Dylan Freeman was found suffocated, with pieces of sponge in his mouth, on 16 August at their house in Acton, west London after his mother turned herself in to the police. He was found lying on his back covered by a duvet with toys placed beside him.
Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb said it was a “rare and desperately sad” case.
Dylan required round-the-clock care. He had autism, a rare genetic disorder called Cohen Syndrome and significant difficulties with language and communication. He had been attending a special school five days a week, but during the first lockdown last year he was unable to attend school.
Caring for the 10-year-old boy in lockdown took a severe toll on Freeman’s mental health, the senior judge said, and by the summer of 2020, the 40-year-old defendant, who had a history of depression, had reached her “wits’ end” and was “exhausted”.
In the week leading to the killing, Freeman had spoken about being a Messiah, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.
Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb said: “I have no doubt at all that you were a remarkably loving and dedicated mother to a vulnerable child until multiple pressures overwhelmed you and your mind was swamped by a destructive illness with florid psychotic elements.”
She said that Dylan should be acknowledged “as an indirect victim of interruption to normal life caused by the Covid-19 pandemic”.
Psychiatrist Dr Martin Lock found that Freeman “developed psychotic symptoms when under very heavy stress because of the Covid-19 lockdown”. In his report, he said her mental illness had been made “considerably worse by struggling to look after Dylan” and “several times worse because of the Covid-19 lockdown and the closure of Dylan’s school”.
The defendant applied to Ealing Council to increase support for Dylan’s care but it appeared to be “slow” in responding. The court heard a review was ongoing and was expected to conclude shortly.
Prosecutor Gareth Patterson QC said: “The role of the council does seem to have been a further source of stress for the defendant at what was a very difficult time.”
At the time of his death, his father, celebrity photographer Dean Freeman, was in Spain. Mr Freeman, who is divorced from the defendant, criticised successive governments for “inadequate support and funding” of services with some people “left without a voice”.
Mr Freeman said: “The impact of losing a child is devastating and horrific. My son was sweet, artistic, gentle and very loving. Dylan was the delight of my life and always will be.
“I miss my son and I would have had many more holidays with him, I would have taken him to many more art galleries, gone swimming in the sea. He was the most gentle, happy and sweet boy. He loved travel and all he saw. I miss him more than words can say.”