Mother killed disabled son after suffering breakdown during lockdown

Olga Freeman has been sentenced for killing her son. (PA/Elizabeth Cook/Metropolitan Police)
Olga Freeman has been sentenced for killing her son. (PA/Elizabeth Cook/Metropolitan Police) (PA/Elizabeth Cook/Metropolitan Police)

A woman who killed her disabled 10-year-old son after suffering a mental breakdown during the coronavirus lockdown has been given a hospital order without a time limit.

Dylan Freeman was found in the master bedroom of his family's west London home, lying on his back, covered with a duvet and with parts of a sponge on this throat, surrounded by toys that had been placed around him.

He had died from restriction of the airways from pieces of sponge that he been stuffed in his mouth.

His mother, Olga Freeman, 40, had spoken about saving the world and being a messiah, saying in a voice recording: “This is my job: to sacrifice my beloved child to create a balance in this world.”

The court heard that Freeman developed psychotic symptoms under heavy stress brought about by last summer's lockdown, exacerbated by having to look after Dylan.

The Old Bailey heard previously that psychiatrists agreed her responsibility at the time of the killing was diminished as she was suffering from a “depressive illness with psychotic symptoms". She was sentenced on Thursday.

Dylan was found dead on 15 August last year at the Acton home. His father Dean, a celebrity photographer, was in Spain at the time.

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Olga Freeman admitted the manslaughter of 10-year-old Dylan. (PA/Metropolitan Police)
Olga Freeman admitted the manslaughter of 10-year-old Dylan. (PA/Metropolitan Police) (PA/Metropolitan Police)

The boy had been diagnosed with autism, global neurodevelopmental delay, progressive myopia and significant difficulties with language and communication, self-help and independence.

He needed constant care and went to a special school five days a week but had been unable to go in lockdown.

The court heard that Olga Freeman had struggled to meet Dylan's needs as he got older and her mental health suffered.

She called her friend just before midnight on 15 August, asking her friend Edita Surpickaja to go round.

The court heard Russian national Freeman warned her not to go in the bedroom, and said: "We need to go to Jerusalem. I did what I did. Sometimes when things are good it can be really evil."

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Srupickaja hid Freeman's passport and recorded a conversation on her phone in which she said she had killed Dylan and had no choice, before taking her to Acton police station.

Upon arrival, Freeman said loudly: “I have killed my child.”

Freeman said she killed Dylan before midnight, and given him melatonin tablets before using her bra and then her hands, and placed a sponge in his mouth.

She then placed his body where he liked to sleep with his toys and said that was so he could die with dignity and kindness.

Justice Cheema-Grubb said Freeman had reached her "wits' end" and added: “I have no doubt at all that you were a remarkably loving and dedicated mother to a vulnerable child until multiple pressures overwhelmed you and your mind was swamped by a destructive illness with florid psychotic elements.

“To some unknowable extent, it should be recognised that Dylan was an indirect victim of interruption to normal life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Ealing Council appeared to be "slow" in requests for funding support and a review is under way, the court heard.

Money was granted to fund a carer for 16 hours a week.

Dean Freeman criticised successive governments for the level of funding for services and said of his son: "The impact of losing a child is devastating and horrific.

“My son was sweet, artistic, gentle and very loving.

“Dylan was the delight of my life and always will be.

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