A 12-year-old boy killed his six-month-old baby brother by stabbing him 17 times and cutting off his left hand as he lay in his cot, a court was told today.
Bristol Crown Court was told how the youngster, who is now 13 years old and cannot be named for legal reasons, walked into a Bristol police station on January 19 last year and told officers he had stabbed his brother – then produced a kitchen knife.
Officers went round to the boy’s home in the city’s Withywood area to find the baby in his cot with multiple stab wounds.
Police found the mother of both boys downstairs, and she discovered the baby at the same time as the officers.
Today Mr Roderick Denyer QC, prosecuting, accepted the boy’s plea of guilty of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility. The teenager had denied murder.
Court hearings had earlier been told how the boy suffered from “serious psychiatric problems”, including the autism-type disorder Aspergers syndrome, and had had an “appalling” upbringing.
Mr Denyer said: “On January 19 at about 3.00 o’clock in the afternoon (the boy) presented himself at Broadbury Road police station and indicated that he had stabbed his baby brother several times in his cot.
“He thought he may be dead. He produced to the people there a kitchen knife with a brown handle which was four to five inches long.”
Mr Denyer said the boy told several people at the police station that he had stabbed his brother, saying: “I stabbed him in the cot. I hit him in the head.”
Mr Denyer said when he was asked by one officer why he had done it, the boy replied: “I want to be with my mother.”
Officers went straight round to the house.
“In company with the defendant’s mother they went to the bedroom on the first floor,” Mr Denyer said.
“A chaotic scene developed for understandable reasons as it was clear the baby had been stabbed in his cot and that his hand had been severed.
“I will not go into the resuscitation attempts that were made, but they were unsuccessful.”
The baby was taken to a local children’s hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The post mortem examination revealed that the baby had “some 17 stabs wounds to the face and neck and back”.
The wounds to the back were all roughly parallel to each other, Mr Denyer said, adding that one had severed the spinal cord.
Mr Denyer added: “The left hand had been severed at its wrist.
“The wound through the spine would have required a sizeable degree of force, even with a sharp knife.”
Mr Denyer said the mother told police she was downstairs when the baby was stabbed, and that the boy had not been at school that day as she had had an argument with him.
“She was downstairs dozing on the settee with one of her other young children,” Mr Denyer said.
The mother told officers she had put the baby in his cot at about 1pm, then argued with the boy and told him to go upstairs to feed the baby.
Mr Denyer said: “(The boy) went upstairs and (the baby) started crying almost immediately.
“Five minutes later (the boy) came downstairs and asked her to wash his coat.
“She noticed that the clothes he had been wearing were now in the wash basket and were subsequently put in the washing machine.
“The first she knew about the death of (the baby) was when the police arrived at the house.”
The boy told police who interviewed that he did not know why he had done it, Mr Denyer said.
The boy told officers: “I went to the kitchen downstairs and I got the knife. I went upstairs to the bedroom and I walked to the cot.
“Then I stabbed (the baby) and I went downstairs, got changed, went out, walked around for a bit and then I came here (the police station).”
Mr Denyer said the boy continued: “When I got the knife I was thinking to hurt (the baby).
“I was in the room for a couple of minutes. I was aiming to hurt him. I don’t know why. I hurt the baby a couple of times.”
Mr Denyer said it was clear the boy had begun to block out the events even by the time of his police interview, the day following the killing.
It was clear from the baby’s injuries that the boy stabbed him while he was lying in the cot, and that he had turned him over during the attack.
The cutting off of the baby’s hand was also clearly deliberate, Mr Denyer said, adding: “It clearly required a conscious piece of behaviour on his part.”
Earlier Mr Denyer told the Judge, Mr Justice Toulson, that the Crown Prosecution Service had considered the boy’s pleas long and hard before making today’s decision.
It was clear the boy was suffering from severe psychiatric disorders, including Asperger Syndrome, and psychiatrists instructed by defence lawyers had concluded that he suffered a “psychotic shift” at the time of the killing.
There was some disagreement between the defence and prosecution experts, he said, but they agreed that, given the circumstances, a jury was unlikely to see the killing as murder rather than manslaughter.
A murder trial was not an option, and if the pleas were not accepted the boy would have to be treated for his illnesses with the threat of the trial hanging over him.
Mr Denyer said: “To deal with him in that sort of way, with a possibility of a trial hanging over his head many years down the line, almost certainly would amount a violation of his human rights.”