Mum Admits Killing Son

A woman from County Durham who strangled her toddler then carried him to a police station has been made subject to an indefinite hospital order.

Melanie Ruddell suffered a ``catastrophic mental breakdown'' in the days before she killed two-year-old Christy, a court heard.

Her family were so concerned about her behaviour that they asked the authorities for help, but their attempts failed.

Ruddell was charged with murder but a guilty plea to the lesser charge of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility was accepted by the prosecution at Newcastle Crown Court.

Ruddell and Christy's father Alan had lived in Castle Eden but their marriage was ending, and Melanie and Christy were staying with her brother in West Rainton.

Two days before Christy was killed, she was taken by ambulance to the University Hospital of Hartlepool after family members became worried about her, but she discharged herself.