Page last updated at 16:06 GMT, Monday, 22 September 2008 17:06 UK

Killer mother's 'deliberate' act

Naomi Hill
Naomi suffered from mild cerebral palsy

A mother killed her four-year-old disabled daughter because she saw it as the solution to her own problems, a jury has been told.

Joanne Hill, 32, admits killing Naomi, at their home in Connah's Quay, Flintshire, but denies murder due to diminished responsibility.

In his closing speech, prosecutor Michael Chambers said Mrs Hill could not cope with Naomi's disability.

She had mild cerebral palsy which caused her walking and hearing issues.

Michael Chambers QC told the jury at Chester Crown Court Mrs Hill made a "deliberate and conscious" decision to kill her daughter because she was disabled and could not cope with it.

"It must have been only a few days before the defendant killed Naomi that she was saying to her husband that she wanted to have Naomi adopted or at least fostered by their childminder," he said.

"By saying she wanted to have Naomi adopted she was rejecting her.

He added Mrs Hill's husband, Simon Hill had said during the trial his wife had never accepted Naomi.

"Simon told you that in the weeks preceding the killing the defendant was drinking heavily and it caused a deterioration in their marriage," Mr Chambers said.

On 26 November, 2007 Mrs Hill, who has a history of mental health problems, collected Naomi from a childminder and took her home, where she ran a bath and drowned her.

She then dressed the little girl and put her in her car with a bottle of wine before driving around for eight hours.

Joanne Hill
Joanne Hill drowned her daughter in the bath

The following day, Mrs Hill arrived at the Countess of Chester hospital with her dead daughter in her arms, shouting for help.

The defence argued she was guilty of manslaughter because she was suffering an "abnormality of the mind" when she killed Naomi.

The defence said the abnormality was a form of atypical affective disorder, resulting in severe depression and "disassociation" of emotions.

Mr Chambers added: "We know on the Thursday before the killing (the defendant) was drinking and sleeping with another man.

"We say that the evidence of what she did on the day and night of Naomi's killing, evidence of what she said and did, shows that she was rational.

"She clearly knew what she was doing, this was a deliberate and conscious act.

'Appalling illness'

"She killed Naomi because she was disabled. She saw it as the solution to her own problems. She sought to justify it by saying Naomi was better off dead.

"This was clearly misguided and fundamentally flawed but that does not mean she was mentally ill."

Mrs Hill is being held on remand at the Ty Llewellyn medium secure hospital unit near Bangor.

Stephen Riordan QC, for the defence, outlined Mrs Hill's troubled mental health history which began at the age of 17 when she saw a child psychiatrist for depression and compulsive thoughts.

He described Naomi's death as the tragic consequence of an appalling illness.

"This illness, which from time to time Joanne Hill has suffered, has dominated her life whether she liked it or not," he said.

"It is a disease that needs treatment and when it doesn't get treatment it gets worse," Mr Riordan added.

To convince the jury to return a verdict of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, the defence must prove Mrs Hill was suffering an abnormality of mind when she killed Naomi.

"Do we see the workings of a normal mind in the seven or eight hour period following the killing of Naomi?" Mr Riordan said.

"Or do we see, everywhere we turn, evidence of an abnormal mind in this case?"

Responding to the prosecution case, Mr Riordan said: "How did it solve her problems?

"What kind of tortured, abnormal mind comes up with that sort of thing?

"Who with a normal mind, who has just resolved her problems, then dresses her dead child up and then drives around stopping to drink wine?

"What normal mind does that?"

The Recorder of Chester, Judge Elgan Edwards QC, began summing up.

He said the jury faced a hard decision to make "soft options are not available here," he told them.

He added: "the verdict cannot be anything other than guilty of murder or guilty of manslaughter."

The trial was adjourned until Tuesday.


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