Childminder killed baby after he toppled out of high chair

Harlow Collinge and Karen Foster
-Credit: (Image: Lancashire Police/PA)

A childminder has admitted the manslaughter of a baby boy in her care. Karen Foster, 62, was due to go on trial at Preston Crown Court for the murder of nine-month-old Harlow Collinge in March 2022.

On Friday, ahead of a jury being sworn in, Foster entered a plea of guilty to the manslaughter of Harlow, which was accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service following discussions with the youngster's family. Her basis of plea for manslaughter was that "forceful shaking" of Harlow caused his death after he had toppled over out of his high chair, began crying and she shook him in frustration, the court heard.

Harlow had been dropped off at the defendant's address in Hapton, Burnley, Lancashire, on March 1, 2022. Later that day she called 999 and told the operator that Harlow was not breathing, the court was told, and went on to inform a paramedic he had suddenly collapsed.

Harlow was rushed to hospital, but died four days later. In legal argument this week the court heard a CT scan of the infant's head showed significant injuries to the brain, with bleeding on both sides and swelling. Harlow had been described as a "healthy and happy boy" prior to the traumatic injuries he suffered.

Addressing Foster who appeared in the dock with crutches, Mr Justice Cotter told her: "I am sure you have been advised that the likely sentence is one of a substantial period in custody and you should be well aware of that."

Foster, a registered childminder with nine years' experience, was further remanded in custody ahead of sentencing next Thursday. She also faced a further allegation of assaulting a two-year-old girl in her care in 2019. Prosecutor Anne Whyte KC told the judge the Crown will ask for that count to lie on file.