Page last updated at 16:05 GMT, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 17:05 UK

Mother 'held girl's head in bath'

Joanne Hill
Joanne Hill told the officer how she had driven round with her dead daughter

A court has heard how a mother described holding her disabled daughter's head under water in the bath for up to 10 minutes until she died.

Extracts of police interviews with Joanne Hill, 32, of Connah's Quay, Flintshire, were read out to her murder trial at Chester Crown Court.

Mrs Hill admits killing her daughter, Naomi, but denies murder on grounds of diminished responsibility.

Jurors heard how she drank glasses of wine before drowning the four-year-old.

It is alleged Mrs Hill, an advertising saleswoman, killed Naomi because she could not cope with the girl's mild cerebral palsy.

The jury has been told that on 26 November last year, Mrs Hill collected her daughter from a childminder and took her home, where she placed her in a bath and held her head under water for up to 10 minutes.

Glass of wine

Mrs Hill then dressed Naomi and put her in a car before driving around for eight hours until she arrived at a local hospital carrying the dead girl in her arms.

Interviewed by Det Con Andrew Roberts, of Cheshire Police, Mrs Hill said she had known her actions would cause Naomi's death.

She said: "I picked up Naomi from the childminder and took her home.

"I put the TV on and she was watching it. I ran the bath and had a glass of wine.

"Then I put her in the bath and held her under water.

Naomi Hill
Naomi wore callipers after being diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy

"I just put her in then pushed her head straight under," she said.

Asked by the detective how long she had held Naomi under water, she replied she was not sure, adding "about five or 10 minutes".

He asked her what she had been thinking about at the time, and she said she did not know.

Det Con Roberts said: "Did you understand that if you held her head under water then she would die?" Mrs Hill replied: "Yes."

The jury heard she also told the police officer that she had been taking medication for depression and has suicidal thoughts.

In the weeks before Naomi's deaths, Mrs Hill also said she suffered sleepless nights.

She said after she killed the girl she dressed her and placed her in the child seat in her car along with a bottle of wine.

'Dark thoughts'

Mrs Hill said: "I needed to get out of the house because my husband said he was coming back at 7.30pm."

The detective asked her: "Why did you want to get out of the house before your husband returned?"

She replied: "Because of what I had done."

The jury was later played a tape recording of a police interview in which they heard Mrs Hill's description of the drowning in her own voice.

In her second police interview, Mrs Hill said she had suggested to her husband that Naomi should be put up for foster care or adoption because: "I just thought she would have a better life".

Det Con Roberts also questioned Mrs Hill about the amount of alcohol she had consumed that day.

She admitted it was a problem and the cause of conflict between her and her husband Simon Hill.

She told the officer she had drunk two glasses of wine at lunchtime that day, a third after she finished work and a fourth when she arrived home with her daughter.

Asked about where she went on the eight-hour drive, she told the police officer: "I was confused. Well, obviously my state of mind wasn't all there."

During this time, Mr Hill sent his wife a text message asking: "Is Naomi safe?"

Mrs Hill did not reply.

She also described Naomi as a "happy, headstrong and cheeky child, with lots of friends at school" and told Det Con Roberts that she loved her daughter.

"People might not think I did, but I did," she said.

The trial has previously heard Mr Hill say his wife could not accept Naomi's disability.

"She thought it was her fault when she was depressed. She had dark thoughts, did Joanne, and thought she was being punished in some way," said Mr Hill, a fleet manager for a car rental firm.

The trial continues.


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