A LOVING mother suffering from postnatal depression killed her baby after being unable to get mental health help, a court has heard.
Erin Sutherland, 36, smothered her nine-month-old daughter before phoning emergency services and telling them: “I’ve put my daughter to sleep.”
Sutherland killed her daughter Chloe at the family home after a letter had arrived from her ex-partner, the baby’s father, detailing his proposals for arranging access to the child.
She was originally arrested for the murder of her daughter, but yesterday pled guilty to the lesser offence of culpable homicide.
The court heard that Sutherland had previously received hospital treatment following the birth of an older daughter when she was diagnosed with postnatal depression in 2006. Her symptoms worsened when the child was eight months old and led to her becoming an inpatient.
But when her family doctor contacted a perinatal mental health team for her to see a community psychiatric nurse following a consultation in December last year, support could not be offered because the baby was older than six months.
This is an enormously distressing case which has caused considerable trauma for all concernedLady Wise
Sutherland admitted assaulting and killing Chloe, who was born on April 8 last year, at their home in Parkhead View on February 3 this year and covering her mouth and nose, causing fatal injuries to the baby.
The Crown accepted her plea on the basis that at the time she was suffering a mental disorder. Judge Lady Wise said: “This is clearly an enormously distressing case, the events of which have caused considerable trauma for all concerned.”
Sutherland had started a relationship with Chloe’s father, Craig Steedman, in 2012 but it ended after Chloe was born. Advocate depute Iain McSporran said Mr Steedman described Sutherland as caring and loving towards her children and they had planned the pregnancy.
The couple separated in June last year after a row, and despite mediation Sutherland asked Mr Steedman to leave in September – the last time he saw his daughter before she was rushed to hospital.
Sutherland had been receiving counselling in the months leading up to Chloe’s death, and on the day of the killing phoned a postnatal depression service at 1pm and an employee noted she was “anxious”. Mr McSporran said: “The staff member asked the accused if she was feeling suicidal to which she replied she wasn’t going to do anything silly.”
But she later phoned a friend and said: “Chloe’s not here any more.” She stated she “just broke” and that she had the child and was cuddling her. She said she had put her hand over her face and said: “I smothered her. I suffocated her.”
Sentence was deferred on Sutherland, who is detained at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, for reports and she will be held under a treatment order ahead of sentencing in August.