A woman has gone on trial accused of murdering the baby she and her husband planned to adopt.
Leiland-James Corkill was 13 months old and in the care of Laura Castle and her husband, Scott, when she died at her home in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
The couple deny abusing Leiland-James from August 21, 2020, the day he moved in with them, until he was rushed to the hospital with head injuries on January 6, 2021. He died the next day. .
A jury at Preston Crown Court read text messages between the couple apparently regretting the adoption a month after they arrived. “He is an absolute moaner and I totally regret doing this. I’m going to lose my mind,” Laura, 38, texted Scott on Sept. 23.
He added: “I need to stop hitting him because if I start I won’t stop at one point and it won’t get us anywhere and then I feel bad.”
Scott, 34, responded by calling the 13-month-old “a dick baby.”
Scott, who worked at BAE Systems in Barrow, denies causing or allowing Leiland-James’s death. Laura has pleaded guilty to manslaughter but denies murder.
He said the boy fell off the couch. But a pathologist concluded that Leiland-James had suffered a non-accidental traumatic head injury, which could have occurred when someone forcefully shook him.
Opening the case on Thursday, the prosecution’s lawyer, Michael Brady, QC, said Leiland-James was a “robust and resilient child” who had been cared for when he was born on December 21, 2019.
She initially lived with foster caretakers until the Castles were approved as potential adopters, and Leiland-James formally “surrendered” to the couple on August 22 for a trial period.
Laura later told a social worker that she did not love Leiland-James, the jury heard. She said that she was struggling to bond with him and that she and her husband felt as if they were “babysitting” him.
But unknown to social services, the court heard that she was assaulting the boy within five weeks of his arrival. “I just absolutely leather it, I can[’t] take this more, you’ll have to go,” Laura told Scott in a text message on September 24.
Scott responded by saying, “You are not an abusive parent, baby. No problem. Don’t say that. I think he’s a bit screwed up for us to handle xc.
“We’re going to drop everything. I don’t want you to have a mental breakdown. You are more important to me than him.
A month before Leiland-James’ death, Cumbria County Council’s adoption panel had agreed not to recommend an adoption “given problems with attachment”, Brady told the court. The couple were told they would not be able to permanently adopt Leiland-James “until more therapeutic work has been done.”
The night before Leiland-James’s death, Scott texted Laura suggesting that the boy could benefit from “a good hard knock.”
Brady told the jury: “It is the crown case that, in the context of frustration, arising from highly stressful domestic circumstances, including financial difficulties and an inability to bond with Leiland-James, Laura Castle’s frustration with Leiland-James, James turned into hostility as evidenced by her physical abuse of him that culminated in his murder.”
The case continues.