A 29-year-old paranoid schizophrenic who told her child ‘mummy is going to help you before the bad men get you’ has been found guilty of suffocating her three year-old-son.
At Craigavon Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, Justice Weir said that Lisburn woman Michelle Owens ‘bitterly regrets’ killing her son Brendan in July 2013.
“That is something she will live with for the rest of her life.” he said.
The court heard how Michelle Owens placed a black and white pillow case over her son’s head before administering her full weight onto the boy’s face.
According to Ciaran Murphy QC, acting for the prosecution, Ms Owens had contacted social services in May 2013, stating that she wanted to take her own life.
It was then that Brendan was taken into care by Ms Owens’ mother.
The court heard that on July 3, 2013, Ms Owens bought a bottle of gin and a bottle of cola and later that day Ms Owen’s mother brought Brendan to her.
The next day, July 4, an ambulance was called to the Trinity Terrace home of Ms Owens at 2.15am.
The ambulance crew found Brendan’s body which was ‘blue in colour’ and ‘cold to touch’ on the floor of an upstairs room, with his mother kneeling beside him.
During police questioning the boy’s mother claimed that she and Brendan had gone to bed at 9.00pm the previous evening, and she had awoken to find her son’s cold leg against hers in the bed.
The next day Ms Owens signed herself into a psychiatric unit in Lagan Valley Hospital.
It was there that she told staff that she was “worried she would lose her son to social services and that they would put him into a home where he would be abused, and she did what she did to protect her son and said she was sorry for what she did.”
She was later arrested and charged with murder.
Following examination at Knockbracken Healthcare Centre in Belfast doctors unanimously came to the decision that she was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.
Ms Owens’ defence QC told Mr Justice Weir: “This is a tragic situation given the loss of her son and also for Michelle Owens who was a loving mother to her son.
“This is something that she will have to live with for the rest of her life and she has expressed that in writing in a letter to the court.”
Mr Justice Weir told Ms Owen that she would be placed under a psychiatric hospital order with no restrictions or limit on time.