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Mother Admits Killing, Not Murdering, Autistic Son with a Belt

Glen FreaneyCardiff Crown Court has heard that Yvonne Freaney (49) admitted to killing her 11-year-old autistic son, Glen, hours after his body was found at the Sky Plaza Hotel, which is near Cardiff Airport, last May. She told police that she strangled him with a belt and then tried to kill herself. The mother is denying murder but pleading guilty to manslaughter.

The court was told this week that Freaney suffers from a long history of self-harm and domestic abuse, as well as that she was living in cluttered and dirty conditions. She left her husband last March and took Glen with her. They stayed in a series of hotels in the weeks after. She had been suffering from a building of pressure after the end of her marriage, and she wasn’t able to find anywhere for them to live.

Prosecutor Gregg Taylor QC said that Glen was severely autistic. Though he was generally well and fit and had a normal life expectancy, he was dependent on adult care. He still wore nappies and needed help getting dressed, washing up, eating and brushing his teeth. He had no verbal communication and relied on a picture computer exchange system, on which he would tap symbols and the computer would translate them. He could walk with difficulty with special boots, but could run and ride a bike.

Taylor continued that, when paramedics and police arrived at the Sky Plaza Hotel, they found Glen dead and Freaney bleeding from her wrists. She confessed to killing her son while being treated for her cuts. She was cited saying that she strangled Glen, using her belt. He was severely autistic, she continued, but now he’s in heaven and won’t be autistic anymore. She understood that she had to do it, she explained, as no one else would care for him, so she sent him to heaven. He was laughing when she strangled him, she added.

Freaney had 3 other children with her husband and left a number of letters that were intended to be read after she committed suicide. To her 14-year-old son, she wrote that he may not understand what’s happened, but he should think of the events as her finally getting rest. She wished him good luck and was sure he will have a brilliant future and that she would be very proud of him.

The court heard how Freaney’s marriage had a lot of problems. Taylor said that they had issues that revolved around employment, alcohol consumption on both their parts and violence from both of them. Police were called to the family’s home several times after alleged domestic violence incidents. The mother was seen by doctors many times for injuries, but she never pressed charges. Social services also got involved after police said their home was uninhabitable. The prosecutor described the household as having trash thrown from the floor to the ceiling, with police said it was the most cluttered home they’d ever seen.

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