Killer Sheffield daughter loses jail sentence appeal

Police outside 93- year-old Gladys Allen's Fulwood home
Police outside 93- year-old Gladys Allen's Fulwood home
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A ‘caring and loving’ daughter who beat her 93-year-old Sheffield mother to death has failed in a bid to challenge her sentence.

Susan Catherine Potts, who had depression, attacked Gladys Allen with a heavy vase at her mother’s home in Fulwood.

The 65-year-old, from Middlesex, had moved in with her mother she had a fall and was her main carer – which she found a ‘stressful experience’.

She admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and was handed a hospital order at Sheffield Crown Court in December last year.

The court heard Mrs Allen was ‘frail’ but in reasonable health for her age and lived with her grandson on Crimicar Lane.

After she fell in November 2013, Potts went to stay with her and was her main carer for several weeks.

During that time, family and friends were concerned she was finding it increasingly difficult and her husband, Robin, thought she was ‘stretched to breaking point’.

Potts, who had a history of depression and was on medication, had interviewed private carers from 14 different companies before choosing one to look after her mother.

She was due to return home to Uxbridge at the end of January last year, when the carers would start work. But, on the morning of January 22, she attacked and killed Mrs Allen.

Potts woke her husband, who was staying with her in the house at that time, and said: “Something terrible has happened in the dining room, go downstairs and check. I think I’ve killed mum.”

Mr Potts found his mother-in-law covered in blood and lying on the floor, with a broken vase next to her. She had suffered multiple injuries to her head, body and hands.

Potts told her husband she had a dream about killing her mother and was unable to distinguish between the dream and reality.

After the tragedy, she was described by friends and family as a ‘caring and loving’ daughter, who was ‘in despair’ at what she had done.

Doctors said the combination of circumstances, including her depression and an ‘internal conflict’ over caring for her mother, had triggered the incident.

When she was sentenced, Judge Julian Goose QC ordered she could only be released from hospital with the permission of the Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove, as he could not rule out the possibility of a similar tragedy occurring in the future.

But at the Court of Appeal her lawyers challenged the restriction, arguing Judge Goose did not take enough account of the medical evidence available and focused too much on the violent nature of the attack.

Dismissing the appeal, Judge Jeffrey Pegden QC said: “In the circumstances, the judge was quite entitled to take the view that, with support, something like this should not happen again, but he could not conclude there was no risk in the future that such a combination of circumstances might occur.”