Durham woman who caned son, 3, before murdering him is jailed for life

<span>Christina Robinson said she was following Christian scripture when she hit her son with a bamboo cane.</span><span>Photograph: Durham police/PA</span>
Christina Robinson said she was following Christian scripture when she hit her son with a bamboo cane.Photograph: Durham police/PA

A mother who beat her three-year-old son with a bamboo cane, claiming it was in line with Bible teaching, weeks before she murdered him, has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 25 years.

Christina Robinson exposed her son Dwelaniyah to cruelty and excruciating pain over several weeks before she shook him to death at the family home in County Durham in November 2022.

Mr Justice Garnham said she was guilty of a gross abuse of trust as the victim’s mother.

A trial at Newcastle crown court heard Robinson deliberately immersed him in scalding water, causing severe burns that left him in agony. She did not seek medical help because the danger to the child would have been obvious were a health worker to see him.

Robinson, a member of the Black Hebrew Israelite religious movement and originally from Tamworth in Staffordshire, admitted hitting the boy with a cane but claimed she was following a Bible text that advised the use of the rod for the “correction” of children.

She was convicted of murder and four child cruelty charges after a trial in March. The offences took place at the family home in Ushaw Moor, County Durham.

After Dwelaniyah’s violent death, investigators found a broken cane in her house that had traces of his skin and blood on it.

The jury found that Robinson caused a fatal brain injury to her son on 5 November 2022 while she was the only adult in the house.

It was more than 20 minutes before she dialled 999, first speaking to her husband on the phone despite him being 240 miles away serving with the RAF, and then using Google to look at how to resuscitate a child.

When the emergency services arrived, Robinson appeared calm as she explained her false version of events to a police officer while medics worked desperately on Dwelaniyah.

Despite their efforts at the scene, he could not be saved and probably died at the house, though further attempts to resuscitate him were made in hospital. A postmortem revealed he had suffered a series of assaults.

Richard Wright KC, prosecuting, said: “In other words, somebody had been deliberately hurting this little boy and had been doing so over a period of time. That person was his mother, the defendant Christina Robinson.”

In his closing speech, Wright told the court that Dwelaniyah was “subjected to a campaign of violence and cruelty by his mother for petty wrongs”.

Robinson was convicted in March but the judge delayed sentencing to allow her time to seek legal representation after she parted with her team just before the end of the trial.

She was also convicted of child neglect by leaving Dwelaniyah at home while she pursued an affair behind her husband’s back.