Following up on a story we reported on in May, Yvonne Freaney, a UK mother who killed her 11-year-old son with severe autism, has been allowed to walk free by Justice Wyn Williams this past week. This comes after initially being cleared of murder and convicted of a lesser charge of manslaughter. In his ruling, Williams claimed that Freaney had been "punished enough" and released her on a supervised order.
As part of her release, Freaney will be required to live in a residence approved by the courts and is not allowed to have unsupervised contact with any child under eighteen years of age.
Freaney strangled and killed her son, Glen, back in May of 2010 with a coat belt because she “was frightened about who would look after him" after she was gone. Upon killing her son, Freaney attempted to take her own life by cutting her wrists, but was unsuccessful. She was described as a sad, defeated woman who suffered from physical abuse at the hands of her husband, Mark, as well as a psychological disorder.
Although this case is tragic on many levels, one thing is clear — Freaney is now a free woman because of a sympathetic judge and jury, despite the fact that she murdered a child.
Some have speculated that had her child not been severely autistic, she would have been convicted of murder. If true, then this is a blatant example of the devaluation of human life related to someone with special needs and Justice Williams should be ashamed of himself.
In learning of all the details of this story, it was truly sad and tragic for all involved. However, sympathy should never trump justice and clearly, this is what happened.
In addition to telling Freaney that she had been "punished enough," Judge Williams also said:
“The only sensible and credible explanation is that your state of mind was truly abnormal….You cared for [Glen] with the best of your ability, day in and day out. He was very demanding but you never let that deflect from putting his best interests above those of your own.”
That is just a stunning statement in light of what happened.
Based on Williams’ comments and actions, he obviously deems the killing of a child acceptable behavior for parents who are overwhelmed while caring for a child with autism. What a terrible precedent and what a terrible injustice for Glen.