Monday, 30 May 2011

FILICIDE: Wales: Manslaughter sentence as jury accepts Yvonne Freaney was under severe strain when she killed autistic son

Helen Carter : 26 May 2011

Glen Freaney, 11, was strangled by his mother, Yvonne Freaney
Glen Freaney, 11, was strangled by his mother, Yvonne Freaney, who then tried to kill herself. She has been cleared of murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Photograph: South Wales police/PA
A woman has been cleared of murder after strangling her severely autistic son with a belt and then attempting to take her own life. She will instead be sentenced for manslaughter.
Yvonne Freaney, 49, booked into a hotel with her 11-year-old son Glen intending to kill him and then herself.
After strangling her son, Freaney was found with multiple knife wounds in a room at the Sky Plaza hotel in Rhoose, near Cardiff airport.
She left a note for one of her three other children, who also have disabilities, saying: "You may not understand what has happened but just think of it as I am finally getting rest."
The trial at Cardiff crown court heard she had been facing a lifetime of one-to-one care for her severely autistic son, who needed help dressing, washing, brushing his teeth and feeding. By the age of 11 he was not toilet trained and still wore nappies.
Glen had no verbal communication and used a computer that translated symbols he tapped out.
The court heard that Freaney and her husband, Richard, a 48-year-old former RAF officer, had been having marital problems. She had moved out of the family home and lived in hotels for about a month before killing Glen.
After friends raised the alarm police walked in to find the mother of four sitting on the bed next to her son's body. She told them: "I killed him about 36 hours ago. I tried to join him. He's in heaven now.
"Glen was severely autistic and he won't be autistic there. He'll be happy. No one else would look after him. I strangled him with my belt. I put him to sleep."
The court heard that Freaney also told police: "It is funny. He was laughing when I was strangling him. That is when I knew he was happy."
The prosecution said she had a "loving and devoted" relationship with Glen but there was enormous pressure on her and she was struggling to find a place to live.
An expert for the defence told the court she had a personality disorder based on a fear of losing her children, which meant she could not be a murderer.
She faced a murder charge but was cleared by a jury at Cardiff crown court after a day of deliberation. Freaney had admitted a charge of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
She will be sentenced on 10 June

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