’

Tom has few happy memories of his childhood growing up in Muswell Hill with his two siblings.

Dad Harry was then a respected foreign correspondent for the Daily Mail, often working from the family home, while his mother Marion’s warm, outgoing personality made her popular in the community.

However, their elder daughter was, from the start, a ‘problem’ child. Her behaviour created strains and divisions within the family, which Tom believes played a part in his parents — who never married — splitting up when he was seven.

‘Nicola seemed to enjoy creating conflict, turning people against each other,’ says Tom. ‘I just thought it was normal, how all families are, because you don’t know anything else.

‘But we grew up feeling like outsiders. Nicola was always in trouble at school and other parents stopped their children from playing with her because they thought she was a bad influence.’

Following her release Nicola killed Sally Hodkin (left) and stabbed Kerry Clarke in the street with a £2 knife she stole from ASDA

Marion Edgington worried for Nicola, who argued with her mother over ‘anything and everything’.

Marion consulted psychologists, but they said her daughter was just a normal child. Tom puts it this way: ‘Nicola was good at faking sanity.’

By the age of 11, however, she was uncontrollable, disappearing for days at a time. Frantic, Marion would regularly phone the police when Nicola went missing.

‘Once, Mum hid every single left shoe of Nicola’s to try to stop her leaving the house, but she just wore a pair of mine instead,’ says Tom.

‘Then Nicola decided she wanted to go into care, so she phoned social services and falsely accused our mother of touching her.

Nicola's mother Marion Edgington who was stabbed to death by her eldest child Nicola

‘She was back home after a week or two. Social services said she was a danger to the other children in care,’ adds Tom, who says his mother received little help or support from social services.

When Nicola was 12, Marion decided to sell up and move the family to a remote cottage in East Sussex for a fresh start. She wanted to take Nicola far away from her London friends, with whom she had started drinking alcohol, smoking and staying out late.

Nicola went to the local state comprehensive, but Marion enrolled Tom and his younger sister at a weekly boarding school in Lewes.

‘I think Mum realised Nicola, who could be physically violent, was becoming a risk to us and wanted to protect me and my sister,’ says Tom.

‘For me, it was a relief to get away from Nicola. I loved boarding school and didn’t want to go home at weekends. Staying with my friends and seeing how other families relate, I realised for the first time just how mentally unstable Nicola was and how that affected our family.’

Nicola left school at 15 with no qualifications. Tom says she was asked to go following an incident in which her behaviour was so threatening she had to be barricaded in a cupboard.

Relations with her mother became so fraught that Nicola moved into a flat in Brighton paid for by her father Harry. He lived in Cyprus for ten years after he split from Marion, before returning to Britain.

On his 13th birthday, Tom visited Nicola who made him smoke cannabis and fed him amphetamines until he was sick.

Aged 17, Nicola miscarried twins after being punched in the stomach by a violent boyfriend.

She moved to London, finding work first as a receptionist in Leicester Square and then as a pole-dancer.

At 19, she was pregnant again, by a drug-dealer boyfriend, and gave birth to a son three months prematurely. It was Marion who helped Nicola care for the baby — her first grandchild.

CCTV image of Nicola boarding a bus, to Bexleyheath, before attacking Sally Hodkin

Nicola had repeatedly called the emergency services to tell them that she was dangerous and should be sectioned

Two years later, Nicola married a Jamaican whom she had met in a club. He was the father of her second son and provided her with a rare period of stability.

‘Nicola’s husband loved her first child as if he were his own. He made sure Nicola took her medication, but at times she treated him terribly and accused him of all kinds of behaviour,’ says Tom.

The marriage ended when Nicola joined an evangelical Christian church and became adamant that God, rather than medication, could heal her. She became convinced she was surrounded by demons. Her husband returned to Jamaica and, when Nicola visited, he was so concerned about her mental state, he wanted both children to stay with him. He refused to let her leave with their son.

On her return to Britain with her elder child, Marion was so worried for the boy’s safety, that she reluctantly contacted social services who took him in to care. He, too, is now living with Nicola’s ex-husband in Jamaica. 

Marion was forced to call social services to protect her grandson from her daughter

‘I think Mum hoped that Nicola would get the medical help she needed and then get her son back. But that didn’t happen,’ says Tom. ‘Without her children, Nicola lost her council-funded accommodation, which she blamed Mum for.

‘Mum told me she was frightened Nicola would kill her. I found out after her death, that Nicola had previously held a knife to Mum’s throat. If I’d known that at the time, I would never have let her anywhere near Mum.’

After moving to Brighton to study drama at college, Tom had done his best to avoid Nicola. It was sheer coincidence she chose to visit Marion the same weekend as Tom and their younger sister Sara.

‘It was all a bit awkward and tense. I decided to take Nicola out to the pub so at least Sara could enjoy some time with Mum,’ says Tom.

‘Nicola was very quiet and just sat there scribbling in a notebook, while I tried to make jokes to lighten the mood.

‘We moved on to another place, but Nicola was asked to leave after getting into a fight with the DJ. When she told me she was going back to London, I was relieved.

‘I phoned home and asked Mum and Sara if they wanted to join me for a drink. Mum couldn’t find anywhere to park, so she dropped off Sara and went back home. Nicola must have been there, waiting for her, when she got back.’

It was Tom, when he returned from the pub, who noticed something odd on the pull-out bed Marion kept in the study for guests.

‘At first I couldn’t make sense of what I was seeing,’ says Tom. ‘I saw a bundle of clothes and two legs and thought Mum must have invited a guest to stay. I called to my younger sister, who went into the room and said: “Don’t go in, don’t look, phone the police.”

‘Then I found the notebook, with Nicola’s list of condemned people. I felt ill when I saw Mum’s name at the top, scored out, and then mine.’

Today, Tom isn’t sure how to feel about his older sister. He still hasn’t come to terms with his mother’s death and says he never wants children, just in case they, too, have psychological problems. Despite his private education he chooses to work in a casino because it offers ‘an escape from reality’. 

Tom accepts Nicola suffers from a mental illness and personality disorder but doesn’t believe this absolves her from all responsibility for the killing of two women.

His anger, however, is reserved for the medical professionals who decided that Nicola was well enough to live back in the community. This, despite Tom and Sara pleading with psychiatrists not to release her.

‘We’ve known Nicola all her life,’ says Tom. ‘We knew she was dangerous. We told them she would always be a risk to other people. She should never have been released, but they just didn’t want to listen to us.’

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