Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Erin Sutherland sentenced for killing baby daughter Chloe in Edinburgh

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Media captionErin Sutherland suffered postnatal depression

A mother who admitted killing her baby in Edinburgh after being unable to receive help for postnatal depression has been given a three-year sentence.

But the judge said she would only go to jail once she had completed hospital treatment for psychiatric difficulties.

Erin Sutherland, 36, covered the mouth and nose of almost 10-month-old Chloe at her Parkhead View home in February.

She was arrested for the murder of the baby but pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of culpable homicide.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard postnatal depression was no longer considered a factor after the child was more than six months old.

Judge Lady Wise said it was regrettable that the support Sutherland needed for her depression was not made available but she acted in a way society finds abhorrent.

Image caption Erin Sutherland smothered her almost 10-month-old's mouth and nose at her Parkhead View home

The judge made a direction which means Sutherland will go to hospital for treatment for her continuing mental difficulties and she will only go to jail if she is deemed fit during the period of the sentence.

A spokeswoman from Victim Support Scotland on behalf of Chloe's father Craig Steedman outside the court, said: "Chloe's father Craig and his family are upset and saddened that the focus of reports in this case turned to how the system had failed Erin Sutherland and not the death of his precious little girl.

"Chloe was the victim in this case - a beautiful, innocent child whose tragic, senseless death is impossible to accept.

"Craig and his family deeply regret that Erin felt unable to accept the help and support which they were desperate to provide. Sadly, she seemed determined that Chloe would never be a part of either his or his family's lives.

"The system may have failed Erin, however it also failed Craig as a father and most importantly it failed Chloe, his much loved little girl who will be forever missed."

Image caption Craig Steedman said he would forever miss his daughter

A court heard that Sutherland had previously received hospital treatment following the birth of an older daughter when she was again diagnosed with postnatal depression (PND) in 2006.

Her symptoms worsened when the child was eight months old and led to her becoming an inpatient.

This earlier episode of PND had involved Sutherland believing it would be better for her two children if she died and took them with her.

In December last year, when her family doctor contacted a perinatal mental health team for her to see a community psychiatric nurse (CPN) following a consultation support could not be offered because of the child's age.

Advocate depute Iain McSporran earlier told the High Court in Edinburgh there "appears to have been a severe recurrence of PND at the time of Chloe's death".

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