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Mother who suffocated disabled son sentenced to indefinite hospital order

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A mother who suffocated her disabled 10-year-old son during lockdown has been sentenced to a hospital order without limit of time.

Olga Freeman, 40, killed her son Dylan at their home in Acton, west London, on 15 August last year.

She admitted manslaughter and today appeared at the Old Bailey via video link for sentencing.

Olga Freeman, 40, is charged with murdering her 10-year-old son Dylan in west London. Pic: Facebook
Image:
Dylan Freeman was killed last August. Pic: Facebook

Describing the case as “rare and desperately sad”, the judge said the burden of looking after Dylan had taken its toll on Freeman.

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb said the mother had been left “at her wits’ end” and “exhausted” by the summer of 2020.

Dylan had been diagnosed with autism, global neurodevelopmental delay and progressive myopia, and had significant difficulties with his speech and communication.

He needed round-the-clock care and had been attending a special school five days a week but was unable to go during lockdown.

Russian-born Freeman had a history of depression and had struggled more with her son during the pandemic until she suffered a mental breakdown, the court heard.

Psychiatrist Dr Martin Lock found Freeman “developed psychotic symptoms when under very heavy stress because of the COVID-19 lockdown”.

Olga Freeman was married to celebrity photographer Dean Freeman. Pic: Facebook
Image:
Olga Freeman had suffered a mental breakdown. Pic: Facebook

Last August, the mother walked into a police station to report she had killed her son.

Police later found Dylan’s body in his bedroom, surrounded by his toys.

A post-mortem found he died from restriction of the airways after pieces of sponge were stuffed in his mouth.

Speaking at the sentencing, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb told Freeman: “I have no doubt at all that you were a remarkably loving and dedicated mother to a vulnerable child until multiple pressures overwhelmed you and your mind was swamped by a destructive illness with florid psychotic elements.

“To some unknowable extent, it should be recognised that Dylan was an indirect victim of interruption to normal life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Police and paramedics found Dylan dead at his home in Cumberland Park, Acton
Image:
Police and paramedics found Dylan dead at his home in Acton

The court heard requests were made to increase support for Dylan’s care but Ealing Council appeared to be “slow” in responding.

Prosecutor Gareth Patterson QC said: “The role of the council does seem to have been a further source of stress for the defendant at what was a very difficult time.”

At the time of Dylan’s death, his father and celebrity photographer Dean Freeman was in Spain.

Mr Freeman paid tribute to his son in a statement, describing him as “sweet, artistic, gentle and very loving”.

“Dylan was the delight of my life and always will be. I miss my son and I would have had many more holidays with him, I would have taken him to many more art galleries, gone swimming in the sea,” he said.

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