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Hannah Turtle pleads guilty to murder of eight-week-old son

Credit: Andrew Price/North Wales Police

A woman from Shotton has pleaded guilty to the murder of her baby son.

Hannah Turtle had denied murdering eight-week-old James Hughes but today following delays in the trial, she changed her plea at Mold Crown Court and admitted murdering him back in 2016.

She pleaded guilty to murder, three charges of cruelty likely to cause unnecessary suffering and two charges of administering him a poison, her anti-depressant medication.

The court heard that James was resuscitated twice after Ms Turtle restricted his breathing on two occasions on 31 May and 3 June 2016.

Then on 6 June, he was taken to hospital and later died after suffering brain damage and lack of oxygen at 58 days old.

The court heard how she told social workers she had killed him. Turtle said that she sat in the room for some ten minutes and wanted to tell her partner’s mother but could not bring herself to do so.

“My body just wouldn’t tell her,” she said.

Turtle said she heard voices.

“I just put my hand over his mouth, “ she said.

“I just couldn’t stop myself”.

The jury was discharged by Mr Justice Lewis as Turtle – who claimed she had heard voices telling her she was a bad mother - sat in the dock crying.

Defending barrister Gordon Cole QC said that the jury had not heard the psychiatric evidence but said there was relevant material available which would go to mitigation.

Infanticide was no longer an issue, but post-natal depression was, he said.

While she had no mental illness it was agreed that she suffered from a personality disorder.

The judge told the jury that there had to be a life-sentence for murder but he needed to fix the minimum term she would have to serve, and one of the issues he would need to consider was her culpability.

Turtle was remanded in custody and is expected to be sentenced on Thursday.

Commenting on Hannah Turtle's guilty plea, NSPCC Wales said neglect by those closest to the victim is a 'sad reality':

While it is not yet known why Turtle carried out this appalling murder it is clear that her role as a parent was to protect her child from harm. Instead, she killed her defenceless baby son and it is right that she is now facing justice for her despicable actions.

James’s life was tragically cut short and it is a sad reality that cases of abuse and neglect most often involve people close to the victims. Babies and young children are entirely dependent on those who care for them and we all have a duty to look out for their welfare.

– NSPCC Wales spokesperson

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