Toddler spent weeks in hospital after salt poisoning by her own mother

The toddler spent weeks in Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool after her mother secretly poisoned her with salt.

The youngster was admitted to Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool for several weeks when she was 13 months old. (Reach)
The youngster was admitted to Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool for several weeks when she was 13 months old. (Reach) (Liverpool Echo)

A mother has been jailed for more than four years after poisoning her toddler with salt.

The ‘beautiful and happy’ child spent weeks in hospital vomiting almost every day with a mystery illness that turned out to be salt poisoning.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that the youngster was admitted to Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool were doctors eventually found that her mother had been secretly lacing her food with salt. She then tried to frame the girl's father for the crime.

The woman, who cannot be named to protect the child's identity, has now been jailed after pleading guilty to child cruelty and two counts of administering a noxious substance with intent to injure midway through a trial in September last year.

The court heard that the 34-year-old's relationship with her baby's father ended around three months after her birth in early 2018.

From that summer onwards, she was taken to the doctor and to Alder Hey "far more often than usually expected" with her mum "repeatedly reporting she was unwell from unknown causes".

The baby's mother was jailed at Liverpool Crown Court. (Reach)
The baby's mother was jailed at Liverpool Crown Court. (Reach) (Liverpool Echo)

In February 2019, the child first showed signs of nephrocalcinosis - a condition caused by excessive calcium intake and a symptom of "salt poisoning" - and was admitted to hospital the following month, where she stayed for around eight weeks.

The mother was allowed to continue to feed the youngster, who was described as "extremely thirsty", but she would "become distressed and begin vomiting some time after".

Samples taken by hospital staff showed abnormally high levels of sodium in the girl's blood and it was concluded that the "only rational explanation was she had been poisoned with salt".

Prosecutor Rebecca Smith said the father himself was treated as a suspect during Merseyside Police's investigation after the defendant "told everybody it was him hurting her".

Their daughter was placed into foster care for 18 months as a result, although she is now "loving life and enjoying herself" and has made a full recovery.

A statement from the father said: "I can't understand why she did this, but I believe it was to make me suffer. Why do that to her? Why hurt her to get at me?

"How long would she have put her through suffering, all for her own gain? It makes me feel sick thinking about what could have happened if she wasn't stopped."

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Sentencing, Judge Denis Watson KC said: "It paints an inescapably clear picture of a helpless 13-month-old infant being put in regular and repeated distress, solely because of your actions in putting excessive quantities of salt into her food."

He described the woman as a "highly manipulative individual" and added:"There were prolonged and multiple incidents, and this was serious cruelty.

"These are all grave offences. As her mother, you were in a position of trust - although I accept you did not intend to endanger her life, you risked a danger to life or serious permanent harm."

Julian Nutter, mitigating, told the court that his client appeared to be suffering from Munchausen syndrome - a rare psychological disorder in which a person fabricates or induces symptoms of illness in themselves.

He said: "This, on any view, is a tragic case - not only for the child concerned and the family but also for the defendant who, as a result of what she has done, has set a mechanism which will ensure she will never have a normal relationship with the child who she harmed.

"The background to this is somebody who has done a terrible thing, but someone who is a vulnerable person."

The woman was also handed an indefinite criminal behaviour order, restricting her contact with children, and a restraining order preventing her from contacting her daughter's father for life.