Mother who strangled autistic son walks free from court|
CARDIFF, Wales: A mother who strangled her autistic son because she could no longer cope with looking after him has walked free from court. Yvonne Freaney, 50, admitted she had killed her son Glen, 11, with a coat belt in an airport hotel room.Freaney told police she had killed Glen so "no one could point fingers at him" when he was in heaven.
Mother-of-four Freaney also tried to kill herself but botched her attempts to slash her wrists - and was found alive by ambulance crews.
She was cleared of murder but admitted manslaughter by diminished responsibility. Judge Mr Justice Wyn Williams allowed her to walk free with a supervision order. He said it was "the most difficult sentencing" he had ever had in his career.
Mr Justice Wyn Williams told her: "You have already been punished enough. The only sensible and credible explanation is that your state of mind was truly abnormal. At the end, you genuinely but irrationally believed that no-one but you could care for Glen and, since you were intent on killing himself, you had to kill him first.
"Notwithstanding the fact that your crime was to kill a child, your culpability was very low. There could be no doubts you were completely devoted to Glen throughout his short life and showered him with love and affection. You cared for him with the best of your ability, day in and day out. He was very demanding but you never let that deflect from putting his best interests above those of your own."
John Charles Rees, defending, said: "She was undoubtably a loving mother to all her children and killed Glen out of love not malice. There was never any dispute as to the facts of this case. The issue was a medical one. She was suffering from a personality disorder. This is a wholly exceptional case we've heard, for reasons quite a distressing and haunting.
"She went through experiences that no one should ever have to go through. She needs to be reintroduced into the community and back into her family, that can't happen over night but can happen in a supervised and controled way.
Freaney was discovered in the Sky Plaza hotel room near Cardiff Airport with multiple knife wounds after a botched suicide attempt.As she was being arrested, Freaney said: "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. He is in heaven now. I killed him. I was frightened about who would look after him."
The court heard "loving and devoted" Freaney was facing a lifetime of one-to-one caring for Glen after the breakdown of her abusive marriage.
The jury heard how Glen could walk, run and ride a bike and communicated through a computer by tapping on symbols on the screen. But he was not toilet trained and still wore nappies.
Prosecutor Greg Taylor QC said: "Glen was a young boy who suffered from severe autism - he was diagnosed when he was aged four. He was generally fit and well and had a normal life expectancy but he was totally dependent on adult care. He needed help, dressing, washing, brushing his teeth and feeding."
Mr Taylor told the court Freaney and her husband, Mark, had a marriage "filled with problems" and she moved out of the family home about a month before Glen's death.
The jury was told how 17-stone former RAF serviceman, Mark, had attacked his wife on numerous occasions at their home inBarry, South Wales. Police were called several times to the family home after alleged domestic violence. Freaney was examined by doctorsfor injuries but never pressed charges against her husband. The court heard that Mr Freaney had told social services: "I'm a wife-beater and proud of it. She deserves it."
Freaney must be supervised by the probation service, attend mental health meetings, live in approved accommodation and not have contact with children under 18 without supervision.
Following the trial, Freaney's husband, Mark, called Glen's death "a tragedy". He said: "The outcome of the trial, whatever the verdict reached, will not bring Glen back to us. The tragedy of his death still causes us great pain. He was a wonderful friendly boy and very much loved by us all, and we miss him deeply."
Her daughter, Carla, said: "I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped and supported us through this very hard time. The conclusion of the trial will help give closure for us all and allow us to move on. I love my mother and will remain supportive of her."
Detective Chief Inspector Richard Jones said: "Any investigation into the death of a child is distressing for everyone involved. This was a very difficult case but it was only correct that the facts were presented at court. We note the decision of the court today and extend our sympathies to the family."
(Source: Daily Telegraph, July 1, 2011)