A mother who drowned and burned her four-year-old daughter as part of a "sacrifice" has been cleared of murder by reason of insanity. Carly Ann Ha
A mother who drowned and burned her four-year-old daughter as part of a “sacrifice” has been cleared of murder by reason of insanity.
Carly Ann Harris, 38, was found not guilty of murdering Amelia Brooke Harris at their home in south Wales following a trial at Newport Crown Court.
Jurors heard how she had suffered a mental breakdown which led her to believe she was saving the world.
On Monday, she was sentenced to a hospital order without a time limit.
A “special verdict” was returned after members of the jury heard from psychiatrists from both the prosecution and defence.
The medical professionals both agreed the woman was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.
Harris from Trealaw, Tonypandy, denied murder and manslaughter.
In a two-day trial, the court heard there was no dispute the mother had killed her child or about the events leading up to the girl’s death.
Amelia was found by her teenage brother on 8 June. She had been wrapped in a sheet and placed on a table in the family’s garden.
Neighbours heard screaming and went into the street to find Harris’s older children visibly distressed.
Megan Griffiths, who lives nearby, said she saw Harris standing in the front garden looking “dazed” as the defendant told her: “God will be with her. The angels have taken her.”
She called the police and went into Harris’s back garden to find Amelia’s charred remains lying on a coffee table and covered with a sheet.
Harris told police when they arrived: “The angels told me to do it. Just arrest me. It’s OK.”
Jurors were told one of Harris’s two sons had said his mother had “not been well” for about six weeks before the incident.
Pathologist Dr Richard Jones found Amelia had died from drowning and was already dead when she was set alight.
Although Harris had taken “small amounts” of amphetamines before the incident, experts agreed the mother had not been suffering from a drug-induced psychosis.
Dr Arden Tomison said Harris was suffering from an “abnormality of mental function which substantially impaired her ability to form a rational judgement”.
He said Harris appeared to have experienced “paranoid and religious delusions” and believed she needed to kill her daughter as part of a test from God, who would then return Amelia to her.
When Harris was examined a month ago, she was still in firm belief that she had to kill her child to protect her and save the world, the court was told.
Despite efforts to control her psychosis at a secure institution, Dr Tomison said she still believed there had been a “terrible mistake”.
He said: “She could not understand why she was being subjected to psychological treatment. She was very sure she had been instructed by God.”
Dr Phillip Joseph said Harris had suffered from schizophrenia after a urinary tract infection in 2014. He believed the woman’s abuse of amphetamines could have triggered a psychotic episode.
Dr Tomison said it was “possible” but maintained it was “the least likely of the options”.
Sentencing, Mr Justice Picken called it a “deeply sad case” and added: “A young girl rich in promise met her death at the hands of her own mother in the most horrific manner.”
Outside court, Harris’s mother Jacquie Harris said she was “devastated and beyond words”.