‘Absolutely leather’ killer adoptive mother carries trademark ‘whinge bag’, court hears


Laura Castle is on trial over the death of 13-month-old Leiland-James Corkill, whom she was trying to adopt, but the court heard text messages Ms Castle said she ‘couldn’t stop hitting’ the tot

Leiland-James Corkill

A woman is charged with murdering a 12-month-old boy she hoped to adopt after her frustration with him turned to hostility, a court has heard.

Laura Castle, 38, has admitted manslaughter but denies murdering year-old Leiland-James Corkill and is on trial at Preston Crown Court.

The one-year-old died in hospital on January 7, 2021 from catastrophic head injuries sustained at the home of Laura and her husband Scott Castle, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. It had been less than five months since he had been placed with the couple.

Ms Castle, 38, admitted manslaughter but denies murder and two child cruelty offences, the court heard.

Mr Castle, 35, denies causing or authorizing Leiland’s death and two counts of child cruelty.

The court heard Leiland was just eight months old when he was placed with the castles in August 2020 as they sought to adopt him.

Little Leiland had been taken from his biological mother at just two days old.

Opening the trial, prosecutor Michael Brady QC, said Mrs Castle had killed the baby out of a ‘background of frustration’ which was ‘born out of very stressful domestic circumstances and an inability to bond’ with the baby.

Preston Crown Court, where the trial is ongoing


Echo of Liverpool)

This “frustration turned into hostility culminating in Leiland’s murder”.

The prosecutor told the court that on September 23, 2020, she texted aerospace night shift worker Mr. Castle: “Honestly, I really don’t like him lately, he’s a bag absolute moaning back and i totally regret doing it.

The court heard there were a number of posts in which she used aggressive and nasty language towards the baby. Mr Brady claimed Mr Castle ‘actively encouraged’ his wife’s alleged behaviour.

In the messages, the court heard Ms Castle say: “I’m going to lose my mind. He pisses me off all the time, he can never have a good day or a good night.

“Although I have to stop hitting him because if I start I won’t stop at some point and it doesn’t get us anywhere and then I feel bad.”

The court heard that the next day she texted: ‘I just baked him, I can’t take this anymore, he’s going to have to go.’

Scott Castle replied, “Okay, baby. He really screwed it up. At least we tried,” the court heard.

GV of Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool, where little Leiland died


Echo of Liverpool)

The castles had previously been selected by an adoption committee following an application process overseen by the Cumbria Department of Children’s Services, the court heard.

The following month, a placement review took place and the Castles were told that the local authority would not support an application for permanent adoption unless further therapeutic work was undertaken.

However, the couple remained committed to continuing the process, the court was told, and a care planning meeting with social workers was recommended for the New Year.

On the morning of January 6 last year, Laura Castle dialed 999 from her home in Eskdale Avenue, Barrow-in-Furness, and reported that Leiland-James had fallen from a sofa, injured his head and was unresponsive, the court heard.

Jurors at Preston Crown Court heard he was rushed to Furness General Hospital and then transferred to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool in cardiac arrest and with a haemorrhage in the brain.

Doctors at Alder Hey raised concerns about injuries that did not match the account given by the defendant, as Leiland-James never regained consciousness and died on January 7.

The prosecutor said pathologist Dr Alison Armour, who performed the autopsy, believed the degree of force required to produce the severe head injuries was “considerable”.

He said she thought most of the injuries were consistent with assault, and the bruises to the head and face were consistent with slapping, grabbing, pinching, kicking and punching.

The trial has been adjourned until next Tuesday.


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