Readers have set up a petition to free from jail a Lincolnshire mum who tried to kill herself and her baby son, and assist with mental health support instead.
The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was jailed for four years after pleading guilty to the attempted murder of her two-year-old son.
She attempted suicide and devised a method to kill both herself and her child in their South Lincolnshire home on May 7 this year, during the first lockdown.
She then had a sudden change of heart and instead rang for help, keeping herself and her child alive before telling nurses at hospital what she had done.
The court was told the woman was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2019, brought on after years of abuse and domestic violence by the child’s father, which caused her to act this way.
Her solicitor said the relationship with the father was an abusive one, with threats of violence, harassment and sexual violence. After breaking up, she lived in a refuge for a time.
Before lockdown the father was spending supervised time with the boy, which was then interrupted by the nationwide house curfew, and was only relaxed from June.
But in May 2020 she believed that as lockdown eased, the time the father spent with the boy would resume — so her desperate act stemmed from there.
She told nurses at Peterborough City Hospital that she wanted to take her own life and take her son with her, but she was scared that nobody would look after him.
She said she wanted to kill herself as she was scared and worried about the boy’s dad, but when the boy started to cry she couldn’t go on with it.
The court heard the woman took responsibility for what she did and has since shown remorse.
Readers were outraged at the verdict, with Rachael Nel commenting: “She doesn’t need prison she needs continued support!
“Her poor boy will now not have his mum there for a few years and probably feel so confused and abandoned.
“She managed to stop herself and seek help. Why isn’t she now being given that help?”
Teresa Lisi agreed, saying: “The very fact that she did not go through with it, should have saved her from prison.
“The fact that she was pushed far enough to think of it, proves she is in desperate need of help.”
Kathleen Wilcox added: “How will four years without his mother help this tiny child? She needs support, not punishment.”
In response to The Lincolnite‘s story on the court case, Kirsty Smith set up a petition to free the woman, which had just over 100 signatures in less than 24 hours at the time of writing.
The petition, ‘The UK British Criminal Justice System criminalising the mentally ill is wrong’, aims to have the prison sentence overturned, instead offering mental health support to the mother.
The petition calls on Kit Malthouse, Minister for Crime and Policing, saying: “It is clear that this woman was struggling with her mental health. She did not follow through with her plan. She was honest to all agencies involved in her case.
“This woman needs support and help, not criminalisation for feeling suicidal during a global pandemic.
“We are calling on the government to look into this case and advocate for the release of this woman, and to offer the mental health support she badly needs.”
A petition commenter sympathised with the mother: “This could very easily have been me. Postnatal depression was horrendous and I wasn’t in lockdown.
“New mothers need their village around them and to be supported through the massive life shift that is new motherhood, not criminalised for suffering.”