Mother criticises council after son murdered by woman trying to adopt him

Leiland-James Corkill, one, was killed by Laura Castle in Barrow-in-Furness in January last year.

28 July 2022

A mother whose baby was murdered by the woman who was trying to adopt him has said council authorities should take some responsibility for his death.

Laura Corkill told the BBC her son Leiland-James’s killer Laura Castle was “an evil sadistic monster” for murdering her one-year-old in January last year.

But Ms Corkill, from Whitehaven, said Cumbria County Council was also to blame for removing her son from her just hours after he was born.

She had previously been a victim of domestic abuse and had other children removed from her in the past.

In an interview with the BBC, Ms Corkill said: “Why did they place him there?

“Why did it take them so long to pick up on it?

“They should have cancelled the adoption order.”

Leiland-James Corkill had been placed with Castle, 38, and her 35-year-old husband Scott in Barrow-in-Furness by the authorities less than five months before his death from catastrophic head injuries.

She was convicted of murder following a trial at Preston Crown Court and was jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years.

She had claimed his death was a tragic accident, but it emerged she had used derogatory language about the boy in texts to her husband, who was subsequently cleared of any offence.

In November 2020, concerns were raised that Laura Castle had said during a home visit that she did not love Leiland-James and was struggling to bond with him.

Laura Castle
Laura Castle was convicted of murdering the one-year-old following a trial and was jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years (Cumbria Police/PA)

The possibility of removing the youngster from their care was later canvassed, but Laura Castle said her extended family loved him so he was “not going anywhere”.

A review of what happened is being published on Thursday afternoon, but his mother was not asked to participate.

Ms Corkill was determined to keep her son and claims she only received confirmation he was to be removed from her care after he was born, and she had already prepared Leiland-James’s room for him, expecting to take him home.

She was supported by Women Out West, an organisation helping women who have suffered domestic and sexual violence, in her bid to win back her baby.

Ms Corkill said she was told Leiland-James was ill in hospital, but was not told which one.

By the time she arrived at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool he had died from his injuries.

She told the BBC: “I said whoever had him had killed him. The surgeon told me ‘we had suspicions of this and it went into investigation as soon as Leiland-James went into the hospital’.”

John Readman, executive director for people at Cumbria County Council, said: “Where there are concerns that a child’s needs cannot be met and that they are at risk of harm, we have a duty to act.

“In Leiland-James’s case, the family courts agreed that he should be placed in foster care after he was born.

“We do recognise how difficult this is for birth parents and work hard to ensure they are supported and kept informed about what is happening.

“Plans include contact with birth parents, which in many cases is supervised by children’s services staff.

“When Leiland-James died, Laura Corkill had support from her own social worker who helped her through what was a very distressing and emotional time, and this support continues.

“As we have said previously, Leiland-James’s death should not have happened and our condolences go to all those who knew him.”

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