Mother who killed baby avoids jail term

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The Independent Online

A young mother suffering from depression avoided jail yesterday despite killing her baby daughter in a jealous rage by tossing her from the window of a second-floor flat.

An Old Bailey judge told Helen Patterson, 21, she had been a loving and devoted mother before killing 10-month-old Shedrina because she believed her lover was seeing other women.

Judge Gerald Gordon imposed a three-year community order, saying that what she had done to her daughter amounted to a permanent punishment. She is now said to have no interests in life apart from her dead baby.

Patterson killed Shedrina when the baby's father, Oswraine Bramble, went to her flat in Tottenham, north London, to tell her their relationship was over because of her obsessive jealousy.

She initially tried to blame her boyfriend, claiming he pushed her and that she accidentally dropped the baby. However, the court heard that Patterson became obsessed with Mr Bramble, 23, in 1998. Five days before the killing she set fire to his clothes.

In August 2000, he went to the flat they once shared to talk things over but they started to quarrel and Mr Bramble said he was going to leave. Patterson followed him, demanding to know why, before telling him to wait because she was "going to show him something".

She picked up the baby and went with her into the bedroom as if she was going to put her in her cot. Mr Bramble followed, but found that she was standing by an open window with the net curtain drawn back and the baby cradled in her left arm.

When he asked her what she was doing, Patterson said she was looking for something. Mr Bramble went to leave again but when he turned towards Patterson, he saw her throw the baby out of the window in a sudden movement.

Mr Bramble ran out of the flat and found the baby among dustbins but still breathing. He laid the baby on a car bonnet until an ambulance arrived. She was taken to the North Middlesex Hospital but died within 30 minutes.

Sir John Nutting QC, for the prosecution, said: "The defendant was obsessed with Mr Bramble. She was insecure and incapable of controlling her jealousy. In truth, her jealousy knew no bounds."

He said she had not believed Mr Bramble's assurances that he loved her and thought that he was seeing other women. Her paranoid jealousy extended to members of Mr Bramble's own family.

Mr Bramble later told the police: "It started to get me down. It got to the stage where we seemed to argue all the time."

At the Old Bailey, Judge Gordon said yesterday: "In so far as punishment is necessary, I am satisfied that your continued feelings about your daughter and what you did to her will amount in themselves to a permanent punishment."

Patterson, who now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, had shown deep remorse and has visited the baby's grave almost daily. She had initially seemed an ideal mother and the child was well-nourished and well cared for, the court was told.

Linda Strudwick, for the defence, said: "What began as normal jealousy became morbid. She killed her baby in a moment of madness. She was a devoted and loving mother. She is now utterly distraught and has no interest in life except her dead baby."

Patterson, who was described in court as having a low IQ, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Less than a month ago at the Old Bailey, a 19-year-old woman also avoided jail after throwing her newborn baby out of a window. She admitted killing the infant but the judge passed an 18-month community rehabilitation order after hearing that she had been made pregnant by a rapist.