Woman Jailed For Drowning Daughter

Cerebral Palsy

24.09.2008

A woman has been jailed for life for the murder of her four-year-old disabled daughter after a jury took just 90 minutes to unanimously dismiss her claim that she was mentally ill at the time of the tragedy.

Joanne Hill, 32, drowned Naomi in a bath in November last year because she could not cope with her daughter's disability, the jury at Chester crown court heard.

Mrs Hill's defence rested on her claim that she was mentally ill and "blocked out" her emotions when she drowned Naomi, who had cerebral palsy and suffered walking and hearing difficulties.

Judge Elgan Edwards described the case as a tragedy for all concerned as he jailed Mrs Hill for life and ordered she should not be released for 15 years.

"This has been a very sad case," he told her. "Sad for you, your family, for your husband and his family and tragic for the daughter you killed."

It was agreed in court that Mrs Hill, of Deeside, North Wales, was currently mentally ill and Judge Edwards ordered she be moved from prison to a psychiatric unit as soon as possible.

Speaking after the court hearing, her husband Simon said: "What she did to my princess Naomi was evil."

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Kate Petchey from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "We are seeing a worrying increase in the number of cases of parents harming their children because they feel they can't cope with the pressures of parenthood.

"If the parents themselves have disabilities or learning difficulties, the situation can be extremely stressful.

"Caring for a disabled child in particular can be extremely demanding, and there is often either very little support available to the family, or parents simply don't know who to turn to for help.

"We act for children who have suffered severe injuries and have been left with significant and complex needs. We would call for more readily accessible support to be made available for families struggling to deal with the needs of a disabled child."