Mum who drowned daughter, 3, to ‘save her’ describes holding her under water

A mum who drowned her three-year-old daughter in a bath to ‘save her from her father’ has described the moment she held the child under water.

Claire Colebourn, 36, told officers she drowned daughter Bethan because she ‘did not want her to go anywhere near’ her husband Michael, who she had recently separated from, a court heard.

Kerry Maylin, prosecuting, said Colebourn, who denies murder, told police: ‘I woke up, I went up the stairs and Bethan was waking up. I ran a bath, she went into the bath, and I held her under the water surface.’

Describing the incident, Colebourn said: ‘She kept coming back to me, she put her hand on my cheeks, told me she loved me and said, “I do not want a bath, I do not want a bath”.

‘I waited for the bath to fill, I have never been so stressed in my life. I drowned my own daughter, I drowned my own daughter.

‘She didn’t fight against my hand. I think, very sadly, she had complete trust in me.’

The prosecutor added: ‘She said she held her hand to hold her under the water, she said she did it because “I didn’t want her to go anywhere near her father”.

‘She confirmed when Bethan came out of the water she was already dead. She said she took her to the downstairs bedroom, wrapped her under her arm and then injected herself with insulin.’

Maylin said again that Colebourn’s ‘only aim was to keep Bethan safe’.

She added that Colebourn claimed ‘a phone call saying she was harassing Michael tipped her over the edge and Bethan was upset about Thursday’s visit’

Colebourn is accused of murdering her daughter at their Hampshire home on 19 October 2017 after she split from Michael, the CEO of luxury marine interior company Trimline.

Bethan was found by her grandmother, Janet Fildew, when she arrived at the home, Winchester Crown Court heard.

Maylin said: ‘Bethan was three-years-old, she was a much loved daughter of Claire and Michael Colebourn, but she was found dead at her home.

‘Claire Colebourn, when Bethan was found, was also in the house and she was at the time suffering a diabetic episode.

‘Bethan died because she had been put in the bath at home and held under the water, the act was completed by her mother.’

Maylin said that in a nine-and-a-half-hour period that day, Colebourn had administered a dosage of insulin 10 times that she would normally use in a whole day.

The prosecutor said that just over a month before Bethan’s death, Colebourn and her husband, who had been together for 16 years and married for six years, separated and Mr Colebourn had moved out.

Maylin said their relationship had been difficult and the defendant went on to make ‘unfounded accusations’ on Facebook and an email sent to his work, that her husband was having an affair with the company’s finance director Kelly Futcher.

In the email to Trimline, she wrote: ‘He has been having an affair with his finance director at work, everything has been pre-planned, of course the finances.

‘They are aiming to take over the business and set up a new life together.’

Maylin said Colebourn also told friends she had visited Futcher’s home looking for her husband’s car.

The lawyer said Colebourn also became worried, without foundation, that Mr Colebourn was monitoring her computer and arranged for an IT firm to supply her with a new laptop and WiFi at her home.

She said that within minutes of receiving the new computer in October, she began searches for suicide-related websites and another website called How To Kill By Drowning, as well as watching a YouTube video titled Someone Drowns In A Tub Nearly Every Day.

On the day before Bethan’s death, Colebourn also wrote a letter to her mother saying: ‘I love you, Bethan loves you, thanks for everything. Please make sure Walter (horse) and Charlie (dog) are looked after. Love always Claire.’

She added: ‘Please make sure I am buried with Bethan in Fordingbridge.’

Maylin said that following her arrest, she told medical staff she had tried to kill herself the previous day.

The prosecutor said a doctor described how she was ‘only emotional when discussing the fact Michael Colebourn had left her and her daughter and her father had done the same to her mother’.

She later wrote in a letter intercepted at a hospital she was staying in: ‘In my eyes I saved her, everything over those days is a blur.’

She later told police: ‘I am responsible for Bethan’s death because she drowned and I am responsible for it. Bethan drowned because I was there, I held her under the water.’

She also made accusations that her husband had been ‘controlling and a bully’.

Maylin said the last time Mr Colebourn saw his daughter alive was when he took her to a soft play centre on 15 October and said: ‘He and Bethan had a nice afternoon and when he left she hugged and kissed her father goodbye.’

The trial continues.