Council 'sorry' for death of Leiland-James Corkill killed by woman who hoped to adopt him

Cumbria County Council say they are "deeply sorry" for the death of a one-year-old boy who was murdered by a woman who hoped to adopt him.

Laura Castle was found guilty at Preston Crown Court on Tuesday of killing Leiland-James Corkill who died of "catastrophic head injuries" at her home in Barrow in January 2021.

The 38-year-old said she had shaken the child after he had not stopped crying and his head hit the arm-rest of the sofa on to the floor.

Leiland-James was placed with Laura and Scott Castle by authorities less than five months before his death.

They had been selected by an adoption panel following an application process overseen by Cumbria Children’s Services Department.

After the verdict, John Readman, executive director for people at Cumbria County Council, said he was "deeply sorry" for Leiland-James' death.

In a statement, he said: "Adoption should have been the new beginning for Leiland.

"That was cruelly taken away from him by the person who should have cared for him and kept him safe.

"We are deeply sorry for Leiland's death, it should not have happened.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with his birth family and those who knew this little boy."

The 13-month-old child died of "catastrophic" head injuries.

Mr Readman says there will be an independent review into how the Castles were approved as adopters.

The findings of the review are set to be published in July.

He concluded: "Abuse of a child by adopters is almost unheard of and we are determined to do everything we can to prevent this happening again, here or anywhere else."

Concerns were raised in November 2021 that Laura Castle had said during a home visit that she did not love Leiland-James and was struggling to bond with him.

The following month, the Castles were told by a senior social worker she would not support any application to formally adopt Leiland-James at that stage and recommended further therapeutic parenting sessions.

The possibility of removing Leiland-James from their care was canvassed, but Laura Castle said her extended family loved him so he was “not going anywhere”.

Concerns remained about the lack of emotional bond, the court heard, and a review by social services was set to take place in the new year.

Laura Castle, 38, was found guilty of murdering Leiland-James at Preston Crown Court on Tuesday, and will be sentenced on Wednesday, 25 May.

Scott Castle, 35, was found not guilty of allowing the baby's death, and was also cleared of child cruelty.