A foster mum planning to adopt a baby – removed from his heartbroken mum at birth – had secret anger issues and binged on six bottles of wine a week before she murdered him, a review has found.
Laura Castle sent chilling messages to her husband, Scott telling him 13-month-old Leiland-James Corkill was a "top t**t," "k*** head" and "devil's spawn" within just weeks of taking him in.
The 38-year-old even messaged him to say she'd "leathered" the baby and was at her "wit's end."
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"I'm just an abusive parent so it seems," she added to the harrowing message.
The tot was taken from his biological mother, Laura Corkill just after he was born and placed into the care of the Castle's in August 2020.
But on January 6 2021, paramedics found Leiland-James unresponsive when they arrived at the couple's home in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, with the baby having suffered catastrophic injuries to his brain, spine and eyes.
In May, Castle was convicted of murder and sentenced to at least 18 years behind bars.
A child safeguarding practice review into the case has today revealed Castle was receiving "talking therapy" with an NHS-commissioned service when she applied in January 2019 to be an adoptive parent, the Mirror reports.
The "critical information" disclosed in the sessions, which included revelations about her anger and drinking, was not shared with her GP or the adoption panel which went on to approve her.
The review added: "…she was often irritable and short-tempered, including shouting too much at her young child.
"She spoke about feeling judged by other parents and that she avoided company. She also reported drinking six bottles of wine a week which impacted on her motivation and mood, although she denied it had an impact on her parenting."
The Castles did not give a full picture about their financial situation either, which included significant loans and credit card debt, despite going through a full eight-month assessment and approval process involving criminal record checks, multiple references and extensive training.
Report author Nicki Pettitt said: "What was not known at the time was that the prospective adopters had not been honest about their debt, their mental and physical health, their alcohol consumption and use of physical chastisement during the assessment, at the time of Leiland-James being matched with them or during his time living with the family."
A number of national recommendations have now been made, including the need for all health information for adopters and children in the family to be updated and reconsidered at key points in the case.
During the murder trial, it was the prosecution's case that Castle killed the boy as she lost her temper and suggested she smashed the back of his head against a piece of furniture.
But Catle claimed she had shaken Leiland-James because he would not stop crying, and his head hit the armrest of the sofa before he fell off her knee on to the floor.
Jurors unanimously found her guilty of murder and a separate offence of child cruelty.
Her husband Scott Castle was acquitted of allowing Leiland-James's death and child cruelty.
Today, Leiland-James' birth mother spoke of how she thought the baby being taken from her was a temporary measure while she was receiving care from domestic violence charity Women Out West following an abusive relationship.
She even painted his bedroom for when he would be returned.
"I remember his big bright eyes. I was happy, full of joy. I was looking forward to bringing my baby home," she said.
"I jumped through every hoop to bring Leiland-James home."
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