London

Toddler 'bleach' bottle drink: Elaine Joyner unfit to plead

A woman accused of giving a toddler a bottle believed to contain bleach has been told she is unfit to plead.

Elaine Joyner, 53, of Vaughan Williams Close, Deptford, south-east London, is charged with administering poison or a noxious substance to endanger life.

At Woolwich Crown Court, Judge Andrew Lees ruled she was unfit to plead in the case, but said his reasons could not currently be reported.

A trial has gone ahead in Ms Joyner's absence.

'Mentally ill'

The 11-month-old boy was with his mother and grandmother in McDonald's on Eltham High Street, south-east London, when the incident happened on 13 September last year.

The boy swallowed some of the contents before vomiting and being taken to hospital.

The judge told the jury: "In this case the defendant has been found by me to be unfit to stand her trial.

"I have decided on the evidence of two specialist medical practitioners, one instructed by the defence, one by the prosecution, that she is mentally ill, such that she cannot understand the proceedings, cannot understand the evidence, and cannot give valid instructions to her legal team."

'Frothy' drink

In such circumstances there will not be a finding of guilty or not guilty, but the jury will decide whether she committed the act.

During the trial, a statement read to the court from the boy's grandmother said: "I reached for a bottle that was in his pram. As I looked into it I noticed it was orange in colour with white milk particles in it. It was extremely frothy on the top.

"I realised that he had drunk something that we had not given him.

"Three black girls said that a woman had walked past and given him a bottle."

The court heard Ms Joyner's partner Fred Warwick, 68, said he had gone out that day and Ms Joyner had told him she would be at home for most of the day, but later in the evening said she had "popped out" to Eltham.

The trial continues.

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