A mother who murdered her toddler on the day his father was applying to the Family Court to have more contact has been jailed for life with a minimum term of more than 18 years.
Carol Hodgson, 40, used a plastic bag to smother two-year-old Daniel Hodgson Green at her home in Upper Garth Gardens, Guisborough, North Yorkshire, and then tried to kill herself, leaving notes for her family.
The boy’s heartbroken father Stefan Green read a victim impact statement at Teesside Crown Court before his former partner was sentenced, expressing how much he wanted to be part of his son’s life, but that Hodgson had cut off all contact when Daniel was a baby.
Mr Green had attended the same court buildings on February 2 this year, expecting there to be a fact-finding family court hearing into the background of the dispute, only to be told his son had been killed.
In his moving statement, Mr Green told the judge: “I wish I could say more on Daniel’s personality but we only knew him as a baby before Carol disappeared with him and cut off all contact.
“He was my entire world, the day he was born I truly knew what love was, I knew what it felt like to have a higher purpose, to do everything within my power to give him the best life, one full of love and happiness.”
He added: “He was taken before he could know who he was, what he wanted to do with his life, and how much he meant to so many people.”
The emergency services arrived at Hodgson’s home to find her mother performing CPR on her in her bedroom, with a paramedic then noticing Daniel lying lifeless next to his mother.
Desperate attempts were made to save him at the scene and in hospital, but these were in vain.
Hodgson had inflicted cuts to her own neck and asked to be left to die, but she was taken to hospital and survived.
Alistair MacDonald QC, prosecuting, said the notes she left for her mother and other family members indicated she had planned the murder.
He said Mr Green had been deprived of contact since early 2020 when Hodgson moved, but did not provide him with her new address.
Mr Green was applying to have more access to his son and to stop her changing his surname, relocating or taking him on holiday without notifying him.
Mr MacDonald said: “It is no coincidence that she carried out the killing on the very morning the Family Court was due to hold a fact-finding hearing.”
Richard Wright QC, defending, said it was accepted by others that Hodgson loved her son and had shown genuine remorse.
He added: “The only explanation was she had developed a whole irrational and objectively unjustifiable but genuinely held belief that she was compelled to act as she did.”
Judge Paul Watson QC jailed her for life with a minimum term of 18 years and four months, saying the crime was aggravated by Daniel’s vulnerability, the abuse of trust and the premeditation, but mitigated by her guilty plea to murder.
He said: “It was not an act of mercy.
“It was a horrifying and truly awful crime.
“The fact that you genuinely intended to take your own life as well, which I accept to be true, offers no mitigation for the taking of Daniel’s.”