Mother convicted of killing her baby daughter spared jail — (The Guardian)

SSRI Ed note: Mom not sleeping, takes only one or two tablets of antidepressant, loses patience with baby, kills her. Judge imposes restictions on future contact with kids.

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The Guardian

Press Association

Tuesday 12 November 2013 12.41 GMT

Natasha Sultan admits killing six-week-old Amelia-Lilly in ‘maelstrom of fatigue and mental disorder’ from postnatal depression

A mother who admitted killing her baby daughter while she was “in a maelstrom of fatigue and mental disorder” caused by postnatal depression has been spared jail.

Natasha Sultan, 21, sobbed as she was sentenced on Tuesday for infanticide over the death of six-week-old Amelia-Lilly in October last year.

Judge Jeremy Richardson QC told her: “You are an utterly broken woman who will have to live with this for the remainder of your life, whether it’s short or long.”

The judge gave her a three-year supervision order and added: “If you should ever have any other children, the social services department will plainly be involved and it may be that you are not permitted to bring up any future child given what has happened.”

Hull crown court heard how Amelia-Lilly was taken to hospital from her home in Welton Grove, Hull, on 8 October with a head injury and later died.

Sultan eventually admitted inflicting the injury on her daughter. Richardson said he accepted the balance of her mind had been disturbed at the time.

The defendant was due to go on trial for murder on Monday but the prosecution accepted her guilty plea to a charge of infanticide.

The judge told Sultan: “For the remainder of your life you will have to live with the fact you killed your six-week-old daughter. That burden will never be lifted.”

He told the court that Amelia-Lilly was a much wanted child but he said it was “plain” that following the birth, Sultan suffered from postnatal depression and could not sleep.

A psychiatrist said this was a “moderate form of depression”.

The court heard how Sultan went to her GP and was prescribed antidepressants, but she did not take the full dose.

“It seems there was some reluctance to do so based upon a feeling of shame that you were unable to cope as a mother,” Richardson said.

“It is self-evident you were very tired and suffering from the effects of untreated postnatal depression when the events of the night of October 7, 2012 took place.

“You were exhausted by the demands of constant night-time care for your baby, who at that stage was only six weeks old.”

The judge said Sultan killed Amelia-Lilly “by deliberately impacting her head upon a hard surface”.

He said: “During the first feeding session there was a sudden explosion of violence whilst your mind was disturbed.”

Judge Richardson told her: “There will be many parents of infants who appreciate the situation in which you found yourself. The sudden explosion of violence was due to your unbalanced mind derived from postnatal depression.

“What is harder to understand, however, is your conduct afterwards. You went to bed having visited serious violence upon your daughter. You neglected her obvious and urgent need for medical attention. You simply went to bed.”

The judge outlined how Sultan then lied to doctors about what happened and repeatedly lied to investigating police.

“You even went through the charade of endeavouring to show how the accident, as you then called it, might have happened,” he said.

The judge went on: “I also will not lose sight of the fact of your disturbance of mind as revealed in the psychiatric report. It is clear you were in a maelstrom of fatigue and mental disorder when you acted as you did throughout the whole episode.”

He said the court had heard how Sultan was “a loving mother who deeply wanted a child and adored your daughter”.

The maximum sentence for infanticide is life imprisonment.

Richardson said there were no sentencing guidelines to help him, or any relevant previous cases on which he could base his sentence.

He said he believed the case had “passed the custody threshold” but he said: “However, you are an entirely broken woman and your disturbance of mind at the time, coupled with your guilty plea, enables me to take a different course.

“A short prison sentence would be inappropriate. A long prison sentence would be unjust.”

The judge barred Sultan from engaging with children in regulated activities and disqualified her from working with children.

Sultan was still crying as she left court comforted by family members.