Childminder who shook baby boy to death 'out of frustration' jailed for 12 years

13 June 2024, 13:12 | Updated: 13 June 2024, 13:40

Karen Foster shook baby Harlow Collinge to death after he fell out of his high chair and started crying
Karen Foster shook baby Harlow Collinge to death after he fell out of his high chair and started crying. Picture: Police

By Asher McShane

A childminder who shook a baby boy to death has been jailed for 12 years.

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Karen Foster, 63, was jailed at Preston Crown Court today for 12 years and seven months for the manslaughter of nine-month-old boy Harlow Collinge who was in her care.

Harlow, who died after four days in hospital, had suffered a traumatic brain injury caused by “forceful shaking” while in her care.

She had initially been charged with murder but prosecutors accepted a manslaughter plea after Foster admitted she had shaken Harlow in frustration after he toppled over out of his high chair and began crying.

Foster 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 the baby's 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 bitch! I hate you!" as Foster was led away from the dock after being sentenced by Mr Justice Barry Cotter.

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) 10-month-old child so violently to cause devastating injuries. His death was caused in the course of an assault."

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