Mother jailed for killing son with bleach

A mother was today jailed for killing her autistic 12-year-old with bleach - after social services allegedly failed to address her mental health problems.

Satpal Kaur Singh, 45, struggled to cope looking after son Ajit and feared he would be taken away, the Old Bailey heard.



Her "obvious" mental health problems were recognised yet she was "allowed to resist help", the court was told.



David Hislop QC, defending, said: "Neighbours knew, school teachers knew, social services knew, but the tragedy for Ajit was that nothing was done."



Singh made her son drink a cup of Domestos in February last year, just hours after she refused to co-operate with council staff at a meeting over his care.



She also drank some herself and in a suicide note said she had done it after being "scrutinised and hounded by social services".



Singh, of Lambourne Road, Barking, east London, was jailed for seven years today after she pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility at an earlier hearing.



Judge Peter Beaumont, the Recorder of London, told her: "I recognise how difficult Ajit was to care for.



"Your deteriorating mental health robbed you of proper insight into what was going wrong and erected real obstacles between you and people and the agencies that were trying so hard to help you."



Barking and Dagenham council said a serious case review was expected to be completed in the next few weeks.



The court heard that, during a meeting with social services on the day she killed her son, Singh had appeared "calm" and no-one who attended had any concerns about her behaviour.



But hours later she rang 999 to say: "I've just murdered my son and I've tried to kill myself."



Police arrived to find the boy lying on his back on the living room sofa, not breathing, and an "almost overpowering" smell of bleach in the air.



Singh later told detectives that voices in her head had been telling her: "You have to do it. Go for it, it's come to an end now."



The judge told her: "You faced the prospect of Ajit being taken away from you, but you killed him. You were, in my judgment, making a statement, without any consideration of his interests."



Psychiatrists agreed that the defendant, who is originally from Manchester, had been suffering from a mental disorder.



Mr Hislop said: "This was a woman who loved her son too much. The belief she held, because of her mental disorder, was that hers was an act of mercy."



He said the boy's life, plagued by health problems, had been made bearable by the "love and devotion" she had shown him.



Mr Hislop added: "One of the tragedies of this case is that the deterioration of her mental health was recognised by so many, yet she was allowed to resist the help of those who should have known better - ignoring the fact that her very resistance was symptomatic of her obvious decline in mental health and her not having any insight into that deterioration.



"Social services and other agencies were aware of her mental health difficulties and the deterioration of them and they were also aware that she was under considerable stress and clearly not coping."



Mr Hislop quoted a social services note from April 2009 which described a "possible mental health breakdown" and said: "She does not seek counselling to help her deal with her stress levels."



In October 2009, Singh complained to a social worker that a disability manager had previously referred to her as "another Victoria Climbie".



Richard Whittam QC, prosecuting, said: "This is a case of great tragedy."



He said Singh feared social services were going to make an interim care order which would result in Ajit being taken away.



The court heard that the boy could not speak and was dependent on his mother for all his needs.



He had trouble getting around outdoors and would cover his ears and scream in crowded or noisy environments.



Mr Whittam said: "Social services had concerns about a number of things, including Satpal's parenting skills and her lack of co-operation."



During a meeting with social services on February 9 last year, she was told that, if she did not follow a care plan that had been devised for her, steps would be taken to remove the child from her care.



She replied by saying there was nothing wrong with her parenting and only she understood her child, adding that she was "not mad" and she did not want herself or her son to be "labelled".



Singh said she got "stressed by the social services 'stressing' her".



Mr Whittam said she "appeared to be calm throughout and did not leave anyone at the meeting with concerns about her immediate behaviour".



But she was upset and crying when she rang her sister at about 11am after the meeting finished, saying there was "bad news" and that social services were going to take her son away.



She made Ajit drink a cup of Domestos at around 8pm and drank some herself an hour later.



After she called 999, police arrived to discover her son lying on the sofa with his eyes closed and his right arm hanging by his side.



The boy had no pulse and was not breathing, and had corrosive burn marks around his mouth, chin and neck.



Singh, who was lying on the floor holding a mobile phone to her ear, was treated with charcoal and milk for the effects of drinking bleach.



She told a paramedic she had been thinking about "doing this" for four years, said Mr Whittam.



Singh told a doctor she killed her son after being told at the meeting that he would be taken away, adding: "Today I just couldn't take any more. This shouldn't have happened to him."



Barking and Dagenham Council said in a statement: "Barking and Dagenham Council's thoughts, first and foremost, continue to be with the Singh family.



"The council contributed to an independent serious case review to look into all details of this case and to address lessons arising.



"Barking and Dagenham Safeguarding Children Board will publish the findings of that independent review in due course."

Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth gamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game