Mom sentenced for fatally poisoning her 5-year-old son with antidepressants

A mother suffering from a terminal illness has been sentenced to 18 years in prison after murdering her five-year-old son in what appeared to be a double suicide attempt. Claire Scanlon, 38, showed no remorse as she received the minimum-term life sentence for killing Dylan Scanlon, whose body was discovered with extensive bruising and a lethal amount of antidepressants in his system. The incident took place in Oldham, Greater Manchester, on December 31, 2021.

Prosecutors revealed that Scanlon had informed her uncle that her son was not breathing or moving at 6:15 pm on the fateful day. Despite the prompt arrival of paramedics, Dylan was pronounced dead just three minutes later. Pathologists later discovered that the young boy had sustained 64 separate injuries and had a significant amount of antidepressant drugs in his system, which could have been fatal. Scanlon initially claimed that Dylan had fallen from a ladder in the attic the day before, but a note found by the police indicated her intention to die alongside her son.

During the trial at Manchester Minshull Court, it was revealed that Scanlon had inherited Huntington’s disease, an incurable condition that affects the brain’s functioning. While the judge acknowledged that this may have influenced her behavior, she emphasized that it was not an excuse for the murder. Mrs. Justice Yip stated that Scanlon had administered a large dose of antidepressants to Dylan with the intention of causing his death. She also noted the presence of multiple bruises on the boy’s face and head, indicating that he had been subjected to multiple blows.

Dylan’s father, Gary Keenan, expressed his grief in a statement to the court, lamenting the loss of his son and the missed opportunities they would never share. He described how Dylan loved Christmas and how he had prepared numerous presents for him, only to be denied the chance to give them. Keenan emphasized the void left in their lives and the ongoing fight for justice on Dylan’s behalf.

Scanlon’s brother, Shawn Scanlon, delivered an emotional victim impact statement, urging his mother to refrain from causing further harm to the family. The jury reached a guilty verdict two days after deliberations began, following evidence presented by the prosecution that Scanlon had become increasingly angry and depressed after her relationship with Dylan’s father ended.

The court heard that Scanlon had sent numerous voicemails and messages to her ex-partner in the months leading up to the murder, expressing her anger and making threats. She had also obtained a repeat prescription for an antidepressant, which was found in Dylan’s system. While the exact method of ingestion could not be determined, the toxicologist confirmed that the level of the drug in Dylan’s blood was consistent with fatal overdoses.