Both Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks) and Alice Branning (Jasmyn Banks) have been found not guilty of murdering Michael Moon during dramatic scenes shown in this evening’s episode of EastEnders.
The verdict marks Charlie Brooks’s exit from the BBC1 soap as Janine left Walford for Paris in order to be reunited with daughter Scarlett, who is currently being cared for by Janine’s sister Diane.
But there was bad news for Kat (Jessie Wallace) who, after giving false evidence, will now be investigated for committing perjury.
In a shock turn of events during the trial itself, Janine learned that Alice had attempted to harm herself while in her cell. It was a development that eventually prompted Janine to ask to be recalled to the witness stand where she finally told the truth under questioning.
On the circumstances surrounding Michael’s death, Janine admitted that she had lied: “Alice didn’t stab Michael the second time. I did, because what Alice said was true; Michael was psychotic and he was strangling me. So she stabbed him. Then she went to let the police in and I thought I was safe. I thought it was over. I didn’t realise he wasn’t that badly hurt.
He reached for the knife and he was going to kill me. So I just grabbed it first, but he didn’t stop. He came at me and I thought I was going to die. I was so scared. I had to do something to stop him. I had to.”
Janine went on to explain that she’d previously withheld this vital information for fear that Scarlett would be left an orphan if her mum was sent to prison. Despite the prosecution lawyer then branding Janine “a consummate liar”, the jury proceeded to find both defendants not guilty of murder.
Following the verdict, Janine made a brief visit to the Queen Vic where she apologised to the assembled Brannings and Jacksons and offered to buy them all a drink. But Carol (Lindsey Coulson) showed that she was still in a fighting mood. Once she’d revealed that Alice had left hospital and returned to her mum’s house, Carol rounded on Janine:
“I’m not a violent person, Janine,” began the Jackson family matriarch. “But I’ve never come so close to hurting someone as I am now. But I won’t because I’m just your average, decent person. I don’t kill people. I don’t try and cover it up. I don’t scheme and plot. And neither did Alice.”
Carol then went on to tell Janine that she wasn’t wanted in Walford, not even by her own family. And after a heart-to-heart with David (Michael French) in which we were left with the impression that she does have a conscience after all, Janine left E20, leaving David with the money he’d extorted from her over Christmas.
But there was still time for a little more devilry from wily Janine when – while waiting at the train station for the Eurostar – she set her sights on a handsome stranger who revealed he’d won the lottery. As the man’s partner went off to powder her nose, Janine revealed that she was celebrating “getting away with murder”.
Although tonight’s episode sees Charlie Brooks’s final appearance on EastEnders, the actress hasn’t ruled out a return in the future: “I’ve loved my time on the show and I would hate to think that I might never get to play Janine again. However, it’s time for a new challenge in my life.”