Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Two Police Forces to Be Probed over Death of Toddler

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Two Police Forces to Be Probed over Death of Toddler

Article excerpt

Byline: Neil McKay

APOLICE watchdog is to investigate two North East forces over the way they handled the case of a mother suspected of strangling her toddler son.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is to examine the actions of Durham and Northumbria officers in the days prior to the death of Christy Ruddell.

His mother, Melanie, 39, has been arrested on suspicion of his murder after walking into a County Durham police station carrying his lifeless body over her shoulder. Mrs Ruddell, a former welder, lived in the village of Castle Eden, but was staying with her brother Neil Close, a corporal in the Royal Engineers.

Both forces had contact with Mrs Ruddell in the days before she was arrested on August 9. The IPCC said that on the evening of Saturday August 7, Durham Police were contacted by Northumbria Police requesting an officer attend an address in Durham regarding a serious allegation that had been made.

Later that night, Durham officers attended the address and spoke to Mrs Ruddell about the allegation. For legal reasons, the nature of the allegation cannot be disclosed, but her report was quickly deemed a fantasy.

On the Sunday officers from both forces had further contact with Mrs Ruddell, both over the phone and in person. The same day Mrs Ruddell's family became so concerned for her welfare that she was taken by ambulance to the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

She was assessed and later discharged herself.

Mrs Ruddell, most recently a stationery saleswoman, then returned to her brother's home in West Rainton, where police contact continued throughout the Sunday and into the early hours of the Monday, the IPCC said.

It is believed Christy was strangled early on Monday. He was also stabbed once, but police did not believe this caused his death.

His mother was also found with self-inflicted injuries.

Mrs Ruddell, whose marriage to her husband Alan was ending in divorce, is being held in a secure hospital receiving medical treatment and will not be questioned until she is well enough. …

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