A woman from a village near Bury St Edmunds has been jailed for the attempted murder of two children.
The 35-year-old tried to kill herself and the two young boys when she stopped her car in a layby in Balsham, Cambridgeshire, on January 30.
She attached a pipe to the car exhaust and fed it back into the vehicle, where she sat with the primary school age children in the back seat.
But the three were saved by passers-by, who noticed the vacuum cleaner pipe attached to the car, and opened the unlocked door. One of them asked the woman: “What the hell are you doing?”
The court heard the boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have not suffered any physical or psychological harm – but experts believe it may take several years before the emotional impact is felt.
The woman admitted two counts of attempted murder last Thursday at Cambridge Crown Court and was sentenced by Mr Justice Nicol the following day.
Sara Walker, prosecuting, said: “They were all in the back of the car. One of the boys had got his top off, but they were awake and did not have to be roused.”
The witnesses said the woman was drowsy and was putting pills into her mouth, Miss Walker added.
She said: “The two boys were released from hospital and complained of headaches at that time, but no other ill-effects at that stage.”
Mark Shelley, mitigating, said his client tried to kill herself following the collapse of a relationship, but added she ‘can’t believe’ she tried to take the two children’s lives.
He said: “This incident was a result of a breakdown in her mental state. She was someone who could not cope with life and couldn’t think straight. She now has to come to terms with what she attempted to do.”
He said she was doing well in prison, where she has been on remand, and has been asked to join a board to encourage prisoners to take part in therapy.
Mr Justice Nicol, sentencing, said: “It’s clear your intent was to kill yourself and these children. Fortunately you were found and the doors were not locked and the boys and you were taken out.
“You seemed to have taken some pills at about the same time.
“Very fortunately the boys seem to have suffered no physical harm at all.”
He added that child psychologists have “so far not been able to detect any psychological harm”, but said that may take hold in later years when they are told what happened to them.