Mother: I did not murder autistic son

A mother who killed her severely autistic son by strangling him told police she had sent him to the "kingdom of heaven" where he would be happy without the disability, a court heard today.

Yvonne Freaney said she killed her 11-year-old son Glen at a hotel near Cardiff Airport, South Wales, because no-one else would look after him.

The 49-year-old admits manslaughter but denies murdering Glen, whose body was found in a room at the Sky Plaza Hotel in May last year.

Opening the prosecution at Cardiff Crown Court, Gregg Taylor QC told jurors: "This is going to be a difficult case."

Freaney, from Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, hung her head and stared at the floor as the case against her was outlined.

The court heard Freaney, who has three other children, harmed herself before lying on the bed beside her son.

She had laid his toys around him and sang to him as she held him tightly.

Mr Taylor said police officers arrived at the hotel just before 5pm.

He said Freaney told them: "I killed him about 36 hours ago, I have tried to join him. He's in heaven now.

"I strangled him. I used my belt over there by the bed.

"He's severely autistic, he's in heaven now where he won't be autistic, he'll be happy now."

Freaney was taken to hospital with a number of injuries to her wrists, arms, shoulder, chest and feet.

Mr Taylor said that after she was arrested Freaney added: "I had to do it, no-one else would look after him.

"I strangled him with my belt. I put him to sleep in the early hours. I needed to join him.

"I've sent him to the kingdom of heaven, he's happy there.

"It's funny, he was laughing when I strangled him, that's when I knew he'd be happy there."

The court was told Freaney said her only regret was that she had not taken her own life.

The jury heard Freaney had suffered from a long history of domestic abuse and self-harm, and lived in "dirty and cluttered" conditions.

Police were called several times to the family home after alleged incidents of domestic violence and social services became involved after a police officer described their home as "uninhabitable".

Freaney left her husband in March 2010, taking Glen with her and stayed in a series of hotels in the following weeks.

The court heard Glen had severe autism, requiring 24-hour care and was totally dependent on his mother.

The jury was told Freaney was a devoted mother who was always encouraging him, emphasised his achievements and never left his side.

During the months leading up to Glen's death the prosecution described a "build-up of pressure" on Freaney after her marriage came to an end and she was unable to find anywhere for herself and Glen to live.

Mr Taylor told the court Freaney had told doctors she did not want to leave Glen on his own, that her husband would not be able to cope and it would have been cruel to leave him behind.