Hannah Turtle jailed for life for murdering her baby son

  • 22 February 2018

Hannah Turtle
Image caption Hannah Turtle initially denied murdering her son and administering a poison to him

A mother who murdered her baby son after voices told her she was a bad mother, has been jailed for life.

Hannah Turtle, 22, from Shotton, Flintshire, suffocated seven-week-old James Hughes in June 2016.

She stopped his breathing on two other occasions before she killed him – both times he was revived in hospital.

Turtle, who changed her plea to guilty during her murder trial at Mold Crown Court, must serve at least 14 years and nine months in prison.

She also admitted five other child cruelty charges including administering poison to him, by putting her anti-depressant in James’s milk bottle on two occasions.

Mr Justice Clive Lewis said Turtle suffered from a personality disorder which reduced her culpability and he was not sure she had meant to kill him.

In a victim impact statement James’s grandmother Kathleen Hughes described Turtle as “pure evil”.

The jury had heard how Turtle stopped James breathing on three occasions within a 10-day period, including when she was left alone with him in hospital.

Then on 9 June 2016 she suffocated her son again, this time he did not recover, and died in hospital four days later from brain damage due to oxygen deprivation.

During the trial Turtle said how James fought back when she put her hand over his face, but then he went all floppy and white.

A social worker told the jury Turtle had smiled as she told her how she had smothered her baby as he was sleeping in the cot.

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption James Hughes died from brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation

Turtle initially denied harming her son when questioned by police but was re-interviewed after she told social workers that she had killed him.

The defendant said she wished she had not done it and said she needed help.

She had claimed to have heard voices telling her she was a bad mother, she had been abused as a child, suffered from depression and had mental health problems.

While there had no evidence of mental illness the jury heard Turtle had been assessed as potentially having post-natal depression in the days before James’s death.

Speaking after her sentencing Catrin Attwell, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said Turtle had twice administered her own anti-depressants to her son.

“Each time, she made sure there was no-one to witness her cruelty and stayed silent while doctors tried to find a medical cause for James’ problems,” she said.

A child protection review into the actions leading up to James’s death is ongoing.

BBC News – Wales