Foster mother, 38, denies murder of 12-month-old boy and ‘smashing head against couch’

Baby Leiland-James (pictured) was living with his future adoptive parents - Laura Castle and her husband, Scott, 35 - when emergency services were called to their home in Barrow-in-Furness on January 6 last year

Baby Leiland-James (pictured) was living with his future adoptive parents - Laura Castle and her husband, Scott, 35 - when emergency services were called to their home in Barrow-in-Furness on January 6 last year

A foster mother has denied killing a 12-month-old boy and “smashing his head against the couch” but admits killing him because she was “tired and exhausted” from his crying, a court has heard.

Baby Leiland-James Corkill was living with his future adoptive parents – Laura Castle and her husband Scott, 35 – when emergency services were called to their home in Barrow-in-Furness on January 6 last year.

Castle, 38, initially claimed that Leiland-James accidentally fell off the couch at her home, despite the youngster suffering catastrophic head injuries.

The defendant continued to insist that Leiland-James’ death was a tragic accident until she admitted his manslaughter last week on the eve of her trial at Preston Crown Court.

Castle also lied in her prepared defense statement before eventually changing her plea and admitting she shook Leiland-James after he didn’t stop crying and screaming, the court heard.

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

The youngster was a ‘groomed child’ who was taken care of at birth before being approved by authorities to live with Castle and her husband, Scott, 35, from August 2020.

The defendant denies murder and now says that Leiland-James slammed his head against the back of the armrest of a sofa after shaking it and then falling from her knee to the floor.

However, medical experts told the trial that the level of violence required to inflict his injuries would have been “serious” and “significant”.

Baby Leiland-James (pictured) was living with his future adoptive parents - Laura Castle and her husband, Scott, 35 - when emergency services were called to their home in Barrow-in-Furness on January 6 last year

Baby Leiland-James (pictured) was living with his future adoptive parents - Laura Castle and her husband, Scott, 35 - when emergency services were called to their home in Barrow-in-Furness on January 6 last year

Baby Leiland-James (pictured) was living with his future adoptive parents – Laura Castle and her husband, Scott, 35 – when emergency services were called to their home in Barrow-in-Furness on January 6 last year

A cross-examination of Michael Brady, QC, explained to Laura Castle that it wasn’t just a matter of shaking.

He said, “I suggest you smashed the back of Leiland-James’ head against the armrest of the sofa or possibly a table with great force?”

Castle replied, “No.”

Mr. Brady continued, “What was so frustrating about this baby that you behaved like this?”

The defendant said: ‘I was so tired and exhausted and overwhelmed. There was so much noise.’

Mr Brady said, ‘Why not just run away?’

Castle said, “I think about that every second of every day and regret what I’ve done, and I have to pay the consequences for that. I accept that.

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

Mr. Brady said, “How are you going to give Leiland-James justice?”

She replied, “That this is my fault.”

Mr. Brady asked, ‘Are you going to lie now?’

The defendant said, ‘No. I accept that my child died because of me.’

Mr Brady said, ‘Lying to the 12 members of this jury won’t cause you any problem, will it?’

She replied, ‘I have been honest. I’m just telling you what happened and yes, it may be too late, but I’m trying to pay for what I’ve done.”

Mr Brady said, ‘Are you so overcome with guilt that you have fallen on your sword or is it an acceptance of the most compelling medical evidence showing this is a non-accidental injury?’

Castle said, “We were guilty because I’m guilty.”

Mr. Brady said, “You’ve been trying to talk your way out of a murder conviction, haven’t you?”

Castle, 38, (left) initially claimed that Leiland-James Corkill accidentally fell off the couch at her home, despite the youngster suffering catastrophic head injuries.  Pictured right: Castle's husband Scott

Castle, 38, (left) initially claimed that Leiland-James Corkill accidentally fell off the couch at her home, despite the youngster suffering catastrophic head injuries.  Pictured right: Castle's husband Scott

Castle, 38, (left) initially claimed that Leiland-James Corkill accidentally fell off the couch at her home, despite the youngster suffering catastrophic head injuries. Pictured right: Castle’s husband Scott

Castle said to the judges, “No. I said yesterday when I heard the evidence from the prosecution that I would be convicted of murder, but all I can say is please look at everything.”

The court had previously heard the couple struggle to bond with the baby and, unbeknownst to emergency workers, referred to him by “unpleasant and aggressive” names, including a “s**t bag,” “fat s**t’ and a ‘top t**t’.

Messages between the couple, later discovered on their cell phones, also revealed that Laura Castle had been violent towards the child and told her husband that she had “lost the plot and got to know him”.

Preston Crown Court heard Castle say she “lost her mind” when Leiland-James Corkill didn’t stop crying after feeding him breakfast on the morning of January 6.

She told her attorney, David McLachlan, QC, ‘I shook my pretty boy. I just wanted him to stop crying.’

Mr. McLachlan asked, “How many times have you shaken it?”

Castle replied, “I don’t know.”

Mr. McLachlan continued, “How much force did you use to shake it?”

The defendant said, “I don’t know, but I would say a lot.”

She explained that Leiland-James hit his head against the back of the sofa and fell from her knee to the floor.

Castle said, “I picked him up. I just couldn’t handle crying. I don’t know who that person is and then it’s like I realized what had happened and I thought he was out of breath.

“I picked him up and his hands were like stiff, then he went limp. He was gasping and I just thought he was out of breath.’

In tears, Castle accepted that she had killed Leiland-James.

Mr. McLachlan asked, “What went through your mind when you shook the life out of Leiland-James?”

Castle said, ‘Please stop crying, please stop crying. I just wanted it to stop.’

The youngster was a 'groomed child' who was taken care of at birth before being approved by authorities to live with Castle and her husband, Scott, 35, from August 2020.

The youngster was a 'groomed child' who was taken care of at birth before being approved by authorities to live with Castle and her husband, Scott, 35, from August 2020.

The youngster was a ‘groomed child’ who was taken care of at birth before being approved by authorities to live with Castle and her husband, Scott, 35, from August 2020.

She said at the time when she told her husband that the boy had fallen off the sofa, but failed to inform him of the shaking.

Mr. McLachlan said, “Why didn’t you tell the people who were trying to save the life of Leiland-James what had happened?”

Castle said, “I have no excuse. I just panicked. I was just terrified of the consequences of my actions and ashamed.”

Her lawyer said, “And police officers in question gave you every opportunity to tell the truth?”

The defendant said: ‘Yes, they did. I told the truth, but I didn’t tell everything as I should have.’

She admitted that she had not given a full account in her prepared defense statement prior to the trial.

Castle said, “I found it so hard to admit that your child died because of your actions, and I can’t turn it back.”

Mr. McLachlan asked, ‘What did you mean, Mrs. Castle, when you shook Leiland-James?

She replied, ‘I wasn’t going to. I’ve just gone crazy.’

Mr. McLachlan added, ‘What did you think would happen if you shook this baby with such force?’

She said, “I honestly wasn’t thinking that far ahead. He screamed, he didn’t deserve to… I didn’t kill my little boy. It’s not murder. My little boy, I killed him.’

Castle’s husband, an aerospace night shift worker, also denies causing or allowing the death of a child. The pair both deny two separate allegations of child abuse.

The process continues.

Source: New feed