South East Wales

Yvonne Freaney killed son 'to protect him from care'

A woman killed her severely autistic son because she was frightened he would be taken into care, a court has heard.

Yvonne Freaney, 49, admits the manslaughter of Glen, 11, at a hotel near Cardiff Airport, but denies murder.

She told police no-one else would look after him.

Cardiff Crown Court heard Mrs Freaney, from Penarth, may have a personality disorder linked to a fear of losing her children. The trial continues.

On Friday, her defence began with consultant psychiatrist Dr Tegwyn Williams of the Caswell Clinic in Bridgend arguing her condition meant she was not a murderer.

Mrs Freaney was sent to the clinic for psychiatric evaluation after the death of her son at the Sky Plaza hotel in Rhoose, Vale of Glamorgan in May 2010..

Dr Williams' evidence contradicted the opinion of a prosecution expert who insisted her condition was not serious enough to amount to a personality disorder.

John Charles Rees QC, defending, asked Dr Williams if there was any doubt in his mind that Mrs Freaney was suffering a personality disorder.

"None at all," he told the court.

"And that it substantially diminished her responsibility?" Mr Rees asked.

"None at all," Dr Williams said again.

Continuing to give evidence, Dr Williams said that Mrs Freaney's self-worth and self-esteem were based on the idea that she was a good parent.

Image caption Mrs Freaney has admitted Glen's manslaughter but denies murdering him

He added that a clear sign she was suffering a personality disorder was that she demonstrated an inability to function in all other areas of her life.

"I think that the threat that the children may be removed from her was overpowering," Dr Williams told the jury.

"My understanding from discussions with her is that initially she was so helpless and powerless that she wanted to kill herself.

"Her state from that point deteriorated and I believe that she saw no other option other than to kill herself and to kill Glen.

"In her mind she was protecting him from the awfulness of his abuse by people who would have to care for him other than her."

Dislocating shoulder

Dr Williams said that Mrs Freaney had had an unusual upbringing which "left a lot to be desired" and included a relationship with a 22-year-old man when she was 12, and which was "with the agreement" of her parents.

He added that she would have suffered from low self-esteem as a child, but taken those issues with her into adulthood and they could have been made worse by her husband, Mark Freaney, who he alleged was abusive.

Earlier in the trial, Mr Freaney admitted dislocating her shoulder in one of many assaults on her.

The court has heard that all Mrs Freaney's four children had disabilities.

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