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WALES: Killer mother 'was cutting off emotions' Expert believes little girl's drowning had not been planned.


A MOTHER who drowned her four-year-old daughter in a bath was suffering from a mental disorder which caused her to disconnect her emotions, according to a psychiatrist.

Joanne Hill, 32, killed her four-year old daughter Naomi at their home in Goya Close, Connah'sQuay, last November.

A jury at Chester Crown Court was told yesterday that Hill, an advertising saleswoman, will not give evidence in her own defence.

The prosecution say Hill killed Naomi because she could not cope with the youngster's mild cerebral palsy. The mother denies murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Instead the eight men and four women heard from Dr Aideen O' Halloran, a consultant forensic psychiatrist who interviewed Hill following Naomi's death and studied her medical records for a report for Hill's defence.

Earlier his year Hill was transferred to a medium secure mental hospital.

Dr O'Halloran said staff there described the defendant as an "enigma".

She said: "There is agreement that (Hill) has a mental disorder but it has been difficult to be conclusive about what that disorder is."

Asked if she was mentally ill when she killed Naomi, Dr O'Halloran said: "Inmy opinion she was. In my view she was suffering from depression, of which she had a history, and she was also using a mechanism of disassociation to disassociate her feelings.

"The combination, in my view, is an abnormality of the mind."

Dr O'Halloran would not give a view on the level of diminished responsibility, saying it was a matter for the jury to decide.

But under cross-examination, Michael Chambers QC, prosecuting, put it to Dr O'Halloran that she had not been able to reach a firm conclusion about a diagnosis for Hill.

She replied: "I suppose I haven't."

Dr O'Halloran said Hill's mental health issues first became apparent in the early 1990s when she was 17-year-old and saw a child psychiatrist for anxiety and repetitive thoughts.

In 2000, Hill twice attempted suicide and throughout the year she was prescribed a medication for anxiety, depression and sleeplessness.

Naomi was born 10 weeks premature in a "difficult" birth.

Dr O'Halloran said almost immediately Hill suffered puerperal depression - described by the expert as a severe form of post natal depression.

Again, Hill was treated by her local community health team and appeared to make a quick recovery.

On November 26 last year Hill ran a bath and drowned her daughter.

She then dressed Naomi and put her in the car and drove around for eight hours.

At 3.30am the following day, Hill arrived at the Countess of Chester hospital with her dead daughter in her arms, shouting for help.

Dr O'Halloran said: "Descriptions of her being very matter of fact about Naomi's death show she was cutting off her emotions.

"This was not a case of a planned killing, she was not covering her tracks or anything like that.

"(Hill) described an absence of thinking and an absence of feeling, again very matter of fact.

"It was disconnected from logical, rational thinking and normal emotion."

The trial was adjourned until 10am tomorrow when Dr O'Halloran will complete her evidence.


Joanne Hill (left) killed her daughter Naomi (above) by drowning her in the bath. She denies murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 18, 2008
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