A woman who drowned and burned her four-year-old daughter in a “sacrifice” has been detained at a psychiatric hospital indefinitely after being found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.
Carly Ann Harris, 38, was accused of murdering Amelia Brooke Harris at their home after suffering a mental breakdown that made her believe she was saving the world, Newport Crown Court heard.
A judge made Harris the subject of a hospital order without limit of time after a jury returned a “special verdict” because psychiatrists agreed she was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.
During the two-day trial, jurors were told there was no dispute that Harris killed her daughter or about the events leading up to the incident at their home in Brithweunydd Road, Trealaw, in South Wales.
Amelia’s teenage brother found her body, wrapped in a sheet, on a table in their garden in Trealaw on 8 June this year.
Local residents heard screaming and went into the street to see what was wrong, where they saw Harris’s older children, who were visibly distressed.
Neighbour Megan Griffiths saw Harris standing in the front garden, looking “dazed”. The defendant told her: “God will be with her. The angels have taken her.”
She dialled 999 and went into the back garden of Harris’s house where she saw Amelia’s charred remains lying on the coffee table covered with a sheet.
When the police arrived at the scene, Harris told them: “The angels told me to do it. Just arrest me. It’s OK.”
One of Harris’s two sons said his mother had “not been well” for some six weeks before the incident, the court heard.
Home Office pathologist Dr Richard Jones found Amelia had died from drowning and was already dead when she was set on fire.
Harris had been taking “small amounts” of amphetamines leading up to the incident, but experts agreed she had not been suffering from drug-induced psychosis.
Dr Arden Tomison, a psychiatrist, diagnosed Harris with schizophrenia and said at the time she was suffering from an “abnormality of mental function which substantially impaired her ability to form a rational judgment”.
He said she appeared to have experienced “paranoid and religious delusions” and believed she had to kill Amelia to save the world, and was being tested by God who would then return her daughter to her.
Dr Tomison said when he examined Harris as recently as a month ago, she was still firm in the belief that she had to kill her child in order to protect her and save the world.
Another psychiatrist, Dr Phillip Joseph, agreed Harris had suffered from schizophrenia following a urinary tract infection in 2014.
Harris denied murder and manslaughter. Jurors took an hour to find her not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.
Passing sentence, Mr Justice Picken said he was imposing a hospital order and restriction order without limit of time.
“This is a deeply sad case in circumstances where you have killed your four-year-old daughter Amelia at your house which you shared with her,” the judge said.
“These facts speak for themselves.
“A young girl rich in promise met her death at the hands of her own mother in the most horrific manner.”
Speaking outside court, Harris’s mother Jacquie Harris, who was visibly upset, said: “It’s bittersweet ... I am devastated and beyond words.
“I lost Amelia and I lost Carly and the two boys lost their mother and sister and each other.
“I have lost my life. I’ve gone beyond tears. She is my daughter and I am devastated and I have lost my daughter.”
Mrs Harris added: “She is not a monster. She is the salt of the earth.”