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Mum who drowned 2-year-old son in bath ‘to protect him from demons’ is detained

Natalie Steele, 31, admitted the manslaughter of her son Reid (Pictures: Wales News Service)

A mum who drowned her two-year-old son in the bath ‘to send him to heaven’ after becoming paranoid her family were possessed by spirits has been detained under the Mental Health Act.

Natalie Steele, 31, admitted the manslaughter of her son Reid, who was found unresponsive at her family home on Parkwood Heights, Bridgend, on the evening of August 11 last year.

He was declared dead in hospital the following day.

Steele, who had recently converted to Christianity, had reported delusions in the months before the killing including seeing floating orbs and a belief in demons. After her arrest, she told police she needed to protect her son by sending him to heaven.

She had to be admitted to hospital from prison because she was refusing to eat or drink, telling staff she had to fast for 40 days so she could join Reid in heaven.

Two forensic psychiatrists agreed Steele was suffering from an undiagnosed and untreated mental illness at the time of the killing, and the Crown Prosecution Service did not seek a trial for murder.

Detaining Steele under Section 37 and 41 of the Mental Health Act at Cardiff Crown Court on Tuesday, Judge Michael Fitton QC described the case as ‘a profound human tragedy’.

Judge Fitton remarked that many people who knew Steele had described her as a ‘devoted’ and a ‘wonderful mother’.

‘It is a profound human tragedy that it was you who loved (Reid) so dearly that caused this loss of life,’ he said.

‘You did so when you were suffering a period of serious and severe mental illness – that is the clear opinion of the professionals.’

He continued: ‘You were subject to visual and auditory hallucinations and you had paranoid beliefs and you were operating under the terrible mistake that your own family that loved Reid as dearly as you did wanted to harm him.’

The nature of the judge’s order means Steele will not be sent to prison when she is deemed fit to be released from hospital.

During the sentencing hearing, the court heard Steele had told her mother Amanda Prescott, that she had been ‘seeing lights’ and told her ‘demons are dark and real’.

Steele also told Mrs Prescott ‘the rooms feel different’.

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