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A mentally ill woman has admitted killing her 11-year-old son at their home in Kent following claims that she could not afford to continue paying his school fees.

Jennifer Taylor, 45, wept in court as she admitted the manslaughter of her son James, who was found drowned at their home in New Ash Green, Kent, in December.

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James had been a pupil at the independent fee-paying Steephill School in Fawkham, Kent, until last autumn when he moved to Wilmington Grammar School.

Steephill costs £2,245 a term and a neighbour of Taylor has said the boy had left because the family had stopped paying school fees and things were getting financially very tight.

“Jenny wanted to send James to a fee-paying secondary school after he left Steephill, like all the other kids there, but she just could not afford it.”

Taylor previously denied a charge of murder but at Maidstone Crown Court she pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Judge Andrew Patience QC said he was satisfied Taylor, who was flanked by three nurses in the dock, was suffering from a mental disorder. He imposed an interim hospital order under Section 38 of the Mental Health Act to ensure Taylor remained in custody.

Judge Patience, who is awaiting the completion of psychiatric reports, said he was not yet in a position to hear the facts of the case and adjourned the hearing until July 20.

Kent Police said two post-mortem examinations found the cause of death to be drowning. Traces of drugs were also found in the boy’s body. Caroline Birtwell, headmistress of Steephill School, has described James as a popular child who played for the school football team and starred in the school’s production of Oliver last summer.

Another neighbour, Jeff Topp, has said Taylor “doted” on her son, her only child, and the pair was “always together”.

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