A mother who tried to strangle and poison her young sons has been made the subject of an indefinite Hospital Order.

The woman from the Bradford district was originally charged with attempted murder but pleaded guilty to four child cruelty offences after psychiatrists decided that she was too mentally unwell to form the intent to kill.

The mother, who cannot be named to protect the identities of the children, was arrested when they failed to attend school.

One of them told a relative: “Mummy tried to throttle us.”

The woman said she had tried to kill them and that she needed help, prosecutor Stephen Wood QC told Bradford Crown Court today.

She also revealed that she had tried to poison them all with carbon monoxide.

She told a psychiatrist she wanted the children to die peacefully and painlessly.

She said she stopped the poisoning attempt when one of the boys became upset.

Both children had injuries consistent with strangulation and one of them had a carboxyhaemoglobin level raised to a level one would normally associate with an adult smoker.

This was consistent with recent exposure to carbon monoxide, Mr Wood said.

One boy described to a police officer how his mother put her hands over his mouth and began throttling him. He said she did the same to his brother.

The child said he thought he was going to die.

“The whole incident must have been utterly terrifying for these two young children,” Mr Wood said.

The court heard that the woman had been transferred to a psychiatric hospital from prison under the Mental Health Act.

She was present in court for the sentencing hearing and became very distressed, shouting out: “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”

Her barrister, Abigail Langford, said she was suffering from delusional beliefs at the time. She was an intelligent woman and had realised that she needed help.

“This was a catastrophic breakdown by her,” Miss Langford said.

There was a clear link between her offending and her mental illness.

The woman’s treating clinician told the court she was suffering from a severe depressive illness with delusions when she harmed the children.

She would require lifelong treatment and monitoring, he said.

Judge Jonathan Rose said it was clear from her first court appearance that the woman was suffering from a severe mental illness.

From the outset, she had admitted what she had done and recognised that she could have killed the children who she loved dearly.

She had been diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder, with depression and anxiety, and had developed a sense of hopelessness about her life and that of her sons.

“You were unable to stop the tide of mental deterioration,” Judge Rose said.

He made a Hospital Order with a restriction to enable her to receive appropriate treatment and to protect the public.