Mother admits killing autistic son after making him drink bleach

Satpal Kaur Singh feared social services would take boy away, and admits manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility

A mother who made her 12-year-old autistic son drink a cup of bleach because she feared social services would take him away pleaded guilty to manslaughter today.

Satpal Kaur Singh, 44, killed her son Ajit just hours after she refused to co-operate with council staff at a meeting over his care.

Singh had appeared “calm” and no one else who attended had “any concerns about her immediate behaviour”, the Old Bailey heard. Hours later she rang police to say: “I’ve just murdered my son and I’ve tried to kill myself.”

The court heard that social workers at Barking and Dagenham borough council had concerns about Singh in the months before she killed her son in February.

Singh of Barking, east London, denied murder but today pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility. Prosecutors accepted the plea after psychiatrists assessed that she was suffering a mental disorder.

Singh was remanded in custody to be sentenced on 13 December.

Richard Whittam QC, prosecuting, said: “This is a case of great tragedy. It involves the killing of a 12-year-old autistic boy by his mother.”

He said Manchester-born Singh feared that social services were going to make an “interim care order” that would result in the boy being taken away.

Whittam said Ajit “was dependant on his mother for all his needs”, could not speak so had trouble communicating, and had difficulty getting around outdoors.

“He could not tolerate crowded places or noisy environments. He would cover his ears and scream. He needed assistance with his personal hygiene.

“He had no sense of danger. He could be found outside the home despite locks to try to prevent him going outside on his own.

“Social services had been engaged. There were many child protection conferences. Satpal Kaur Singh did not attend many of them but she did attend some.”

Whittam said Singh had complained about a number of people, including her husband, neighbours and members of social services.

“A neighbour who has known Satpal for over 10 years describes her as blowing everything out of proportion and not being capable of talking reasonably with anybody. It was as if everyone was persecuting her.”

Singh had previously spoken about killing herself by drinking bleach because of her problems with social services.

Whittam said: “Social services had concerns about a number of things, including Satpal’s parenting skills and her lack of co-operation.”