In an upsetting story out of the United Kingdom, a 49-year-old mother has been found not-guilty of murdering her 11-year-old son with autism, despite admitting to strangling him in a hotel room back in May of last year.
Yvonne Freaney, a resident of Wales, strangled her son Glen with a coat belt because she "was frightened about who would look after him." After killing her son, Freaney laid down and attempted to take her own life, but was unsuccessful. Prosecutors described her as a "sad, defeated woman."
Freaney was living in the Sky Plaza hotel with her severely autistic son due to alleged domestic violence episodes, causing her to move out of the family’s home. Some incidents were violent enough to require Mrs. Freaney to seek medical attention for her injuries, but she never pressed charges against her husband, Mark. In fact, during the trial, he was shown to have sent a text message to a friend that read, "I’m a wife beater and proud of it. She deserves it.”
Clearly, the jury showed compassion and spared Freaney of murder charges and this case highlights the extreme emotional stress that parents of children with autism can often be subjected to. Further compounding matters, Freaney’s hotel stays are an indicator of the lack of a support structure around her.
This case is tragic for all involved and underscores the need for respite care for parents and caregivers. While Freaney clearly should have been found guilty of murder, she also should never have been in the position she was in to allow these incidents to occur.
Parents with children on the low end of the spectrum can often be exhausted physically, emotionally and financially — and for those who are emotionally unstable, it doesn’t take much for them to reach their breaking point.
Freaney is being held until her sentencing on June 10th for the lesser charge of manslaughter.