A woman with a history of mental illness who killed her four-year-old disabled daughter by drowning her in the bath has been convicted of murder.
Joanne Hill, 32, from Connah’s Quay in north Wales, admitted to police that she had killed Naomi Hill on 26 November 2007 by forcibly holding her under water in the bath at their home. After driving around with her in the car for eight hours she then took Naomi, who had mild cerebral palsy and needed to wear callipers, to a nearby hospital.
The case was heard during a two-week trial at Chester Crown Court. Hill denied murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. The court heard that she had a history of mental health problems, including a diagnosis of post-natal depression following Naomi’s birth, and had attempted suicide in 2000.
But the jury decided that she had made a deliberate and conscious decision to kill her daughter and returned a verdict of murder. Judge Elgan Edwards issued a life sentence with a minimum term of 15 years in jail.
In a statement, Naomi’s father, Simon Hill, said: “It has been said in court that Naomi suffered with cerebral palsy. This is not true. Naomi did not suffer at all. She lived life to the full and was an inspiration to us all. Naomi took everything in her stride and enjoyed doing everything that four-year-olds do, if only slightly slower.”
Following the sentence, Disability charity Scope warned that negative portrayals of disability were creating “shame and stigma”. Chair Alice Maynard added: “This means that the parents of disabled children don’t get the advice that they need to understand and deal positively with their child’s impairment or condition. Tragically, in this instance, this combination of factors proved lethal.”
The case prompted North Wales NHS Trust to carry out an interim review of the care and treatment Joanne Hill received prior to the incident. A spokesperson for the trust said that a “number of recommendations” had already been implemented to improve operational policies. He added that a full review of the case would be carried out by the Flintshire Safeguarding Children Board.
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