A childminder today admitted the manslaughter of a nine-month-old boy by ‘forcefully’ shaking him ‘in frustration’ when he began crying after falling out of his high chair.

Karen Foster, 62, had been due to stand trial for the murder of Harlow Collinge, who died in hospital after suffering head injuries at her bungalow in Hapton, Lancashire in March 2022.

Harlow’s mother Gemma sobbed in the public gallery at Preston Crown Court as prosecutors today instead accepted Foster’s guilty plea to manslaughter.

She maintains that Harlow ‘toppled over out of his chair’ and ‘banged his head’, the judge, Mr Justice Cotter, told the brief hearing.

Foster claims she then ‘shook him in frustration’ because he was crying, he said.

A childminder today admitted the manslaughter of nine-month-old boy Harlow Collinge (pictured) by 'forcefully' shaking him 'in frustration' when he began crying after falling out of his high chair

Nine-month-old Harlow Collinge

A childminder today admitted the manslaughter of nine-month-old boy Harlow Collinge (pictured) by ‘forcefully’ shaking him ‘in frustration’ when he began crying after falling out of his high chair

Harlow died in hospital after suffering head injuries at her bungalow in Hapton, Lancashire in March 2022

Harlow died in hospital after suffering head injuries at her bungalow in Hapton, Lancashire in March 2022

Asked by the judge whether the defence accepted that it was the ‘forceful shaking of Harlow that caused his death’, her barrister, Michelle Colborne KC, replied: ‘My Lord, yes.’

She confirmed that the bang to his head from falling out of the high chair had not led to his death.

No further details of the circumstances were spelt out in court.

Prosecutor Anne Whyte KC said the decision to accept the manslaughter plea came following discussions including with Harlow’s family, who were in court.

Remanding Foster back into custody, the judge warned her she faced a ‘substantial period of custody’ when she returns to court next week.

The prosecution will ask that a second count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm against a second child who she was childminding in 2019 be ordered to lie on file.

The alleged earlier victim cannot be named for legal reasons.

Police were called at around 1.20pm on March 1, 2022, to Foster’s white-painted bungalow in Hapton following reports a baby boy had suffered a medical episode.

Harlow, aged nine-and-a-half months, was taken to hospital for treatment, but he died on March 5.

Baby Harlow pictured riding the swings at a children's play park

Baby Harlow pictured riding the swings at a children’s play park

Foster, a registered childminder of nine years’ experience, was arrested and questioned before being released on bail.

In July last year she was charged with his murder, and has remained in custody since then.

Dressed in a black cardigan over a white blouse, grey-haired Foster – who wears glasses and uses a walking stick – sat slumped and grim-faced in the dock today as she was told a lengthy jail sentence was inevitable.

After being asked to enter her plea to the murder count today, Foster replied: ‘Not guilty.’

But after prompting from her legal team, she added: ‘Guilty to manslaughter.’

Foster, previously of Burnley, Lancashire, will be sentenced next week.

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