The killer’s husband talks about his family’s fear of being released after the murder of their five-year-old son
The husband of a killer who killed their five-year-old son by setting fire to a car he was in says his family is living in fear after she is released from mental health care.
Teresa Sheldon was detained under a hospital warrant in July 2015 after pleading guilty to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility for the death of son Tommy.
He was injured in the fire in his mother’s silver Ford Fiesta in Merdon Castle Lane, Hursley, Hampshire, in August 2014 and died in hospital a 14 days later.
Teresa Sheldon was detained under a hospital warrant in July 2015 after pleading guilty to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility
Tommy was injured in a fire in his mother’s silver Ford Fiesta in Merdon Castle Lane, Hursley, Hampshire in August 2014, and died in hospital a 14 days later.
His mother, from Dartford, Kent, also pleaded not guilty in Winchester Crown Court to the attempted murder of another person, who cannot be identified for legal reasons.
Her husband, Ross Sheldon, said he had been informed that Ms Sheldon had been released from care last month but his requests for safety restrictions were ignored by the health authorities responsible for her.
This comes despite the Supreme Court judge, Mr Justice Dingemans, who convicted Ms Sheldon and warned that she would pose an ongoing risk to herself and Mr Sheldon’s family.
Mr Sheldon, from Southampton, said: ‘I feel angry, agitated and most of all upset because I am concerned for my family’s well-being – for all the safety authorities involved they have done nothing at all, which I am disgusted by.’
He wants Mrs Sheldon not to be allowed to live in Hampshire, and in particular to visit Southampton, not to contact Mr Sheldon’s family, for her to wear a tracking tag and for him to get a recent photo of her.
He added: “Because of Teresa’s mental state, which we know very little about, we don’t know what’s going through her mind. Now that Teresa is released, you have to deal with someone who doesn’t have much to live for.
“As the judge at the Crown Court said, she poses a risk not only to herself but to others as well. You can imagine the fear someone can cause, I could go to my local Tesco and she could be there and anything could happen.’
Julian Hendy, of the charity Hundred Families, which supports murder victims in mental health, said: ‘This is a very frustrating case.
“In court, the judge went out of his way to determine that Ms. Sheldon remains a potential threat to her family, but since then we have no real information about concrete steps to support and protect them. They are vulnerable and must be protected.
“While some assurances have been made that the authorities are aware of the matter, many questions remain unanswered.
“We don’t know if there are any conditions to her release. We do not know if there are exclusion zones, and if so, how they will be monitored. We don’t know if she should wear a label. We are not aware of any protective measures.
Ross Sheldon, said he was made aware that Ms. Sheldon was released from care last month but his requests for safety restrictions were ignored by the health authorities responsible for her.
‘We have been fighting for years to get clarity. It almost seems as if there is a conspiracy of silence, for reasons never made clear.
All efforts by government agencies seem to be aimed at supporting and protecting the perpetrator of this horrific crime – with little or no regard for the real and lasting trauma of the victims.
“It really shouldn’t be necessary to say in a modern democracy, but after such a horrific murder of an innocent young child, it is unacceptable to treat Mr. Sheldon’s family with such a lack of compassion and concern. It just isn’t right.’
Both the Justice Department and the Department of Health declined to comment, saying only that the hospital trust was responsible for the arrangements following Ms Sheldon’s release.
Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust – which looked after Mrs Sheldon at the Bracton Center in Dartford – and Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust – which is responsible for liaising with victims in her case – both declined to comment.