Bipolar mum who strangled baby son to death at hospital unit will not be jailed
A bipolar mum who strangled her five-month-old baby son to death at a hospital unit will not be jailed, a judge has ruled.
Samantha Pink, 39, killed Connor Young at The Beeches, a mother and baby inpatient service at The Radbourne Unit, part of Royal Derby Hospital, on July 12.
The mother-of-two, who has suffered mental health problems all her adult life, pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility at Nottingham Crown Court last month.
In a victim impact statement, Connor’s father – Pink’s partner of 14 years – begged a judge not to jail her.
Pink, from Stenson Fields, Derby, has been handed an indefinite hospital order.
This means she will only be released back into the community when medical experts say she is well enough.
Last month Pink, a maths and business studies graduate, pleaded not guilty to murder, but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Mr Justice Baker QC, sentencing, said: “It is clear you were suffering a mental illness, namely bipolar affective disorder, exacerbated by childbirth and the stresses of bringing up a young baby.
“You did not disclose this at the time but you admitted you thought about strangling Connor in the days leading up (to the event).
“The reason you took the dreadful steps of strangling your son was due to you being overwhelmed by your mental condition.”
Mary Prior QC, prosecuting, said Pink has been suffering mental health conditions since 1999, leading to her being sectioned a number of times under the Mental Health Act.
She said the defendant moved to Derby and had a baby girl with her partner in March 2018.
Miss Prior said Connor was born earlier this year and Pink was admitted to the unit at her own request amid concerns about her mental health.
Around two weeks before the killing, Pink went missing and when she was found said she had intended to take her own life.
Outlining the day of Connor’s death, Miss Prior said: “Between 9am and 10am she was talkative and had an increased appetite and at the 10am check she was given lots of praise about how well she was doing.
“The strangulation took place between 11.45am and 12.05pm. The nurse went into the room and saw Connor sat with Miss Pink.
“Miss Pink said the strangling lasted 15 minutes. She said she started, stopped, and then started again.
“Staff and paramedics tried to save his life but they were not able to.
“When asked about it she replied: ‘I just can’t be a mum, I don’t know how people do it.’”
Miss Prior said Pink was arrested and taken into custody where she was assessed and asked what had happened.
She said Pink replied: “I know I have done a terrible thing, I have done something quite serious, I have been planning it for four days.”
Connor’s father fought back tears in the witness box as he read out his own victim personal statement.
In it, he said: “Connor was a lovely, happy, smiling baby.
“I have suffered greatly from what happened that morning, I never got to say goodbye to my little boy. The next time I saw him he was asleep.
“There’s no cure for this pain. I feel that I have had to watch helplessly as my family has fallen apart.
“And I have had the heartache of watching Sam, the woman I have loved for so long, turn into someone I did not recognise.
“I’ve been with her for 14 years. I know how much she is tormented by this, she cannot understand what has happened. I know how much she is hurting inside.”
Clive Stockwell QC, mitigating, asked the consultant psychiatrist who is currently treating Pink to speak at the sentencing hearing.
The medic said: “She is extremely unwell and there is no previous history of her showing any violence towards children.
“When she is feeling very unwell and she would have a child in her care that is when she would create a risk.
“She suffers a very severe depressive mental disorder, she is not a risk to any adults.
“She is very ill and requires ongoing assessment and treatment in a hospital like ours which is appropriate and available for her.”
Derbyshire Police said it would not be releasing a custody photograph of Pink.