Northern Ireland

Mother who killed son during depressive episode given probation

Laganside Courthouse
Image caption The judge said he did not consider justice would be served by sending the mother back to prison

A depressed mother who killed her youngest son because she feared she had given him "bad genes" has been given probation.

The 32-year-old woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, telephoned 999 on the morning of 9 April 2014 to say she had killed her five-month-old baby.

He was taken to hospital but died four weeks later.

The judge said he did not consider justice would be served by sending the mother back to prison.

He told the court the woman had been assessed by three different consultant psychiatrists and all "were unanimous in the view that at the time of the offence the defendant was suffering from a severe depressive episode with psychotic features following the birth of her second child".

The judge said the woman had "expressed the deepest remorse and sorrow to her husband and surviving son" and that "she recognised that she had taken everything from her son - his whole future - and considered that this would haunt her for the rest of her life".

He also told her that in deciding how to deal with her case he had "carefully considered all of the expert reports, pre-sentence reports and the details and helpful submissions" from both the prosecution and defence lawyers.

Belfast Crown Court had previously heard the woman had originally been charged with the murder of her son, but that all medical and legal experts agreed that the appropriate charge was one of infanticide, which she admitted.

The offence of infanticide is similar to manslaughter and occurs when a mother kills her baby while suffering from mental ill health.

The woman was put on probation for three years, with the added condition she follows and complies with all medical, psychiatric, psychological or counselling assessment and treatments.

Failure to do so could result in her being resentenced.

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