Sunday 22 September 2019

Mother who killed her twins out of 'anger' at estranged husband jailed

Jake and Chloe Ford were killed by their mother Samantha Ford Photo credit: Family handout/PA Wire
Jake and Chloe Ford were killed by their mother Samantha Ford Photo credit: Family handout/PA Wire
Jake Ford was aged 23 months when he was killed Photo credit: Family handout/PA Wire
Chloe Ford was aged 23 months when she was killed Photo credit: Family handout/PA Wire
Steve Ford, father of Chloe and Jake Ford, arrives at the Old Bailey in London Photo credit: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Jake Ford Photo credit: Family handout/PA Wire

Emily Pennink

A depressed mother who drowned her toddler twins in the bath out of "anger" at her estranged husband has been locked up for 10 years.

Samantha Ford, 38, killed her children Jake and Chloe on Boxing Day last year, after her split from their father Steven Ford a few months beforehand.

She then drove her Ford Galaxy at about 100mph into the back of a lorry, without a seatbelt on, in the early hours of December 27.

When police managed to open the doors of her vehicle, she told them: "I've killed my babies. Please let me die.

Steve Ford, father of Chloe and Jake Ford, arrives at the Old Bailey in London
Photo credit: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Steve Ford, father of Chloe and Jake Ford, arrives at the Old Bailey in London Photo credit: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

"I put them in the bath. We were meant to be together. I was going to jump off a cliff but it's too dark."

Police found the 23-month-old children, who were conceived by IVF, dead in their bedroom at her rented home in Castle Drive, Margate, Kent.

Ford denied murder but admitted two counts of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility at a hearing in May.

Mr Justice Edis sentenced Ford to 10 years, to be served in a psychiatric unit until she is well enough to be transferred to prison.

Jake Ford was aged 23 months when he was killed
Photo credit: Family handout/PA Wire
Jake Ford was aged 23 months when he was killed Photo credit: Family handout/PA Wire

The senior judge told the defendant: "The horror of what happened does not need any explanation by me.

"Anyone with any imagination can envisage for themselves what must have happened in that bathroom.

"It is unlikely that they died simultaneously and it must have taken some time and required some determination."

"Your anger with your husband was a significant contributory factor.

Chloe Ford was aged 23 months when she was killed
Photo credit: Family handout/PA Wire
Chloe Ford was aged 23 months when she was killed Photo credit: Family handout/PA Wire

"In deciding to kill your children and yourself, I am sure that you had thoughts of the effect this would have on Steven Ford, with whom all the psychiatrists say you were preoccupied.

"You knew it would devastate him and I'm sure that is a reason why you did it."

Earlier, prosecutor Tom Kark QC had told how the couple had lived in Qatar for the first 10 years of their marriage, but their relationship soured after they left their affluent lifestyle in the Middle East and moved to Charing in Kent in 2018.

Before their split, Ford had told her husband: "You have ripped my world apart, now we are nothing but a miserable, broken family growing up in a shit hole."

Relatives said Ford's mental health declined rapidly following the separation, and she sent multiple text messages to her estranged husband trying to persuade him to return to her, the court heard.

Ford, who was said to have been "controlling and aggressive" towards her husband in the past, pleaded with him saying: "I'm not a monster."

She and the children moved to an address in Castle Drive, Margate, while Mr Ford remained in Charing.

Brenda Campbell QC, for Ford, said there had been 76 communications between Ford and mental health services in the weeks before the killings.

By Christmas, her family decided that her mental health was so poor that Mr Ford should take the twins and bring them back on Boxing Day, the court heard.

Ford drowned them later that evening, after her parents had left the house.

Psychiatrist Dr Philip Joseph told the court Ford had feelings of "anger and betrayal" towards her estranged husband and "wanted revenge" when she killed their children.

He found her mental function was impaired due to "moderate" depressive illness.

He cast doubt on her later claim that she heard voices, but said she may have had thoughts in her head "telling her the only way forward is to kill the children".

But Professor Gillian Mezey said Ford would never have harmed her children if it were not for her illness.

She disagreed that Ford had acted out of "anger or aggressive outbursts".

She added: "She was a good caring loving attentive mother by every account and her marriage to Steven Ford was also a rather successful one."

She said Ford had told her of just one incident when she had hit her husband, many years ago.

In a victim impact statement read out at an earlier hearing, Mr Ford said he thought his children would have been "terrified, confused and that they suffered" in death.

He said: "This was the most heinous, spiteful act on two innocent children.

"I have no doubt [Ford] did this with the intention of taking her own life and punishing me in the process."

He added: "I know how she behaves when things don't go her way and when she doesn't get what she wants.

"It's an extreme version of her character because she couldn't get her own way - knowing how much I loved the children she knew it would be the ultimate punishment for me not going back to her."

Mitigating, Ms Campbell said Ford was a "bright and capable" woman who had been "destroyed" by her actions.

In a letter to the court Ford wrote that the loss of her children was "indescribable" and "physically and mentally hurts".

Detective Chief Inspector Kaye Braybrook, of Kent Police, said: "This incident is so very tragic.

"Nothing will replace the killing of two innocent children but I hope that now the court proceedings have concluded, it will help bring some closure and assist the family in coping with the grief that they continue to suffer."

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