Mother accused of murder admits caning son as Bible allowed it, court hears

A mother accused of murdering her three-year-old son admits hitting him with a bamboo cane but says she was allowed to because the Bible told her “she should chastise her child”, a court heard.

Christina Robinson, 30, denies murdering Dwelaniyah at the family home in Bracken Court, Durham, in November 2022. She also denies a child cruelty offence.

Richard Wright KC, prosecuting, told Newcastle Crown Court that the little boy died from a head injury after he was violently shaken while in the sole care of his mother.

When the emergency services attended the property they found the three-year-old was heavily bandaged on his legs.

A post-mortem examination showed he had tramline bruising on his body.

Mr Wright told jurors: “In this case the little boy had been repeatedly beaten with a bamboo cane by his mother.

“A cane stained with his blood and with his body tissue attached to it was recovered from the family home.

“The defendant admits that she hit him with a weapon but says that she was allowed to do so because the Bible tells her that she should chastise her child.”

Robinson had contacted the emergency services by ringing 112 and told the call handler her son was not breathing and his eyes had gone “all weird”.

When paramedics arrived she claimed he had been eating a cheese bun when he suddenly went limp and collapsed.

Newcastle Crown Court
The mother is on trial at Newcastle Crown Court (Hugh Macknight/PA)

She explained that Dwelaniyah was bandaged because he had burned himself “while messing about in the shower” weeks earlier.

She explained she had not taken him to hospital because the burns had caused him no problems and she was able to treat him at home, the court heard.

Doctors working on her son at the house quickly wanted him to be transferred to hospital as his heart had stopped.

Further attempts were made at hospital but he could not be saved.

A post-mortem examination revealed he had been the victim of a series of assaults and had sustained a number of non-accidental injuries, the jury was told.

Mr Wright 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.”

Mr Wright said the burns on his legs, buttocks and genitals would have caused “excruciating pain” when they were inflicted and in the days afterwards, and that would have been obvious to his mother.

Mr Wright added: “This was a mother who could not possibly take her son to hospital because she knew that questions would immediately be raised as to how on earth this little boy had sustained those terrible injuries, not to mention the others caused by her beating him with regularity.”

The pattern of the burns showed they were caused by Dwelaniyah being “deliberately and forcibly immersed in scalding water”.

And the final, fatal injury was not caused by the three-year-old choking on a cheese bun, the court heard.

Mr Wright said: “Dwelaniyah died not from eating a cheese bap but because at the point of his terminal collapse, or very shortly before it occurred, he had sustained a major head injury.

“It was not an accidental head injury.

“It was one that had been quite deliberately inflicted upon him by the application of significant force.

“There was damage seen in both his brain and in his eyes.

“In combination these findings suggest a significant head injury in which trauma had been caused by excessive and forceful movement of the head of the type you might see in very forceful shaking.”

The prosecution opening continues on Tuesday afternoon.