Leiland-James Corkill: Foster mother who shook baby to death filmed pulling faces as distressed child cries

·3 min read

A foster mother who shook to death a baby she was hoping to adopt videoed herself pulling faces while a child lay crying in a hospital bed, it has emerged.

Laura Castle, 38, was found guilty of murdering 13-month-old Leiland-James Corkill last week after a court heard she had “leathered” the child, who suffered fatal head injuries.

New footage shows the former care worker making bizarre expressions at a camera while a child, who is not Leiland-James, can be heard crying nearby.

In other videos, Leiland-James can be seen sobbing uncontrollably as Castle attempts to “shush” him, while in another she wipes away his tears as he sits in a baby bouncer.

The toddler had been placed in the care of Laura Castle and her husband, Scott Castle, 35, in August 2020.

But just five months later, on 6 January 2021, paramedics found the tot unresponsive and floppy when they attended the couple’s home in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

Leiland-James died the following day after doctors found his heart wasn’t beating and he had a head injury, which Laura Castle said he sustained by falling from a sofa.

But the court heard how she had then searched online for what might cause a bleed on the brain while the youngster lay in hospital and her story began to unravel.

And later a post-mortem examination finding confirmed he had suffered a traumatic head injury, which wasn’t caused by accident.

Laura Castle, 38, videoed herself pulling faces while a child lay crying in a hospital bed (SWNS)
Laura Castle, 38, videoed herself pulling faces while a child lay crying in a hospital bed (SWNS)

During her trial at Preston Crown Court, the foster mother pleaded guilty to manslaughter, after admitting she shook the baby so he would “stop crying”.

But text messages exchanged between Castle and her husband revealed she had referred to Leiland-James as a “proper n**head”, a “d***” and a s******bag”.

She also admitted to “smacking” the child in the messages.

In one text she wrote: “I honestly really don’t like him lately, hes an absolute moaning winge bag and I totally regret doin this [sic].

“I’m goin to lose my mind. He just p***** me off all the time, can never just have a nice day or night ever.

“Although I need to stop smacking him cos if I start I’ll not stop at one point and it’s not getting us anywhere and then I feel bad.”

The court also heard a social worker had reported concerns about the foster mother after she branded the baby “lazy” and “big”.

Leiland-James Corkill was on a life-support machine in hospital with catastrophic head injuries (Supplied)
Leiland-James Corkill was on a life-support machine in hospital with catastrophic head injuries (Supplied)

A review then took place where officials told the couple they would not support permanently placing Leiland-James with them unless they undertook therapeutic work.

But the court heard the couple instead ploughed ahead with the adoption proceedings.

The couple exchanged further texts on 25 September 2020, with Laura telling her husband she had “leathered” Leiland-James again as she was at her “wits end”.

She added: “I’m just an abusive parent so it seems.”

A jury found Laura Castle guilty of murdering Leiland-James, while Scott Castle was acquitted.

Following the verdict, Joanne Close, senior crown prosecutor with CPS North, called Laura Castle “self-centred, abusive and violent”.

Leiland-James had been placed with Laura Castle and her husband by authorities in Cumbria less than five months before his death from catastrophic head injuries (SWNS)
Leiland-James had been placed with Laura Castle and her husband by authorities in Cumbria less than five months before his death from catastrophic head injuries (SWNS)

She said: “His birth mother believed he would be safe and have a good life.

“His foster parents cared for and loved him for eight months; they described him as a beautiful little boy with the most contagious laugh.

“But his life was cruelly cut short by the actions of Laura Castle; she was self-centred, abusive and violent and unfit to provide a home to this vulnerable child.

“The Crown Prosecution Service worked very closely with Cumbria Police to build the strongest possible case to secure justice for Leiland-James.

“Laura Castle was given no option but to admit at the start of the trial that she had caused his death.

“The jury had the evidence they needed to find her guilty of his murder.

“I hope... [the] conviction provide some comfort to those that loved Leiland-James. My thoughts are with them.”

Additional reporting by SWNS