Mother keeps healthy son in wheelchair

April 8, 2008 - 9:34AM

A mother who convinced her son he couldn't walk and kept him in a wheelchair for five years because she feared he would leave her has been jailed.

The 31-year-old from Middlesbrough, UK - who cannot be named for legal reasons - was jailed for four years after a court heard she had tricked doctors into prescribing medication for the child, the Daily Mail reported.

The woman had kept the boy - now 11 years old - in the wheelchair since he was three, the paper said.

She had told doctors her son regularly had fits and needed medication, but her cruel ploy was discovered wen the boy suffered a seizure after she gave him an accidental overdose.

Paramedics called to treat the boy became suspicious after the woman attempted to hide medication she had given him, the Daily Mail said.

The woman later confessed to a psychiatrist that she fabricated his condition because she feared her son would one day become independent and leave home.

Judge Les Spittle, from Teeside Crown Court, said: "You robbed him (her son) of a normal childhood.

"It is fortunate that he has not suffered any long-term physical disability but I don't know what the potential long-term psychological impact there will be."

The court heard the began in 1999. The woman had started pushing her toddler, then three, around in a wheelchair, telling family and friends he regularly had fits and suffered painful swelling in his joints.

He was referred seven times to pediatricians, but they found no explanation for his apparent illness, the paper said.

Prosecutor Peter Makepeace told the court: "She succeeded in engendering in him the belief that he needed a wheelchair and that he had a condition for five and a half years.

"This significantly hampered his mobility and social development. He had seven referrals to pediatricians but no abnormality was found."