Sutha Sivanantham and daughter Sayagi, who was found with multiple stab wounds at her home in Mitcham, south London
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A mum stabbed her five-year old daughter to death after worrying the little girl couldn't live without her if she died of coronavirus, a court heard.
Sutha Sivanantham, 36, turned the blade on herself after knifing daughter Sayagi Sivanantham 15 times in the bedroom of their south London flat, the Old Bailey was told.
She had been complaining of mystery ailments for almost a year and her husband believes fear of the virus and lockdown restrictions pushed her over the edge.
Sainsbury's worker Suganthan Sivanantham was at the supermarket when he received a phone call to say his wife had killed their daughter at their home in Mitcham.
Sivanantham sobbed loudly in the dock as his impact statement was read to the court.
"I believe Covid restrictions may have had a negative effect on her wellbeing," Mr Sivanantham said.
Sayagi was found lying on the bed with stab wounds to her neck, chest and abdomen, the court heard
(Image: central news)
"She took the restrictions seriously and was petrified about catching the virus."
The court heard Sivanantham spoke no English and had been living in the UK since 2006 following an arranged marriage with her husband.
He described her as "a very good mother".
By the autumn of 2019 she was complaining of mysterious pains and attended A&E several times.
During the summer of the following year she then complained of dizziness and weight loss, and weighed just seven and a half stone.
"The defendant had developed a morbid concern she was suffering from undiagnosed serious illness," said prosecutor Bill Emlyn-Jones.
"She appears to have become convinced that she was going to die."
Hospital tests revealed Sivanantham had been infected with Covid 19 at some point.
"The night before the incident, she had specifically asked her husband if he would take care of the children in the event of her death," Mr Emlyn-Jones said.
"On the morning of 30th June 2020, she asked her husband not to go to work, but he explained that he had to go, leaving the defendant at home."
Sivanantham phoned friends during the day complaining about her heath, but they thought she was normal.
Sutha Sivanantham, 36, turned the blade on herself after knifing daughter Sayagi Sivanantham 15 times in the bedroom of their south London flat, the Old Bailey heard
(Image: PA Archive/PA Images)
At around 4pm neighbours were called to the flat in Monarch Parade, Mitcham.
"They found the defendant on the floor, with a serious stab wound to her abdomen," Mr Emlyn-Jones said.
"Sayagi, who was lying on the bed, had been stabbed several times in the neck, chest and abdomen.
"A knife was seen embedded in Sayagi's shoulder, which fell out when she was moved to be treated on the instructions of the 999 operator."
Mother and daughter were both taken to hospital by air ambulance, but Sayagi was later pronounced dead.
She had been stabbed 15 times and two of the injuries had penetrated her heart.
In hospital, Sivanantham told a doctor how terrified she was that she was about to die, the court heard.
"The defendant told the doctor she had been worried what would happen to her child if anything happened to her and thought her daughter would not be able to live without her," Mr Emlyn-Jones said.
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"She also said that on the day of the murder she had felt as if she was asleep and dreaming; she had known she was hurting herself 'but I didn't realise I was hurting her'.
"The defendant was charged on 11th September 2020 and two letters were seized.
"In one of these she again asks for forgiveness and says she still doesn't 'know what happened to me on that day'."
Sivanantham was treated in hospital for several months for her abdominal injury and now uses a colostomy bag.
One psychiatrist who has treated Sivanantham found that the social isolation and stress caused by the Covid 19 lockdown contributed to her serious mental illness.
Another, Dr Nigel Blackwood told the court: "At the time of the alleged offences, Ms Sivanantham's mental state appears to have been dominated by hypochondriacal delusional beliefs and thus abnormal.
"Her behaviour and decision-making were strongly influenced by the content of her psychotic belief.
"However, in my view she likely knew the fundamental nature and quality of her actions at the time of the assault (that is, she was aware that she was engaged in assaultive acts likely to inflict a serious injury on another), and knew that what she was doing was wrong."
Sivanantham denied murdering her daughter but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
The prosecution accepted the plea.
In his impact statement her husband said: "I get very emotional having to relive what has happened to my daughter and my wife."
He said before the killing the family had lived a "happy fulfilling and blissful life".
Since then he has had to give up work and "each day is a struggle".
Mr Sivanantham said he had not spoken to his wife, but accepts she was not responsible for her actions.
"I know that if she was well she would not have been able to kill our daughter," he said.
Passing sentence Judge Wendy Joseph said the case was a "terrible tragedy".
"What is clear is that the ongoing mental illness was not fully appreciated by anyone around her, including her doctors," the judge said.
"She developed a morbid concern that she was seriously ill and became convinced she was going to die.
"She was due to have further hospital tests the next day and was clearly depressed, possibly about what would be found.
"She went to the bedroom for a lie down. She tool Sayagi with her. She also took two knives."
The judge said the lockdown may have contributed to the mother's illness.
"Information from both her GP and St George's Hospital suggest she had over a period of months following the imposition of lockdown, complained of a range of symptoms beyond those of which she had previously.
"The symptoms included cough, cold, loss of sense of smell, chest pains, dizziness and extreme fatigue.
"As her physical health deteriorated, so did her mental health."
The judge added: "A moving statement from Mr Sivanantham makes it clear the devastation wrought on this family by the events of his day.
"He has not and perhaps never will comes to terms with the death of his daughter or the actions of his wife."
Sivanantham was sent to be treated in hospital under sections 37 and 41 of the Mental Health Act.
It will be for the doctors to say when, if ever, she should be released.