Mother admits killing disabled son in lockdown
A woman has admitted killing her disabled 10-year-old son after suffering a mental breakdown while struggling to care for him during the lockdown.
Olga Freeman, 40, was charged with the murder of Dylan Freeman, who was found dead at their home in Cumberland Park, Acton, west London, on August 15 last year.
The boy was found in the master bedroom of the house, lying on his back covered by a duvet with parts of a sponge in his throat, and toys had been placed beside him.
A post-mortem examination gave the cause of Dylan’s death as restriction of the airways.
At the time of his death, his father, celebrity photographer Dean Freeman, was in Spain.
At a virtual hearing at the Old Bailey on Monday, Russian national Freeman denied her son’s murder but admitted manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility.
Prosecutor Gareth Patterson QC said the plea was acceptable to the Crown after careful consideration.
Freeman, who attended court from a psychiatric unit, appeared pale, with her long brown hair worn loose around her face.
Her lawyer, Jane Bickerstaff QC, told the court that psychiatrists all agreed her responsibility at the time of the killing was diminished because she was suffering a “depressive illness with psychotic symptoms”.
She suggested the appropriate sentence would be a hospital order with restrictions.
Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb adjourned sentencing to February 11.
Dylan had been diagnosed with autism, global neurodevelopmental delay, progressive myopia and significant difficulties with language and communication, self-help and independence.
He required round-the-clock care and had attended a special school five days a week but had been unable to go during the lockdown.
He was suffocated at his home in Acton sometime between August 14 and August 17 last year.
In the week leading up to the killing, Freeman had spoken about saving the world and being a Messiah.
In a voice recording she said: “This is my job: to sacrifice my beloved child to create a balance in this world.”
Previously, the court heard that her friend, Edita Surpickaja, had said Freeman had struggled to meet Dylan’s needs as he got older and her mental health had suffered.
Shortly before midnight on August 15 last year, the defendant telephoned and asked her to go round.
Freeman told her friend not to go into the bedroom, saying: “We need to go to Jerusalem. I did what I did.
“Sometimes when things are good it can be really evil.”
Ms Surpickaja hid Freeman’s passport and recorded a conversation on a mobile phone in which she said she had killed Dylan and had no choice.
After some discussion, the two women walked to Acton police station.
When they arrived, Freeman said loudly: “I have killed my child.”
Olga Freeman had loved and cared for Dylan for many years, but the strain and pressures of her son’s severe and complex special needs had built up and that, combined with her impaired mental health, led to heartbreaking consequences
Police went to the house and found Dylan’s body with apparent ligature marks and a bra, melatonin, sticky tape and a sponge.
While at the police station, the defendant said she killed Dylan before midnight.
She said she and had given him melatonin tablets and used her bra and then her hands, and put a sponge in his mouth.
She had then placed his body where he liked to sleep with his toys to allow him to die with dignity and kindness, she said.
Ms Surpickaja had attended her friend’s plea hearing by video-link.
Dylan’s father, whose work includes campaigns with Bollywood star Deepika Padukone and Hollywood actor Bradley Cooper, has previously paid tribute to his son.
He said: “Dylan was a beautiful, bright, inquisitive and artistic child who loved to travel, visit art galleries and swim.
“We travelled extensively over the years together, spending such memorable time in places including Brazil, France and Spain.
“I can’t begin to comprehend his loss.”
Kristen Katsouris, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “This was a tragic death of a child at the hands of his mother, who was struggling to cope.
“Olga Freeman had loved and cared for Dylan for many years, but the strain and pressures of her son’s severe and complex special needs had built up and that, combined with her impaired mental health, led to heartbreaking consequences.
“Our thoughts are with all those affected by this case.”
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Harding, of Scotland Yard, said: “This has been an incredibly sad incident to investigate. Foremost our thoughts are with Dylan and his family, who continue to feel his untimely loss and will do so for a long time to come.
“I would like to thank my team of detectives, who have worked so diligently and professionally during this harrowing case.
“I would also like to acknowledge the selfless actions of my response colleagues who attended the scene on that night and tried in vain to save Dylan’s life.”
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