Christina Robinson: Jury finds mother guilty of cruelty and murder of three-year-old son Dwelaniyah

Christina Robinson has been found guilty of cruelty to and the murder of her son Dwelaniyah. Credit: Durham Police

* Warning - this article contains distressing details about child cruelty and murder

A jury has found a mother guilty of murdering her three-year-old son by shaking him so violently she caused a fatal brain injury.

Christina Robinson denied murdering her son Dwelaniyah Robinson at the family home in Bracken Court, Ushaw Moor, Durham, in November 2022.

The 30-year-old was also found guilty of four child cruelty offences, which happened in the weeks leading up to his death.

During the three-week trial at Newcastle Crown Court, the prosecution set out how Robinson deliberately scalded the little boy as a punishment, how she hit him with spoons, slapped him and beat him with a bamboo cane, how she did not seek medical attention for his burns, and how she neglected him by leaving him alone at home.

Robinson, who represented herself after parting with her legal team, told the jury in her closing speech on Tuesday 19 March: “Please do not find me guilty for something I have not done.”

But on Thursday a jury found her guilty of all charges.

Christina Robinson denied all charges throughout the trial. Credit: Durham Police

The trial heard in the weeks prior to Dwelaniyah's, his mother had deliberately immersed him in scalding water, causing severe burns that would have caused excruciating pain.

She treated his injuries herself and did not seek medical help as safeguarding concerns would have been obvious if a health worker saw him.

Robinson, a member of the Black Hebrew Israelite religion, admitted hitting the little boy with a bamboo cane but claimed she was following a Bible scripture which advised the use of the rod for the “correction” of children.

She told Newcastle Crown Court her reason to use the cane was that the youngster was messing around with his food.

The defendant, originally from Tamworth, Staffordshire, took more than 20 minutes before dialling 999, first speaking to her husband on the phone despite him serving with the RAF 240 miles away, and then using Google to look at how to resuscitate a child.

When the emergency services arrived, Robinson appeared calm as she explained her version of events to a police officer while medics worked desperately on Dwelaniyah.

Despite their efforts at the scene Dwelaniyah could not be saved and probably died at the house, although further attempts to resuscitate him were made in hospital.

A post-mortem examination revealed he had been the victim of a series of assaults and had sustained a number of non-accidental injuries.

Dwelaniyah was found to have up to 20 per cent burns and more than 60 marks across his body. Credit: Durham Police

Richard Wright KC, prosecuting, said: “In other words, somebody had been deliberately hurting this little boy and had been doing so over a period of time.

“That person was his mother, the defendant Christina Robinson.”

'Campaign of violence for pretty wrongs'

In his closing speech, Mr Wright told the court: “He was subjected to a campaign of violence and cruelty by his mother for petty wrongs.”

Her husband, Dwelaniyah’s father, Gabriel Adu-Appau was away from the family home when his son was repeatedly injured.

He did not play any role in the trial.

His wife was using a sperm donor to try to conceive and, in October 2022, had also made contact with a man named Chisom Innocent Onoja using a dating app.

When she became pregnant, Robinson was in regular contact with health professionals, although she was not willing to get treatment for her son’s injuries.

A cane, which was found in the house, was used by Robinson to hit Dwelaniyah and was found to contain his blood. Credit: Durham Police

Mr Justice Garnham will pass sentence on 24 May, giving time to the defendant to seek legal representation after she parted with her team just before the end of the trial.

He thanked the jury, some of whom were visibly upset, for their “obvious care and attention”, and excused them from further service for 20 years.

The judge said: “I know from looking at you, this has been a stressful process, you need to get away and do something else, and think about something more cheerful.

“I am extremely grateful for all you have done.”

'A child's life is precious'

Speaking after the verdict, Detective Chief Inspector Simon Turner, Senior Investigating Officer for Operation Aruana at Durham Constabulary, said Robinson had created a web of lies to cover up her unnecessary violence.

“A child’s life is precious,” he said. “Dwelaniyah Robinson had his life sadly taken from him, at just three years of age, having been beaten and abused at the hands of his own mother.

“She tragically subjected him to repeated lashings with a cane, and submerged him in scalding hot water, resulting in nearly 20 per cent burns.

“Even after this horrific abuse she failed to seek treatment, leaving him in significant pain. Just weeks later whilst still suffering, he was then subject to a fatal head injury.

“Christina Robinson lied from the outset, and I am pleased the jury has seen through her lies and convicted her today."

This is the moment Durham Police arrested Christina Robinson, initially on suspicion of neglect

Det Chf Insp Turner continued: “This has been a truly horrific case, that has affected everyone involved. I would like to thank our investigation team for their dedication and commitment to get justice for Dwelaniyah.

“My thoughts are with those who truly cared about Dwelaniyah. Sadly, nothing can bring him back, but hopefully today’s verdict will provide some closure and allow them to grieve.”

A spokesperson for the Durham Safeguarding Children Partnership, said: “This is a distressing case and the Durham Safeguarding Children Partnership is committed to learning from the tragedy of Dwelaniyah’s suffering and death.

"A Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review has been conducted, led by an independent author, and the report will be published in due course.”

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Every child deserves a happy and safe childhood, and the pain and suffering inflicted on Dwelaniyah by his mother before she violently took his life is heartbreaking. Our thoughts go out to all those who knew and loved this little boy.

“All of us have a responsibility to look out for children, and to speak up for them when they might not be able to.

"We would encourage anyone with concerns about a child’s safety and wellbeing to visit the NSPCC website or speak to our Helpline for guidance. If a child is in immediate danger, always phone 999.”

Robinson will be sentenced on 24 May.

Anyone who has concerns about the welfare of a child should contact Durham Constabulary on 101, or 999 in an emergency, your local children’s social care team or the NSPCC.

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