Hearing into toddler’s death

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AN inquest into the death of a toddler who was killed by his mum will begin later this month.

Melanie Ruddell strangled two-year-old Christy in August 2010 and took his body to Peterlee police station.

The 39-year-old mum was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order in February last year, after Newcastle Crown Court heard how she suffered a “catastrophic mental breakdown” after the breakdown of her marriage to husband Alan.

At a pre-inquest review yesterday, Sunderland coroner Derek Winter confirmed Mrs Ruddell would be called to give evidence via video link.

Mr Winter said: “I want everyone to give a very full, thoughtful account of their involvement in the key days leading up to Christy’s death and I want to underpin that by fairness to everybody.

“I have no intention of producing her within the precincts of the court.”

Mr Winter emphasised that the Coroners’ Act would not allow his eventual verdict to be “inconsistent” with the court findings.

Mrs Ruddell, of Dene View, Castle Eden, was originally charged with the Christy’s murder but prosecutors accepted her guilty plea to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.