Dad said he hated baby Leiland Corkill and wanted to return him to care system

A man accused of allowing the death of a baby boy he was planning to adopt told a court he hated the child at times.

But Scott Castle, 34, denies knowing Leiland-James Corkill was at risk of serious harm from his wife Laura Castle, 38, who earlier admitted shaking the little boy to death when he spat out Weetabix. He said: “I never thought she would hurt him.”

13-month-old Leiland-James dies from non-accidental injuries inflicted by Laura Castle at their home in Eskdale Avenue, Barrow-in-Furness on January 6 last year. The couple were in the process of adopting Leiland-James, who was in the care of Cumbria County Council.

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But within weeks of being placed with Mr and Mrs Castle, Laura admitted ‘leathering’ him. In text messages to her husband, Mrs Castle said she was ‘drained with it all’ and that she needed to stop smacking the nine-month-old baby.

“If I start I won’t stop at one point”, she said. In the same text conversation Mrs Castle said she felt like she was failing as a mum, but Mr Castle told her she was ‘amazing’.

Speaking from the witness box at Preston Crown Court, Mr Castle said he thought his wife was overtired and venting on text message. He insisted any physical chastisement to Leiland-James was “just a smack on the bum” and said he thought they were doing the right thing.

The court heard excerpts from a pre-adoption report in which both parents said they did not condone physical chastisement and would find other ways to deal with challenging behaviour. But Mr Castle admitted they would give Leiland-James a tap on the hand or a smack on the bottom five or six times a week.

In December Mrs Castle texted her husband, who was on a night shift at BAE Systems, telling him: “He just had another shite. I really lost the plot and leathered him. I’m at my wits’ end. I’m a midge’s d*ck away from ringing Penny [the social worker] to come and get him.”

Mr Castle replied: “He’s becoming a right d*ck. I don’t like him at the moment either.”

But he told the court he thought his wife was exaggerating. In other messages, Mrs Castle told her husband: “I don’t want to be this mum at all. I really hate him. The more he does it the more I don’t want to do this anymore. He makes me so angry”.

She also said: “No-one tells you about this shit. I’m just an abusive parent so it seems.”

Mr Castle told the court he and his wife had discussed returning Leiland-James to his foster carers and said they had decided to give it till after Christmas and New Year to make a decision. However he said he did not believe they were at crisis point.

Prosecutor Michael Brady QC asked Mr Castle: “How much clearer did Laura have to make it that Leiland-James was in danger?”

Mr Castle replied: “I never thought he was in danger. I always thought Laura was just venting at me.”

Laura Castle admits manslaughter but denies murdering Leiland-James. Scott Castle denies causing or allowing the death of a child. Both deny cruelty.

(Proceeding)

Lancs Live – Cumbria