A woman who suffered from a personality disorder and stabbed her toddler son to death in Co Dublin has been sentenced to five years in prison.
Hazel Waters (47), of Ridge Hall, Ballybrack, admitted killing Muhammad Hassan Khan (2) between October 15th and 16th, 2014.
Her plea of guilty to manslaughter was accepted by the Central Criminal Court and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, passing sentence, said the disorder meant her responsibility for the killing was diminished.
The judge noted that Waters’ treating doctor at the Central Mental Hospital said she had only superficially engaged with doctors regarding her son’s killing. Her doctor described Waters as “evasive and guarded”.
Mr Justice McCarthy said the appropriate sentence would be eight to 10 years but taking into account her guilty plea, he reduced that to seven years with two suspended. This was backdated to October 16th, 2014, when she first went into custody.
Waters entered a bond that for four years after her release she will continue to receive medical treatment deemed necessary by the probation services.
The court also heard that on the day of the killing Waters sent a text message to her adult son, Jessie, saying: “Hassan is a fake child . . . They are making people and children to look the same.” She had also claimed that the toddler and her sister were “clones”. Waters later said she did not remember sending the texts.
The alarm was raised when, later that day, Waters arrived at her sister-in-law’s house without Hassan and could not say where he was. She said that “they” had taken him but was unable to say who they were or where he had gone. Waters, who had converted to Islam, her husband’s faith, was extremely devout but was not wearing her hijab.
Her sister-in-law called gardaí, who went to her home and entered through an unlocked door. They found the apartment in disarray and Hassan dead.
A postmortem showed he had suffered multiple wounds to his neck from a pair of scissors. Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis identified two wounds, one 10cm deep, that caused the boy's death. When gardaí interviewed Waters she said she could not remember harming and would never do so but she did not know what had happened to him.
Det Sgt Joe O'Hara agreed with Brendan Grehan SC, defending, that Waters had been married to a man named Saleem Khan. The relationship was sometimes violent and she had taken a barring order out against him after he took Hassan away. Gardaí and the social services became involved with the family as a result of that incident.
In the weeks before the killing, Waters' family had become concerned about her mental health. Dr Brenda Wright of the Central Mental Hospital wrote a report about Waters on behalf of the prosecution that suggested she had a mental-health issue for some years.
However, Dr Wright said there was insufficient evidence to say whether she qualified for section 5 of the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act.
Dr Wright said she could not make that assessment because Waters claims to have no memory of the killing and therefore her state of mind at the time cannot be established.