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Gillian Sharpe reports from the High Court
"The court heard Campbell was disturbed at the time of the killing"
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Prof Malcolm Hill, child welfare specialist
"In this case it appears the system did fail and more should have been done"
 real 28k

BBC Scotland's Sandy Murray
"Glasgow City Council say no concern had been raised about the welfare of the mother's two children"
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Friday, 18 February, 2000, 20:15 GMT
Mother laughed at fatal fall

Flats in Dalmarnock The tragedy happened in the Dalmarnock area of Glasgow

A mother laughed as she threw her son to his death from the 14th floor of a tower block in Glasgow, a court has heard.

Allison Campbell shouted that there was a fire in her bedroom and her two sons ran through to her.

There was no fire but she picked up six-year-old Derek and threw him from a balcony as he pleaded: "Mum, don't do that."

Raymond Doherty QC, prosecuting said: "As she did so she was reported to have been laughing. When Derek landed on the ground she began to cry."

View from a flat window The boy fell 14 floors to his death
The balcony was screened off by netting to prevent anything falling to the ground, but there was an 18 inch by 18 inch hole in it.

Police were called to Campbell's flat in Dalmarnock by neighbours on the second floor who heard the little boy thump to the ground in the early hours of 27 October last year.

Derek's brother, Ross, nine, also ran out to raise the alarm.

Attempts were made to resuscitate the child but he was pronounced dead in Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

Fires in flat

By the time police arrived at Campbell's flat they could smell smoke.

Police found two fires in the flat, one in Derek's cot mattress and the other in a bedsheet from one of the two single beds in her bedroom.

Campbell, who was originally charged with murder, pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of culpable homicide.

Donald Findlay Donald Findlay QC: Reserved plea
Mr Doherty told Lord Penrose that the Crown was reducing the charge because at the time of the tragedy Campbell was suffering from diminished responsibility.

Afterwards she was interviewed by two psychiatrists for the Crown and one for the defence. They all came to the same opinion.

Mr Doherty said that Campbell was married in 1993 but the relationship with her husband ended in 1997/98.

He revealed she had a history of alcohol and drug abuse and that she suffered prior periods of depression and received medical treatment.

'Great tragedy'

In the two days leading up to the tragedy Allison was seen by many people who came into contact with her as appearing to be behaving in a disturbed way.

Donald Findlay QC said it was a case of great tragedy and that he would reserve his plea in mitigation.

Lord Penrose ordered Campbell to be detained at Carstairs State Mental Hospital for 12 weeks during which psychiatrists will evaluate her condition before she returns to the High Court in Edinburgh for sentence.

The case has once again brought the spotlight on the role of social workers.

The Campbell children were known to Glasgow City Council's social work department but there was no concern about their welfare.

Professor Malcolm Hill, a child welfare specialist at Glasgow University, said after the case: "There are a number of parents with drug and drink problems who look after their children and it would be hard to generalise and say all those children should be taken away.

"In this case the system did fail and it appears more should have been done.

"Where possible there must be more time and resources given to staff to manage this situation."

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27 Oct 99 |  Scotland
Mother in court over tower block death

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