Woman tells jury she admitted killing 12-month-old boy to ‘give him justice’

She had previously told doctors, police and her family that the youngster died from a tragic accident when he fell off a sofa at her home

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A woman has told a jury she finally admitted killing the 12-month-old boy she was hoping to adopt to “give him justice”.

Laura Castle, 38, entered a plea of guilty to the manslaughter of Leiland-James Corkill on the eve of her trial at Preston Crown Court – more than 16 months after the youngster died from catastrophic head injuries.

She had told doctors, police and her family that the youngster died from a tragic accident when he fell off a sofa at her home in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, the court heard.

Castle also lied in her prepared defence case statement before she eventually changed her plea and conceded she had shaken Leiland-James after he would not stop crying and screaming, the court heard.

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court

She said she lied because she was “ashamed” and “terrified of the consequences of her actions”.

Leiland-James was a “looked-after child” who was taken into care at birth before he was approved by authorities to live from August 2020 with Castle and her husband Scott, 35, who wanted to permanently adopt him.

Doctors treating the youngster in hospital following the incident at the Castles’ home on January 6 last year raised the alarm when they found his injuries did not match Laura Castle’s account, the court heard.

Leiland-James died the following day.

The defendant denies murder and now says Leiland-James hit his head on the back of a sofa arm-rest after she shook him and then he fell off her knee on to the floor.

Medical experts told the trial though that the degree of force required to cause his injuries would have been “severe” and “considerable”.

Cross-examining Michael Brady QC put it to Laura Castle that it was not just a case of shaking.

He said: “I suggest you smashed the back of Leiland-James’s head with significant force against the arm-rest of the sofa or possibly a table?”

Laura Castle replied: “No.”

Mr Brady went on: “What was so frustrating about this baby that caused you to act in this way?”

The defendant said: “I was so tired and drained and overwhelmed. There was so much noise.”

Mr Brady said: “Why not simply walk away?”

Laura Castle said: “I honestly think about that every second of the day and regret what I have done, and I have to pay the consequence for that. I accept that.

“What I’m trying to do is give my boy justice.”

Mr Brady said: “In what way are you going to give Leiland-James justice?”

She replied: “That this is my fault.”

Mr Brady asked: “Are you continuing to lie now?”

The defendant said: “No. I accept that my child has died because of me.”

Mr Brady said: “Lying to the 12 members of this jury is not going to cause you any difficulty at all, is it?”

She replied: “I have been honest. I am just telling what happened and yes it may be too late but I’m trying to pay for what I have done.”

Mr Brady said: “Have you been so overcome by guilt you have fallen on your sword or is it an acceptance of the utterly compelling medical evidence showing this is a non-accidental injury?”

Castle said: “We did guilty because I am guilty.”

Mr Brady said: “You have tried to talk your way out of a conviction for murder, haven’t you?”

Facing the jurors, Laura Castle said: “No. I said yesterday on hearing the evidence from the prosecution I would be convicting me of murder but all I can say is please look at everything.”

The Crown say she murdered Leiland-James as her frustration with him turned into hostility.

Laura Castle denies murder and child cruelty.

Scott Castle denies causing or allowing the death of Leiland-James and also child cruelty.

The trial continues.