Childminder jailed for 12 years after shaking baby boy to death

Karen Foster, 63, claimed Harlow Collinge had choked on pasta but later admitted to shaking the nine-month-old baby.

Childminder Karen Foster, 63, jailed for 12 years after shaking baby boy to death Lancashire Police

A childminder who shook a nine-month-old boy to death has been jailed for 12 years and seven months.

Karen Foster, 63, left Harlow Collinge with unsurvivable brain injuries after he had been dropped off at her home with her by his mother Gemma Collinge, Preston Crown Court heard.

After paramedics were called and Harlow rushed away by ambulance Foster hugged his mother at the hospital and claimed the youngster had begun choking and she had slapped him on the back.

But she later tried to blame Ms Collinge for the injuries.

Harlow, who was injured on March 1, 2022, died days later in his parents’ arms having suffered massive brain injuries.

Foster, despite claiming benefits for ill health, was a registered childminder who had been breaking Ofsted rules on the numbers and ages of children she should be caring for, to make more money from parents, the court heard.

She had been accused of murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter just before her trial started last week, for the first time admitting “forceful shaking” of Harlow causing his death.

Relatives of the baby shouted, “Scumbag b***h! I hate you!” as Foster was led away from the dock after being sentenced by Mr Justice Barry Cotter.

Harlow Collinge was described as a 'happy, smiley baby'.Lancashire Police

Passing sentence, the judge described Harlow as a “happy, healthy, much-loved” boy, but said that Foster, despite ill health and pain in her hip, chose to carry on looking after more children than she should have under Ofsted rules, and this contributed to her “loss of temper”.

He said: “You should have been a safe pair of hands to which Gemma Collinge could ensure her precious child.

“I have no doubt you snapped on the 1st of March 2022, in part due to the fact that you were not coping with the demands of caring for four children. You lost your temper and he was on the receiving end.

“You shook an (almost) ten-month-old child so violently to cause devastating injuries. His death was caused in the course of an assault.”

Harlow’s mother, father Allen Frangleton, older siblings and wider family, sat in the public gallery, weeping as Foster’s case was heard and their victim impact statements read out.

Ms Collinge’s statement read: “How do I explain losing my son in such horrific circumstances? Harlow was enjoying his little life. He was a happy smiling baby.”

She also spoke of the “guilt” she felt, having made arrangements to move him to a nursery six weeks after first using Foster as a childminder, due to her own concerns about the number of children being looked after.

“All the red flags I missed,” she continued before recalling Foster trying to comfort her at the hospital, claiming Harlow had choked on pasta.

She added: “She even put her arms around me. I can’t think of anything more evil. It is despicable. I blame myself every day for my son’s death. This monster, Karen Foster, deserves nothing. I hope her actions haunt her.”

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