Monday, 16 May 2011

FILICIDE: Wales: Yvonne Freaney charged with murder of disabled son

A DEVOTED mother under pressure strangled her young disabled son to death before cutting her own wrists, a jury heard today.
Yvonne Freaney, 49, who survived and was charged with murder, used the belt of her coat to kill 11-year-old Glen, who she had cared for day and night all his life, prosecutor Gregg Taylor QC told Cardiff Crown Court.
At the time, she was said to have been running from a marriage marred by domestic issues and violent arguments which involved police, doctors and hospitals.
She had accused Mark Freaney, the man she married in May 1996, of giving too much of his time to the Penarth Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) club, where he was chairman.
The club, she alleged, always came first.
Glen, who at the age of four had been diagnosed with severe autism, died in a room at the Sky Plaza Hotel in Rhoose in May 2010.
It was one of several hotels he and his mother had moved into after she left her husband two months earlier.
Mr Taylor told the 12 jurors at Cardiff Crown Court, where Freaney admits manslaughter but denies murdering the youngest of her four children from two marriages: “Glen was killed while lying on a bed the their hotel room.
“Then when she was sure he was dead, she lay down beside him and tried to commit suicide by cutting her wrists and making cuts to other places on her arms, her legs and body.
“The defence argument is that you should find her not guilty of murder because at the time she was suffering from such an abnormality of mind as to substantially diminish her responsibility.
“The prosecution does not accept that argument but say this is a case of murder”.
He said psychiatrists would give evidence about “diminished responsibility” but the decision on the charge would be for the jury not for medical experts.
He urged them to approach what is a difficult case, dispassionately, especially as later this week is the first anniversary of the boy’s death.
Freaney, he said, had attempted suicide before, when her first marriage ended in 1984, cutting her wrists so badly she needed plastic surgery.
She told a doctor then that she wanted to kill herself but was afraid to die and admitted she sometimes deliberately worried her then husband with dramatic talk of suicide.
Mr Taylor said: “When she was seen at the University Hospital of Wales on May 16 last year [after Glen’s body had been found], none of her cuts were life-threatening.
“Apart from cleaning and steristrips there was no need for other treatment.
“But as far as the prosecution can tell she appears to have made a serious bid to kill herself – we are not saying she did not want to die”.
He alleged the Freaneys had problems right from 1996 until 2010 revolving around alcohol and episodes of minor violence from both parties.
Her older daughter, who has children of her own, was sometimes a witness at the family home in Salop Street, Penarth which they later had to leave after police and social services declared it so dirty and cluttered, it was uninhabitable.
An older son had left home to study law at university.
Mr Taylor told jurors: “From the time he was born, Yvonne Freaney devoted herself to being Glen’s full time carer. He need constant attention, 24 hours a day and couldn’t be left alone for a minute.
“He was generally fit, with a normal life expectancy but totally dependant for washing, dressing and feeding.
“He was not toilet trained and wore nappies but he could walk – and run – with special boots and was excited by cars and fire engines and would run to look at them with no awareness of danger.”
He described Glen as a happy boy, who attended Ashgrove specialist school, where teachers observed how devoted and caring his mother was towards him, as later would hotel staff.
But in the weeks before his died, he was hardly at school at all.
And at the same time, Freaney was said to have been under pressure in her role at the RAFA club, where she had agreed to become treasurer, when they were having problems in 2009.
“She always did the weekly pay for the staff but it was simply too much,” Mr Taylor said.
“In the months leading up to March 2010 she just wasn’t coping.
“She complained the RAFA always came first with Mark and that he did not love her and in fact he hated her.
The court heard of a serious of text messages between her, her family and the club as she moved with Glen from one hotel to another and of letters eventually found in the treasurer’s locker at the club.
One letter was to a club committee member telling him, “Every hour of every day it’s been the RAFA – the first words in the morning and the last at night.
“Mark is a good chairman, 200% devoted.
“My marriage was far from perfect but the club put the final nail in the coffin. I’m a broken person who can’t go on”.
To one of her children, she wrote: “Just think of it as me finally being at rest.
“Remember, although I’m not there, I love you .... Mummy.”
The case continues.

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