April 2011

Woman jailed for killing autistic son, 12, with bleach

A mother has been jailed for killing her 12-year-old autistic son by making him drink bleach.

Ajit Singh-Mahal was found dead at the family home in Barking, east London, in February.

Satpal Kaur-Singh, 44, pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility. She had denied the boy’s murder.

Kaur-Singh, who also drank bleach on the day of the killing, was jailed for seven years at the Old Bailey.

Judge Peter Beaumont, the Recorder of London, told her: “I recognise how difficult Ajit was to care for.

“Your deteriorating mental health robbed you of proper insight into what was going wrong and erected real obstacles between you and people and the agencies that were trying so hard to help you.”

He continued: “You faced the prospect of Ajit being taken away from you, but you killed him.

“You were, in my judegment, making a statement, without any consideration of his interests.”

Richard Whittam QC, prosecuting, said: “This is a case of great tragedy.”

Ajit “was dependent on his mother for all his needs”, could not speak so had trouble communicating, and had difficulty getting around outdoors.

The child was killed with Domestos just hours after Kaur-Singh refused to co-operate with council staff at a meeting over his care.

When paramedics found him he was lying on a sofa, not breathing, with no pulse.

He had corrosive burn marks around his mouth, chin and neck.

Singh was treated with charcoal and milk for the bleach she had drunk. She told a paramedic she had been thinking about “doing this” for years

Social workers at Barking and Dagenham Council had concerns about Manchester-born Singh in the months before she killed her son, the court heard.

She was said to have appeared calm in the meeting with council staff.

But hours later she rang 999 to say: “I’ve just murdered my son and I’ve tried to kill myself.”

A council spokeswoman said: “Barking and Dagenham Council’s thoughts, first and foremost, continue to be with the Singh family.

“The council contributed to an independent serious case review to look into all details of this case and to address lessons arising.

“Barking and Dagenham safeguarding children board will publish the findings of that independent review in due course.”

David Hislop QC, defending, said: “This was a woman who loved her son too much. The belief she held, because of her mental disorder, was that hers was an act of mercy.”