July 2023

Mother who murdered her five-year-old son on New Year’s Eve by poisoning him with anti-depressants as she is jailed for 18 years

A mother has been jailed for 18 years after she murdered her five-year-old son with anti-depressants in an apparent double suicide attempt.

‘Remorseless’ Claire Scanlon, 38, was given the minimum-term life sentence for killing Dylan Scanlon, whose badly bruised body was found on her bed.

However, she refused to come out of her room at a secure hospital to appear via video-link.

Prosecutors told the court the mother had first informed her uncle in a nearby property that her son was ‘not breathing’ or ‘moving’ at 6.15pm on December 31, 2021.

Sadly, ‘cheeky, adventurous’ Dylan was pronounced dead three minutes after paramedics arrived at the house in Oldham, Greater Manchester.

Pathologists found the young boy had 64 separate injuries and a large amount of an antidepressant drug in his system, which experts claimed could have been fatal.

Scanlon had told paramedics that Dylan had fallen from the ladder to her attic the day before, and she had checked on him every 15 minutes before his death.

But after police arrested her, they found a note saying: ‘Don’t let them see us, just cremate us,’ which prosecutors said showed she’d planned to die alongside him.

Manchester Minshull Court also heard that Scanlon had inherited Huntington’s disease, a degenerative and incurable condition which slowly stops part of the brain working, from her mother, which she had called a ‘death sentence’.

And while Judge Mrs Justice Yip told Scanlon – who refused to attend the court – this may have affected her behaviour, she said it was no excuse for murdering her son.

She said: ‘You went from being a good mother who loved Dylan very much to murdering him.

‘I am sure that you gave Dylan a very large dose of your antidepressants, intending that he should die. You also hurt him, causing a lot of nasty bruising to his face and head through multiple blows.

‘The note found in your bedroom suggests you planned to die too.

‘It must have been frightening and upsetting when you started to get symptoms and realised you had it – you described Huntington’s as a death sentence.

‘But as the jury found in their verdict, it does not explain or excuse killing Dylan.

‘Because of your Huntington’s disease, you may not have a long life. It may be that you spend the rest of your life in prison or a secure hospital.’

Jurors reached their guilty verdict at 3.30pm on Wednesday – two days after they were first sent out by Judge Mrs Justice Yip at Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester.

Prosecutor Lisa Wilding had told the court Scanlon became ‘angry and depressed’ at the breakdown of her relationship with Dylan’s father, Gary Keenan, before the murder.

The couple first met in 2005 and had moved in together, but Mr Keenan had left their home for good following a ‘bitter’ split in 2020, four years after Dylan was born.

She said the mother was ‘obsessed’ with Mr Keenan, and in the two months prior to her son’s death, she’d sent voicemails and messages to him multiple times a day.

On December 15, 2021, she left him a voicemail message that said: ‘I promise you, you won’t see him again. You’ll see. Bye. Go and enjoy your life.’

Then on December 27, she left a message saying: ‘I promise you now, carry on treating me like a k**b h**d, I promise you’re never gonna see my son again.’

She added: ‘Treat me like a d**k, I’ll stop you from going near him.’

A few days later on December 30, she sent a final message that said: ‘You’re just showing all you want to do is act like me and Dyl weren’t in your life and crack on, make a new life with your new bird.

‘So you go and do that. I’ll solve it for you. Go and enjoy your new life with her.’

Ms Wilding told the court that Scanlon had picked up a repeat prescription for Mirtazapine, an antidepressant, 11 days before Dylan died.

And a blood sample found Dylan had 9,951 micrograms of the drug per litre of blood in his system.

Christopher Madden, a forensic toxicologist, who analysed samples of blood said this amount would be consistent with other fatalities from mirtazapine.

Mr Madden told the jury that the deaths of eight adults who overdosed on mirtazapine found they had 1,000 to 4,400 micrograms per litre of blood.

But he couldn’t tell how Dylan had ingested the mirtazapine and if it was taken in one single go or administered across multiple occasions.