A mother who drowned her four-year-old daughter in the bath and placed her on a coffee table before setting her alight to make her a “human sacrifice” has been found not guilty of murder.
She was convicted of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and was sectioned to a psychiatric hospital indefinitely at Newport Crown Court today.
The jury returned a “special verdict” after hearing that psychiatrists – appearing for both the prosecution and defence – agreed Harris was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.
Kate Brunner, defending, said:
“In taking her daughter’s life she destroyed her own life and brought unimaginable horror to her friends and family.
“She is profoundly remorseful and I invite the court to reflect that.”
“Amelia was four years old when she was killed.
“She placed her body on a coffee table situated in the garden and then set fire to Amelia’s body.”
The court heard the mum told cops who found the four-year-old’s charred body under a sheet on a coffee table in the garden the angels had told her to do it.
The jury was told Harris believed she had to kill her child in order to protect her and save the world.
Dr Arden Tomison, a forensic consultant psychologist who examined the mum last month, told jurors she still believed there had been a “terrible mistake” and people “misunderstood her“.
The doctor added:
“She was still delusional and still suffering from a psychotic illness. She knew that’s what people thought but she couldn’t quite get that.
“She was very sure she had been instructed by God. I am clear in my mind that she was driven to this by her own belief system.”
Dr Tomison also told the court he believed Harris developed her mental illness around two months before she killed Amelia after she told him she was possessed by the spirit of an angel during Passover.
Jurors previously heard how Harris told cops who found the four-year-old’s charred body under a sheet on a coffee table in the garden “I’m a monster”.
When she was taken to the police station, she allegedly said:
“I deserve to die. What the f***? My little girl. The angels said it must be done.”
The jury was told neighbour Megan Griffiths heard a raised voice saying “mummy, mummy, mummy” before they heard screaming and found Harris standing in the front garden.
She told them: “God will be with her. The angels have taken her.”
They went into the back garden and found the little girl’s charred body.