New information has emerged in the case of the murder of a child after a few months of a “trial period” before being adopted by a married couple.
The incident occurred the evening before the adoption authority decided to visit the family to return him after a report concluded that it was better for him to be adopted by another family.
According to the British newspaper, “Daily Mail”, new footage showed the accused wife, Laura Castle, 38, making strange facial expressions in the hospital where the child victim was lying.
The accused lady
Castle was convicted of killing 13-month-old Leland James Corkill last week after the court discovered messages exchanged between her and her husband saying that she had “flogged” the child to silence him and that she was trying to prevent herself from hitting him.
In other videos, the baby is heard crying as she tries to “silence” him. In another shot, he is wiping away tears as he sits in a baby rocking chair.
The child died the next day after doctors discovered that his heart was not beating and that he had a head injury, which Laura Castle said he sustained by falling off a sofa.
But the court discovered that the accused had searched on the Internet for what might cause a brain hemorrhage while her child was in the hospital, when the truth began to emerge.
The court also heard a social worker who reported her concerns about the adoptive mother after she described the child as “lazy” and “large”.
Leland’s start in life has not been a happy one since his birth, as he was taken into the care of Cumbria County Council just two days after his birth on December 21, 2019 and placed with another family temporarily until an adoptive family is eventually found.
Charlotte Day, the woman who took care of the baby for the first eight months of his short life, said Leland James was a “happy, cheerful kid”. He enjoyed bouncing around in the play chair, hugging and being carried. “But he would cry when he was put into his seat for lunch because he was well aware of his daily routine.”
He started crying slowly, losing weight as well, which eventually led to his diagnosis, a narrowing of the small intestine that prevents milk and food from reaching the stomach.
After he underwent surgery, he was healthy again and started growing normally and became a big and healthy baby.
There was apparently good news in May 2020 when he found a suitable family to adopt him, the Castle family from Barrow, an industrial town on the coast of Cumbria.
Scott and Laura Castle wanted to have a baby soon after they met on Christmas Eve in 2005. But it wasn’t easy, and Laura’s fertility problems led to her depression and her leaving her job in a nursing home.
The couple had long been considering adoption and the process officially began in 2019, when they finally received the call that they had found a potential son, Leland James.
All members of the Castle family underwent interviews, visits and training, and passed tests by social workers.
Day said she was thrilled when they came to visit her and baby Leland in July.
The following month, the baby moved in with the Kassels, and there were high hopes that the then eight-month-old had found his permanent family. But those hopes did not last long.
The couple said they suffered a lot because Leland James cried a lot, especially at night, and that they could not build a relationship with the child.
“I didn’t think he liked us,” according to the husband at Preston Crown Court.
Laura Castle was doing most of the parenting role because her husband worked nights in a factory.
In the weeks following Leland James’ arrival, she would send multiple messages complaining about their son and saying that she was trying hard to stop herself from hitting him, but that she might one day do so.
In court, the couple described the child in strong terms, with Laura claiming that the lashing of the child’s back equaled one blow to his leg or hand, and that it was intended to frighten him rather than harm him.
Castle used terms such as “devil seed” in an attempt to add some humor to what she says.
They said they intended to raise the child the way their parents did, and used corporal punishment even though they agreed to follow Cumbria County Council rules that do not tolerate corporal punishment of children.
The wife said that she tried the educational method imposed by the council, but it was not always successful.
In November, concerns were raised when Castle said she did not feel in love with Leland James, and in December, they noted that the couple “are not happy with everything the child does”, but there were no concerns about the child’s safety, as she did not appear on His body has bruises or suspicious marks.
Although it wasn’t all bad, the family said they had good days too, but with each step forward, the couple felt like they were taking two steps back, they told the jurors.
They discussed ending the adoption process, but the couple said they honestly couldn’t hand over the baby and that their family members really fell in love with the baby.
Leland’s first birthday was celebrated with joy, and the celebration of Christmas (Christmas) came four days later, and the family took pictures in which they appeared happy and happy.
She was still getting some letters from Laura Castle to her husband complaining about her inability to cope and criticizing the mood of the child, and he too would reply in similar terms, saying that his wife was not bad and that it was the boy who was ruining things.
On 6 January, Castle came home after 6 a.m. and fell asleep with a face mask and earplugs.
Within two hours of his sleep, his wife woke him up, with the corpse of the child in her palms.
She said he fell off the sofa, lost consciousness, slowed his breathing and started shivering in his limbs.
The same story was repeated to the paramedics who rushed to their home and the doctors at Furness General Hospital and then Alder Hey Children’s Hospital where Leland James was taken for urgent care.
Radiographs showed severe brain injuries, swelling and bleeding, and the 13-month-old was pronounced dead at around 3 p.m. on January 7.
Laura Castle repeated the claim of the child fell off the sofa to the police, but by then, her lies had been exposed in light of the findings of the pathologists who examined Leland James’ body.
His little body showed many signs of “shaken baby” syndrome (when a parent cries without stopping, shakes them vigorously to punish and calm them, causing a concussion, or when the child is hit on the head even with a harmless object, such as a pillow for example).
It is now called ‘traumatic head trauma’.
There was significant bleeding in his brain and eyes, damage to his spine and a skin tag on his neck.
Given its age and size, it is unlikely that shaking alone would cause these injuries, possibly as a result of hitting the head with a piece of furniture, for example.
On the day her trial was scheduled to begin, Laura Castle admitted to the inadvertent killing, saying she wanted “justice” for her young son. She said that she shook Leland to keep him from crying, that she was tired of his screaming and his noise, and that he hit his head against the arm of the sofa.
Prosecutors said that what happened was even more horrific, as the neighbors heard a strong thumping sound without hearing the screams of an infant.
He added that Laura Castle lost her nerve when the child spit a cookie out of his mouth, so she picked him up and hit his head hard against a piece of furniture.
Laura Castle admitted to killing him but denied that she intended to cause him any serious harm or kill him.
Her lawyers argued that she lost her mind at that moment and rocked her baby to frighten and calm him, but she never intended what happened.
They said she would forever be known as an unintentional child killer but should not be categorized as a murderer.
The jury disagreed and found her guilty of one count of murder and one count of abusiveness against Leland, but found she not guilty of two other counts of child cruelty.
The court found her husband innocent of causing or permitting his death and of two counts of child cruelty.
The husband cried as he told the court that he was “sad and devastated” to hear his wife’s confession to the murder, after the matter remained hidden from him until the moment she was convicted of manslaughter.
“She is the love of my life and I never thought she would lie to me,” he said, wiping tears from his eyes, as his wife sobbed loudly in the dock a short distance from him.
Social workers had some concerns about the continued adoption of the child by the Castle family, and a review was due in early January, but Leland James was killed before that day.