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A mother who was suffering from severe post natal depression killed her two babies after stopping her medication because she was worried about its side effects while breast feeding, the Old Bailey heard today.
By Martin Evans, Crime Correspondent
11:45AM GMT 30 Oct 2012
Felicia Boots, 35, suffocated 9-week-old Mason and 14-month-old Lily-Skye just two weeks after the family, who are originally from Canada moved into a new £1.4 million home in south west London.
Her husband Jeffrey, a banker, discovered the bodies of the two children side by side on the floor of a walk-in wardrobe after returning home from work in May.
Today at the Old Bailey, Mrs Boots pleaded not guilty to murder but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Mrs Boots, a jewellery designer, was dressed in a black suit and white blouse and wept as she was asked to stand to enter pleas on the two charges.
Her voice shook as she replied in a Canadian-accent: “Not guilty to murder, but guilty to manslaughter because of diminished responsibility.”
Boots looked down and read from a piece of paper as she was asked to enter a plea to the second murder charge.
Giving the same answer, she wiped away tears with a handkerchief and sat down.
The judge in the case Mr Justice Fulford described her as a loving mother who has been suffering from a depressive disorder and whose judgement “was simply not functioning”.
Describing it as a tragic case he said a prison sentence was not appropriate and ordered that she be detained at a secure mental health unit.
Mr Justice Fulford said: “This is an almost indescribably sad case.
“Although the roots of Mrs Boots’ actions were profoundly tragic given the lost of two such young lives, what occurred was not as a result of what most people would regard as criminal activity.
“I unreservedly accept that what the defendant did to the two children she and her husband loved and nurtured, was solely the result of psychological and bio-physiological forces that were beyond her control.
“This case is the polar opposite of the appalling incidents of children neglect and cruelty that sometimes come before the courts.”
On the morning of the tragedy Mrs Boots had become “fixated and deluded” that her children were going to be taken away, the judge said.
The court heard how she had suffered post natal depression following the birth of her first child, Lily-Skye in March 2011.
She was prescribed anti-depressants and had begun to feel much better, the court heard.
But when she became pregnant with her son she became concerned about the effects the medication might have on him.
The court heard how Mrs Boots had stopped taking her medication because she was breast feeding and she was “irrationally worried about the consequences for him”.
Edward Brown QC, prosecuting said: “There is consistent evidence that Mrs Boots may have stopped taking the medication in the weeks, or days before the day in question, although to a degree she may have hidden this fact from others.”
She made an attempt on her own life after killing her children.
Mrs Boots’ husband was in court and submitted a statement to the court in support of her.
In a statement read out to the court, Mrs Boots said: “May 9 2012 is a day I will be eternally sorry for it should never have happened and troubles me deeper than anyone will ever know.
“Part of me will always be missing but just know that I am a good person. I was a good mum and I never meant this to happen. I am truly sorry.”
Mrs Boots was later detained under the Mental Health Act, 1983, after pleading guilty to two counts of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Mr Justice Fulford made the under section 37 of the act but did not make a restriction order – under sec 41 – which means she could be freed as soon as her condition improves.
The court heard Mr and Mrs Boots married in August 2007 and came to the UK from Canada in 2008.
“The relationship was a good one. There was no problem and it was a happy family, comfortably well off,” said Mr Brown.
The couple had recently moved to the address in Wandsworth and some of their belongings was still in packing cases.
Friends of Mrs Boots said she had been left ‘mentally crushed’ after the failure of a previous relationship in Canada. Her brother committed suicide four years ago.
After the birth of Lily-Skye on March 1 last year, she was diagnosed with moderately severe depression.
Her medication was increased and by the time she fell pregnant with Mason in the late summer she had recovered.
“Reports to her psychiatrist showed she was feeling improved and was feeling happy and positive about the prospect of a second child,” said Mr Brown.
“She decided to stop taking her medication. There was some reservation from the doctor but as she was so improved there was no significant concern.”
Mrs Boots said was worried about the effect the medication would have on her child both during pregnancy and later when breastfeeding.
She was told the medication was harmless but computer records show she was making a series of Google searches about her concerns in the weeks before the killings.
After Mason was born on February 28 this year friends and family began to become concerned that she was suffering from postnatal depression.
“She told someone the medication might affect the unborn child. She said she stopped taking the medicine without telling anyone,” said Mr Brown.
Mrs Boots also confided in her husband in early April that she was feeling unwell.
On April 12 she was prescribed antidepressants for the next 28 days, which would have lasted until May 11.
Examination of the pack revealed the pills for the days leading up to May 9 had been removed but Mr Brown said “the findings might be consistent with Mrs Boots deciding to hide the fact she had not taken medication.”
Her parents-in-law visited the house in the days before the killing and noticed that she was finding it increasingly difficult to carry out basic tasks.
On May 9 she was outwardly appearing better and texted a photo of Lily to her husband who was at work.
But when Mr Boots arrived home at 7.25pm he found the house in darkness and his wife sitting on the stairs hugging herself.
She told him not to go upstairs but he ran up to find his two children lying on the floor of a walk-in cupboard.
When police arrived she told them she had stopped taking her anti-depressants two weeks earlier and said repeatedly: “I don’t know why I did it.”
Boots, who appeared weak and unsteady on her feet, later explained that the killing took place at 2pm.
She had marks on her neck which suggested she had attempted to take her own life.
Her distressed husband made a comment that his wife was a good mother and he could not believe she had done such a thing.
Police found a handwritten note left near the bodies of the children, in which Mrs Boots questioned how she could have done it.
“She stated she was scared and so sorry and wanted to take her own life. She said she had started to fall apart a few weeks before,” said Mr Brown.
Reports from three psychiatrists all concluded she was suffering from a depressive illness which diminished her responsibility.
“She knew what she had done but did not understand why she had done it,” said one doctor, the court heard.
Mr Brown said: “This plainly is a tragic case. The Crown has closely examined the expert medical evidence and the authors of the reports are clear and agreed in their conclusions as to Mrs Boots’ condition as to the 9th of May this year and the reasons for her actions. Therefore it is not in the public interest to pursue the counts of murder.”