Lelland-James Corkill: Woman killed hoping to be adopted

A woman has been convicted of murdering a 13-month-old boy she was planning to adopt.

Leiland-James Corkill was housed by Cumbria authorities less than five months before he died from catastrophic head injuries with Laura Castle, 38, and her husband Scott Castle, 35.

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The youngster was a “cared for child” who was taken into care from birth and was in the care of foster parents until he was eight months old. From August 2020 he was allowed to live with his future adoptive parents.

A series of texts between Castle and her husband showed the tot being described in derogatory terms, with Castle also saying that she “leathered” him.

Laura Schloss.

What happened to Leiland James?

Laura Castle called an ambulance on the morning of January 6 last year and reported that Leiland-James had fallen off the sofa, injured her head and was struggling to breathe.

However, hospital doctors raised concerns as the extent of his injuries did not match their account.

Leiland-James died the following day when Laura Castle claimed to police and family and friends that the death was a tragic accident while her husband, a night worker, was sleeping.

She stuck by her story up until the day the jury was sworn in for her trial at Preston Crown Court last month when she pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Her new version of events was that she shook Leiland-James after he wouldn’t stop crying at breakfast and banged his head against the arm of the sofa before falling off her knee to the floor.

However, medical experts told the court that the amount of force it would have taken to injure Leiland-James was “serious” and likely a combination of shaking and hitting a solid surface.

Prosecutor Michael Brady QC said it was the Crown’s case, she killed the boy when she lost her temper and suggested banging the back of his head against a piece of furniture.

When will Laura Castle be sentenced?

Former caregiver Laura Castle denied wanting to kill Leiland-James or seriously harm him, but it took the jury just two and a half hours Tuesday to convict her of murder.

She was also convicted of child abuse against Leiland-James.

The verdict will be announced next Wednesday.

Scott Castle was found not guilty of allowing Leiland-James to die.

He was also cleared of child abuse charges.

He said he never had any concerns that anything bad would happen to the boy and that he trusts his wife.

The locks had been selected by an adoption panel following an application process overseen by the Cumbria Children’s Services Department, the court heard.

Have any concerns been raised?

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

The following month, the Castles were told by a senior social worker that she would not be supporting an application for Leiland-James to be formally adopted at this time, and recommended further therapeutic parenting sessions.

The possibility of Leiland-James being taken out of her care was considered, but Laura Castle said her extended family loves him so he’s “going nowhere”.

Concerns remained over the lack of emotional attachment, the court heard, and a social services review was due to take place in the New Year.

When detectives examined the defendants’ cellphones after the arrest, they found text messages derogatory to Leiland-James.

Laura Castle wrote that the boy was a “proper nobhead,” “s**t bag,” and “top twat,” while her husband said he was a “d**k baby,” “fat s**t,” and “Throw Sack”.

Laura Castle said the lyrics reflect her “sense of humor” and shouldn’t be taken literally, while Scott Castle was now “ashamed” to broadcast the messages, but he didn’t mean it maliciously and tried to sympathize with his wife.

She wrote several times that she “leathered” Leiland-James, although she told the jury it meant only smacking.

In a September 2020 exchange, she wrote: “I’m seriously at my wits end nobody tells you all this shit. I’m just an abusive parent it seems.”

Scott Castle replied: “You’re not an abusive parent baby. Not at all. Do not say that. I think he’s a little too wacky for us to handle.

“Let’s just end it. I don’t want you to have a nervous breakdown. You are more important to me than him.”

What has Cumbria County Council said?

Cumbria County Council said an independent review of the case was taking place and was due to report in July.

John Readman, the council’s executive director for people, said: “The adoption should have been a fresh start for Leiland.

“That was cruelly taken from him by the person who should have taken care of him and protected him.

“We deeply regret the death of Leiland, it should not have happened.

“Our thoughts and sympathies are with his birth family and everyone who knew this little boy.

“Abuse of a child by adopters is virtually unknown and we are committed to doing everything we can to prevent it from happening again, here or anywhere else.”

What did the CPS say?

Joanne Close, Senior Crown Prosecutor at CPS North West, said: “This has been an incredibly sad case in which 13-month-old Leiland-James Corkill passed away.

“His birth mother believed he would be safe and have a good life. His foster parents nursed and loved him for eight months; They described him as a beautiful little boy with the most infectious laugh. But his life was cruelly ended by the actions of Laura Castle; She was self-centered, abusive and violent and unable to provide a home for this vulnerable child.

“The Crown Prosecution Service have worked very closely with Cumbria Police to develop the best possible case to ensure justice for Leiland-James. Laura Castle was left with no choice but to admit early in the trial that she caused his death. The jury had the evidence they needed to find her guilty of his murder.

“I hope today’s sentencing brings comfort to those who loved Leiland-James. My thoughts are with them.”

https://www.nationalworld.com/news/crime/leiland-james-corkill-death-who-is-babys-killer-laura-castle-when-will-she-be-sentenced-murder-3698055 Lelland-James Corkill: Woman killed hoping to be adopted


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: hung@interreviewed.com.

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