The biological mother of a boy murdered by a woman hoping to adopt him has revealed she was not allowed to hold him in hospital after his death aged 13 months.

Laura Corkill, of Whitehaven, Cumbria, gave birth to Leiland-James Corkill in hospital in December 2019 – but he was removed by social workers 48 hours later.

Cumbria County Council is thought to have told Miss Corkill three times before his birth that its plan was to remove him, because she could not meet his needs.

But Miss Corkill disputes this, claiming she was unfairly penalised because of the behaviour of a previous partner which she said resulted in her first two children being taken away. Leiland-James died in January 2021 during the third lockdown.

She has spoken out for the first time ahead of a Safeguarding Practice Review report being published by Cumbria Safeguarding Children Partnership this afternoon.

It comes two months after Leiland-James’s prospective adoptive mother Laura Castle, 38, from Barrow, was jailed on May 25 for at least 18 years for his murder.

The case of Leiland-James is one of a series during the pandemic lockdowns involving the death of children who were on the radar of social services teams.

Speaking about when she learned of his death, Miss Corkill told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I got a phone call on January 6 saying that Leiland was in hospital.

‘(I said) what happened? They turned round and said apparently he’d had an accident and fell off the sofa and he was critical. I asked the person who phoned me ‘which hospital? I want to go down to where my baby is’.

‘And then they wouldn’t give me it until 24 hours later – and then they eventually told me it was Liverpool Alder Hey Hospital. By the time I got down there, he’d already been dead. I just froze to being with. I froze for about five, ten minutes.

‘I just froze, I just froze on the spot. I didn’t know what to do. And then eventually I went into his room and I just wanted to pick him up, but they wouldn’t allow me.’

‘And then they wouldn’t give me it until 24 hours later – and then they eventually told me it was Liverpool Alder Hey Hospital. By the time I got down there, he’d already been dead. I just froze to being with. I froze for about five, ten minutes.

‘I just froze, I just froze on the spot. I didn’t know what to do. And then eventually I went into his room and I just wanted to pick him up, but they wouldn’t allow me.’

Leiland-James was placed with Castle and her husband Scott, 35, by authorities in Cumbria less than five months before his death from catastrophic head injuries.

The boy was a ‘looked-after child’ who was taken into care at birth before he was approved to live with his prospective adoptive parents in Barrow from August 2020.

Castle rang for an ambulance on the morning of January 6 last year and reported that Leiland-James had fallen off the sofa, injured his head and was struggling to breathe.

The little boy died the following day as hospital medics raised concerns over the defendant’s account.

Castle maintained the death was a tragic accident until the day the jury was sworn in in April for her trial at Preston Crown Court.

She entered a plea of guilty to manslaughter and went on to say that she had shaken Leiland-James because he would not stop crying, and his head hit the armrest of the sofa before he fell off her knee on to the floor.

However, medical experts told the court that the degree of force required to cause his injuries would have been ‘severe’ and likely to be a combination of shaking and an impact with a solid surface.

Prosecutor Michael Brady QC said it was the Crown’s case that Castle killed the boy as she lost her temper and suggested she smashed the back of his head against a piece of furniture.

Jurors convicted her of murder and a separate offence of child cruelty on May 17.

Scott Castle was acquitted of allowing Leiland-James’s death and child cruelty.

When detectives examined the defendants’ mobile phones following their arrest they found text messages which were derogatory towards Leiland-James.

Laura Castle wrote that the youngster was a ‘proper nob head’, ‘s**t bag’ and ‘top t**t’, while her husband said he was a ‘d**k baby’ and a ‘toss bag’.

The Castles had been selected by an adoption panel following an application process overseen by Cumbria Children’s Services Department, the court heard.

In November 2020 concerns were raised that Laura Castle had said during a home visit that she did not love Leiland-James and was struggling to bond with him.

The possibility of removing the youngster from their care was later canvassed, but Laura Castle said her extended family loved him so he was ‘not going anywhere’.

Sentencing her to life imprisonment in May, Mr Justice Baker said it was ‘nothing less than a tragedy’ that she did not return Leiland-James to the local authority when those discussions took place.

He told Castle: ‘Precisely what took place on the morning of 6 January 2021 may never be known, as even now I do not consider that you told the jury the full circumstances leading to the death of Leiland-James.

‘I consider that your account significantly underplays the extent and degree of violence which you inflicted upon Leiland-James that morning, which of necessity must have involved either very severe or considerable impact and oscillation forces to have caused the internal injuries, whilst some of the external injuries were consistent with slapping, pinching and prodding.’

He said she had committed a ‘significant abuse of trust’ as a carer for a looked after child and had caused ‘dreadful emotional upset’ to Leiland-James’s birth mother and his previous foster parents.

Miss Corkill branded Castle a ‘monster’ in a letter to the judge, while his previous foster mother Charlotte Day said she was ‘heartbroken’ at learning of the abuse Leiland-James suffered.

David McLachlan QC, defending, said Castle was in the dock ‘alone and broken’ and with ‘no support whatsoever’.

He said: ‘Her relationship with Scott Castle is likely to come to an end.

‘She is isolated and ostracised in prison due to the verdict of the jury who found she had in fact murdered Leiland-James.

‘Now she must pay the price of that act – an act which resulted in the death of a young baby who will remain an innocent party in these proceedings.’

Detective Superintendent Dave Pattinson, of Cumbria Police, said: ‘Leiland-James Corkill died because of continuous, horrific abuse committed by the very person who should have cared for him.

‘From the very start of this, Laura Castle has lied about her actions – she denied shaking Leiland-James to both police and medical professionals who were attempting to save his life.

‘It is clear that even now, Laura Castle has never been truthful about her actions that morning of January 6 – the actions which ultimately led to Leiland-James’s death.

‘The horrific text messages she sent show her true nature. She spoke of a little boy in the most despicable of terms, the same child she hoped to adopt on a permanent basis.’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.