'Bury us together' – the note found after mum killed son
Published 08/04/2014 | 02:30
A note with the words "bury us together" was discovered at the home of a woman who suffocated her eight-year-old son to death with a pillow.
Diane Ward (44), who suffered with severe depression, consumed a large number of paracetamol tablets before smothering her only child, Anthony Ward, as he slept in bed.
Ms Ward, from Co Cork, felt there would have been nobody to look after Anthony if she took her own life, the Central Criminal Court was told.
Yesterday, Judge Barry White said he was "minded to impose a non-custodial sentence" in the case.
However, he deferred a decision so the appropriate supports can be put in place ahead of any release back into the community.
Judge White said it would be "highly inappropriate if Ms Ward was to be released back into society" with no back-up plan or support services.
A moving statement from Mark Ryan, Anthony's father, was read out at yesterday's hearing.
"I'm getting on with my life. My loss has been traumatic. I will live with the memory of Anthony and all the good times we had together," Mr Ryan said.
"I miss him dearly and I will never forget him," he added.
Mr Ryan said he and Ms Ward – who pleaded guilty to manslaughter – had been "friends for 10 years" and "never had any big trauma".
"What has brought us here today is a good person who made a mistake. I wish her well and I have no grievance with Diane," Mr Ryan said.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Ryan said "it is not easy" and he would prefer not to say anything further.
Giving evidence, Detective Sergeant Michael Corbett said Mallow garda station received a phone call at 9.30am on September 3, 2012, from Billy Ward, a brother of the accused.
Mr Ward told gardai he had been contacted by Diane to say she had killed her son.
Gardai went to Ms Ward's home at Harrison Place, Charleville, and found her sitting on a bed in the back bedroom, with Anthony on her left-hand side, lying on the bed.
The boy's pulse was checked but none was found, and the emergency services were called.
Ms Ward told gardai she killed Anthony by "smothering" him with a pillow, the court was told.
Anthony, a second-class pupil at Newtownshandrum National School, was due to return to class after the summer break that day.
The previous night, Ms Ward went to bed at 10pm, an hour after her son, who had got into the habit of sleeping in his mother's bed.
Between 3am and 3.30am, Ms Ward got up and retrieved an envelope from the kitchen where she kept paracetamol. She took a large quantity with a glass of water and returned to the bedroom and decided she was going to smother Anthony, Det Sgt Corbett said.
The court heard Ms Ward had a difficult relationship with her family, who lived beside her. When Anthony was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in 2011, he was prescribed Ritalin, causing a rift with her family who felt the treatment was not in his best interests.
However, Ms Ward felt he should continue with the medication and the decision led to friction with her family, the court heard.
A psychiatric assessment, details of which were read out by prosecuting barrister Tim O'Leary, outlined how Ms Ward had suffered from recurrent depressive disorder since 1992.
Mary Rose Gearty, for the accused, pointed out her client had been in detention for 18 months.
Judge White remanded the accused in custody at the Central Mental Hospital to appear again on July 7 when the court will hear what support services can be provided for her if she is released.
He said: "Quite clearly, I'm minded to impose a non-custodial sentence but I don't think it's fair to Ms Ward to open the gates of Dundrum this afternoon and have her walk out. It is clearly not in her interests."