Pictured: Mother who murdered her five-year-old son on New Year’s Eve by poisoning him with anti-depressants as she is jailed for 18 years
- Claire Scanlon, 38, was on Wednesday convicted of murdering her son Dylan, 5
- She poisoned him with anti-depressants and he died on NYE 2021 in Oldham
A terminally ill mother has been jailed for 18 years after she murdered her five-year-old son with anti-depressants in an apparent double suicide attempt.
‘Remorseless’ Claire Scanlon, 38, was given the minimum-term life sentence today for killing Dylan Scanlon, whose badly bruised body was found on her bed.
Prosecutors told the court the mother had first informed her uncle in a nearby property that her son was ‘not breathing’ or ‘moving’ at 6.15pm on December 31, 2021.
Sadly, ‘cheeky, adventurous’ Dylan was pronounced dead three minutes after paramedics arrived at the house in Oldham, Greater Manchester.
Pathologists found the young boy had 64 separate injuries and a large amount of an antidepressant drug in his system, which experts claimed could have been fatal.
Scanlon had told paramedics that Dylan had fallen from the ladder to her attic the day before, and she had checked on him every 15 minutes before his death.
But after police arrested her, they found a note saying: ‘Don’t let them see us, just cremate us,’ which prosecutors said showed she’d planned to die alongside him.
Manchester Minshull Court also heard that Scanlon had inherited Huntington’s disease, a degenerative and incurable condition which slowly stops part of the brain working, from her mother, which she had called a ‘death sentence’.
And while Judge Mrs Justice Yip told Scanlon – who refused to attend the court – this may have affected her behaviour, she said it was no excuse for murdering her son.
She said: ‘You went from being a good mother who loved Dylan very much to murdering him.
‘I am sure that you gave Dylan a very large dose of your antidepressants, intending that he should die. You also hurt him, causing a lot of nasty bruising to his face and head through multiple blows.
‘The note found in your bedroom suggests you planned to die too.
‘It must have been frightening and upsetting when you started to get symptoms and realised you had it – you described Huntington’s as a death sentence.
‘But as the jury found in their verdict, it does not explain or excuse killing Dylan.
‘Because of your Huntington’s disease, you may not have a long life. It may be that you spend the rest of your life in prison or a secure hospital.’
Dylan’s father Gary Keenan provided a statement to the court during the hearing, where he revealed his grief at never being able to see his son again.
He said: ‘Christmas was one of Dylan’s favourite times of the year.
‘He loved the lights, the sparkles and the presents. I had so many presents to give him, but his mum said I wasn’t allowed to see him.
‘So they were still at my home in the hope I could give them to him when I saw him next – but that never happened.
‘The hardest thing I’ve done was to give his presents away to a similar boy to Dylan.’
Mr Keenan added: ‘There will always be a massive hole in our hearts at the loss of Dylan, and we miss him every day.
‘I don’t feel I can mourn Dylan until the trial has been completed. We must keep fighting because he isn’t here to speak for himself.’
In a statement released by Greater Manchester Police, he added: ‘I would like to thank all my family and friends for the love and support they have offered, during what can only be described as the worst time in our lives.
‘Dylan was cruelly taken away from us on New Years Eve in 2021 by the one person who was supposed to love and protect him. He will be missed every minute of every day, and we cannot put into words how difficult it’s been to endure the trial and to listen to how Dylan came to his death.
‘We would like to thank Greater Manchester Police and the Crown Prosecution Service, who have been so supportive and guided us through the investigation and trial.’
Dylan’s brother Shawn Scanlon spoke directly to his mother during his emotional victim impact statement.
He said: ‘I do love you because you are my mum, but I don’t want you to hurt anyone else again, and I don’t want you to damage or upset the family any more.
‘We all need to live in peace and never experience the feelings we’ve had to in the last 19 months ever again.
‘You know Dylan will never have the chance to go on holiday, to have a career or to study, to have a family or to have challenges in life.
‘And you will never know the man that he would have become – that was taken away from him by you.’
Jurors reached their guilty verdict at 3.30pm on Wednesday – two days after they were first sent out by Judge Mrs Justice Yip at Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester.
Prosecutor Lisa Wilding had told the court Scanlon became ‘angry and depressed’ at the breakdown of her relationship with Dylan’s father, Gary Keenan, before the murder.
The couple first met in 2005 and had moved in together, but Mr Keenan had left their home for good following a ‘bitter’ split in 2020, four years after Dylan was born.
She said the mother was ‘obsessed’ with Mr Keenan, and in the two months prior to her son’s death, she’d sent voicemails and messages to him multiple times a day.
On December 15, 2021, she left him a voicemail message that said: ‘I promise you, you won’t see him again. You’ll see. Bye. Go and enjoy your life.’
Then on December 27, she left a message saying: ‘I promise you now, carry on treating me like a k**b h**d, I promise you’re never gonna see my son again.’
She added: ‘Treat me like a d**k, I’ll stop you from going near him.’
A few days later on December 30, she sent a final message that said: ‘You’re just showing all you want to do is act like me and Dyl weren’t in your life and crack on, make a new life with your new bird.
‘So you go and do that. I’ll solve it for you. Go and enjoy your new life with her.’
Ms Wilding told the court that Scanlon had picked up a repeat prescription for Mirtazapine, an antidepressant, 11 days before Dylan died.
And a blood sample found Dylan had 9,951 micrograms of the drug per litre of blood in his system.
Christopher Madden, a forensic toxicologist, who analysed samples of blood said this amount would be consistent with other fatalities from mirtazapine.
Mr Madden told the jury that the deaths of eight adults who overdosed on mirtazapine found they had 1,000 to 4,400 micrograms per litre of blood.
But he couldn’t tell how Dylan had ingested the mirtazapine and if it was taken in one single go or administered across multiple occasions.
Scanlon’s sister Susan Scanlon told the court that she had become more reclusive following her break-up with her ex-partner.
And during her emotional testimony she was unable to explain what had led to the death of Dylan – who she said was the centre of Scanlon’s world.
‘She was his life, and he was hers. I don’t know what went wrong,’ she said.
‘She wouldn’t answer her phone. She wouldn’t answer the door.’
Describing her sister’s behaviour in the month before Dylan’s death, Susan added: ‘She shut herself off to everybody. Absolutely everybody.’
Scanlon was detained under the mental health act and taken to Edenfield Hospital in Prestwich following her arrest.
And it’s there that support worker Joshua Davidson claims Scanlon had confessed to inflicting fatal injuries on Dylan by dropping him from her attic.
He previously told the court Scanlon said to him: ‘I killed my son.’
Senior Investigating Officer for Greater Manchester Police Phil Reade said: ‘Our thoughts remain with those who knew and loved Dylan – particularly his dad and brother.
‘We understand the conclusion of criminal proceedings will not heal their broken hearts but we do hope that this brings them a step closer to closure and gives them a sense of relief.’