Mother warned of pond danger, court told

A MOTHER whose toddler who drowned in a garden pond, told a court that another child had fallen into the same pond six months before her daughter's death.

A MOTHER whose toddler who drowned in a garden pond, told a court that another child had fallen into the same pond six months before her daughter's death.

Karen Wilkinson, 27, said on that occasion she had been visiting her mother's house in Evergreen Lane, Great Bradley when a boy fell in the water as they were tidying up the garden.

She said she spoke to her parents after the incident and asked them to cover the pond.

"My mother said she wasn't going to put any more netting over it because the cats got their claws stuck in it," she said.

Karen Wilkinson and her husband Richard Wilkinson, 41, of The Street, Brandon, have denied the manslaughter of their 22-month-old daughter Emily on February 15, 2003.

The couple are also accused of four offences of child cruelty by neglect – charges admitted by Karen but denied by Richard.

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It has been alleged that the couple neglected Emily in the months leading up to her death and were watching television when Emily wandered off across the road and drowned in her grandmother's pond.

Giving evidence at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday, Karen Wilkinson said that when Emily was born she had suffered postnatal depression and for the first month had not wanted anything to do with Emily.

However, after that she hadn't wanted anyone else to go near her. "She was my little girl," she said. "I was very proud of her. I loved her," she said.

On the day of Emily's death she had been helping carry pieces of wood and potatoes into the house.

The first Karen Wilkinson knew something was wrong was when another child came rushing to the house shouting "Emily's in the pond."

"Me and Richard ran over to my mother's house and there she was," said Karen.

Richard Wilkinson pulled Emily out of the water and managed to revive her. She was taken to hospital by ambulance but died later the same day.

Asked by Mr Cox how long it was between her last seeing Emily and the alarm being raised she replied:

"It couldn't have been that long because she was normally around our legs somewhere – about five minutes maximum," she said.

She said that during her relationship with Richard Wilkinson there had been frequent rows during which he had been violent towards her.

She added that she had called the police on several occasions but had always withdrawn her complaint after he convinced her he would go for counselling.

Karen Wilkinson also admitted that while living at The Kennels she had a cocaine habit which cost her up to £1,000 a week and left her feeling as if she couldn't be bothered to do anything.

The trial continues.

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