Childminder branded ‘monster’ as she is jailed for shaking baby to death

Childminder branded monster as she is jailed for shaking baby to death
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A childminder who violently shook a baby boy in her care so hard he died has been jailed, as his family branded her a “monster” and “pure evil”.

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Karen Foster, 63, left Harlow Collinge with unsurvivable brain injuries after he had been dropped off at her home by his mother Gemma Collinge, a court heard.

After paramedics were called and Harlow rushed away by ambulance Foster hugged his mother at the hospital and claimed the youngster had begun choking and she had slapped him on the back.

But she later tried to blame Ms Collinge for the injuries.

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Harlow – who had been described as a “healthy and happy boy” prior to the traumatic injuries he suffered on 1 March 2022 – died days later in his parents’ arms having suffered massive brain injuries.

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Foster was sentenced to 12 years and seven months imprisonment at Preston Crown Court on Thursday for his manslaughter.

Harlow had been described as a ‘healthy and happy boy’ prior to the traumatic injuries he suffered on 1 March 2022
Harlow had been described as a ‘healthy and happy boy’ prior to the traumatic injuries he suffered on 1 March 2022 (PA Media)

Harlow’s mother, father Allen Frangleton, older siblings and wider family, sat in the public gallery, weeping as Foster’s case was heard and their victim impact statements were read out on their behalf.

Harlow’s mother Gemma Collinge said: “The actions she has taken over the past few years make me sick. It is pure evil and twisted to put a whole family through what she did. This monster Karen Foster deserves nothing. I hope her actions haunt her … It is now too late, there is no forgiveness.”

She called Foster’s lies and attempts to comfort her in hospital “despicable”.

The judge similarly highlighted the defendant’s lies when he passed her sentence.

Mr Justice Cotter KC also said: “In my judgement, you have high culpability – you shook a baby so hard as to cause devastating injury.”

Describing Harlow as previously “happy and healthy”, he concluded that Foster shook him “so violently as to cause him a devastating brain injury. His death was caused in the course of an assault.”

He added that Foster, despite ill health and pain in her hip, chose to carry on looking after more children than she should have under Ofsted rules, and this contributed to her “loss of temper”, with Harlow “on the receiving end”.

Ms Collinge similarly described Harlow as a previously “happy, smiling baby, whose giggle was infectious”, adding: “Right from the day he was born, I fell in love with him.”

Speaking of how the family were now in a “living nightmare”, Ms Collinge said: “I miss my boy more than life itself – the last two years have been hell, I am struggling to cope.”

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She also spoke of the “guilt” she felt, having made arrangements to move him to a nursery six weeks after first using Foster as a childminder, due to her own concerns about the number of children being looked after.

Relatives of the baby shouted, “Scumbag b****! I hate you!” as Foster, herself a mother-of-two and grandmother, was led away from the dock after being sentenced.

She had been accused of murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter just before her trial started last week, for the first time admitting “forceful shaking” of Harlow causing his death, after he had toppled over out of his high chair, began crying and she shook him in frustration.

Foster was a registered childminder with nine years’ experience who had been breaking Ofsted rules on the numbers and ages of children she should be caring for, to make more money from parents, the court heard.

Earlier Anne Whyte KC, prosecuting, said when Foster first registered in 2014, she did not say she was married and lived with her husband or that she sometimes sought help with childminding from other unregistered individuals, or that her health was poor.

In fact, she made two benefit claims for Personal Independence Payments in 2018 and 2022, claiming she felt constantly drowsy and tired, that sometimes she could barely move, or safely carry out daily living activities.

On 1 March 2022, Foster was looking after two children aged four, and two children under 12 months including Harlow, – breaking the rules of her registration with Ofsted. She was only allowed by the regulator to care for one child under 12 months old.

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 at her home in Hapton, Burnley, Lancashire.

When paramedics arrived, Harlow’s skin was purple and mottled, he had no pulse, was not breathing and his pupils were fixed.

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As he was rushed to the Royal Blackburn Hospital, Foster told medics that Harlow’s mother had said the youngster had been unwell recently.

But Ms Whyte said the truth began to emerge as scans were taken of the boy, showing significant injuries to his brain, associated with the shaking of a baby, with bleeding on both sides and swelling.

Harlow died four days later.

Foster was arrested on suspicion of causing Harlow grievous bodily harm.



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