England

Dead child taken to Durham police station was strangled

A child who was pronounced dead after his mother carried him into a County Durham police station was strangled, a post-mortem examination has revealed.

Melanie Ruddell, 39, from Castle Eden, arrived at Peterlee police station on Monday with her two-year-old son, Christy. He was later confirmed dead.

She was arrested on suspicion of murder and was taken to a secure hospital.

A family member who was concerned for her welfare had taken her to hospital on Sunday night but she was discharged.

'Tragic incident'

A spokeswoman for the University Hospital of Hartlepool confirmed that Mrs Ruddell had been taken to the A&E department on Sunday, but she was released.

Det Supt Adrian Green said a post-mortem examination carried out on Monday at Sunderland Royal Hospital confirmed the boy had died as a result of being strangled.

Image caption Flowers have been left at the family's house

"This is a tragic incident which obviously has left both families concerned extremely shocked and distressed," he said.

"We believe the boy was already dead for some time before he and his mother arrived at the police station.

"At this stage we are still in the process of establishing what happened on Monday morning, and a major part of our investigation involves determining the exact location where the death took place.

"While we are not looking for anyone else in connection with the murder, we would like to hear from anyone who has information which might be useful."

Police said on Tuesday Mrs Ruddell had suffered injuries to her arms, which were believed to be self-inflicted.

Detectives are due to speak to her later, once they are given permission by medical staff.

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