Mother ‘drowned daughter, 4, before setting fire to body’ after believing she had to sacrifice her to God

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A mother drowned her four-year-old daughter before setting her body on fire after believing she had to sacrifice her to God, a court has heard.

Carly Ann Harris killed Ameila Brooke Harris at their home after suffering a mental breakdown, which made her believe she was saving the world.

Newport Crown Court was told that Amelia’s teenage brother found her body, wrapped in a sheet, on a table in their garden in Trealaw, Rhondda, South Wales, on June 8 this year.

Prosecutor Michael Jones QC said: “On that day Harris killed her four-year-old daughter Amelia by placing her in a bath of water and deliberately drowning her at their home address.

“The defendant then took Amelia’s dead body out of the bath, covered her with a sheet, carried her downstairs and placed her body on a coffee table that was situated in the back garden, and then set fire to Amelia’s body.”

Mr Jones said that, on the day of the death, neighbour Megan Griffiths heard a raised voice saying “Mummy, Mummy, Mummy”.

She mentioned it to her partner, Jake Barlow, but he said he had not heard anything.

A short time later Mr Barlow heard screaming outside and went into the street with Miss Griffiths.

Miss Griffiths saw Harris standing in the front garden, looking “dazed”. The defendant told her: “God will be with her. The angels have taken her.”

The neighbour dialled 999 and went into the back garden of Harris’s house where she saw Amelia’s charred remains lying on the coffee table covered with a sheet.

When the police arrived at the scene, Harris told them: “The angels told me to do it. Just arrest me. It’s OK.”

The court heard that one of Harris’s two sons said his mother had “not been well” for some six weeks before the incident.

Mr Jones said the 17-year-old – who cannot be named – described how Harris had been suffering from anxiety and would stare out of their back window saying people were “stalking” them.

The son returned home at around 10pm on June 8 to find his 11-year-old brother crying in the living room.

Mr Jones said: “The younger brother told him ‘Don’t go out the back garden’.

“He asked why, and Harris entered the room and said ‘Amelia has gone to heaven’.

“She said ‘Don’t go out the back, she’s gone to heaven and she’s coming back on Sunday’.

“The son walked into the garden and, once there, saw the coffee table and after lifting the sheet up he saw his sister’s leg and it was charred and black.

“He then ran into the house screaming.”

Home Office pathologist Dr Richard Jones was called to the house, where he found the brown duvet covering the “severely burned body of a child lying on its back”.

Prosecutor Mr Jones told jurors there was no dispute that Harris killed her daughter or events leading up to the incident, but they were tasked with deciding whether she was not guilty of murder by reason of insanity, or guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Mr Jones said Harris had been taking “small amounts” of amphetamines leading up to the incident, but experts agreed she had not been suffering from drug-induced psychosis.

Dr Arden Tomison, a psychiatrist, diagnosed Harris with schizophrenia and said at the time she was suffering form “abnormality of mental function which substantially impaired her ability to form a rational judgment”.

He said she appeared to have experienced “paranoid and religious delusions” and believed she had to kill Amelia to save the world, and was being tested by God who would then return her daughter to her.

Another psychiatrist, Dr Phillip Joseph, agreed Harris had suffered from schizophrenia following a urinary tract infection in 2014.

Mr Jones said: “It is common ground between the prosecution and the defence that the defendant was suffering from mental illness.”

He added: “At the time of the act she was suffering such a disease of the mind that she knew the nature of what she was doing and intended to kill Amelia, but she did not know what she was doing was wrong.”

Kate Brunner QC, defending, said Harris would not be giving evidence, saying: “It is agreed she is still very unwell.”

Harris, from Brithweunydd Road, Trealaw, Tonypandy, denies murder and manslaughter. She was remanded in custody.

Mr Justice Picken adjourned the trial until Monday.

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