Yvonne Freaney 'punished enough' for autistic son death
- 1 July 2011
- From the section Wales
A judge has told a mother who killed her severely autistic 11-year-old son she has been punished enough as he spared her prison.
Yvonne Freaney, 50, of Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, had admitted the manslaughter of her son Glen at a hotel near Cardiff Airport in May 2010.
Mr Justice Williams gave her a three-year supervision order at Cardiff Crown Court. She had been cleared of murder.
The judge said it was the hardest sentencing exercise he had undertaken.
Freaney was cleared of murder at a trial in May.
The court heard she and son Glen were staying at the Sky Plaza hotel in May last year.
She had moved out of the family home and had been living in hotels for about a month before Glen was killed after her marriage broke down.
The court heard she had suffered years of physical abuse by her husband Mark, a former RAF serviceman, whom she married in 1996.
On the day she killed Glen, she was discovered alive in her hotel room, despite trying to cut her wrists and taking an overdose.
As she was arrested, she told emergency services: "It's funny. He was laughing when I was strangling him. That is when I knew he was happy.
"I had to do it because now no one can point fingers at him. My only regret is that I couldn't end my own life."
During her trial, the court heard that Glen communicated through a computer by tapping on symbols on the screen.
He suffered from severe autism and still wore nappies.
As well as being his main carer, Freaney also looked after her three other children - who suffered hyper-activity disorder, dyspraxia and Asperger's syndrome - and her elderly mother.
After her arrest, Freaney was detained at a secure mental health unit ahead of her trial before being remanded in custody.
A jury of seven men and five women decided she was suffering "extreme mental stress" at the time she strangled Glen with and cleared her of murder.
Defending barrister John Charles Rees QC said Freaney had never disputed killing her son and was a woman with no previous convictions.
'Substantial mitigating factors'
He called the prospect of imposing an immediate prison term a "pointless exercise" given that Freaney has "effectively been in custody" since being arrested and would be out on licence within a few days or weeks.
Mr Justice Williams described her as a "loving mother" and accepted there was low risk of her re-offending but said she needed help to address her mental health issues.
He said he wanted to make it clear the taking of a life was a very serious issue, even when a plea of diminished responsibility was accepted by the court.
But he said there were several and "substantial mitigating factors" in the case.
"I found this sentencing exercise the most difficult I have ever taken," the judge said.
"I believe you have been punished enough."