CLAIRE Colebourn has been found guilty at Winchester Crown Court of murdering her three-year-old daughter Bethan, who she drowned in a bath in Fordingbridge, Hampshire, after her marriage broke down.

In summing up the case before sending jurors to retire on Friday morning, Judge Johannah Cutts QC, instructed them to try the case "dispassionately", and to consider an alternative charge of manslaughter if they felt Colebourn only meant to cause Bethan "some harm, but not really serious injury".

She said: "The Crown say that when she killed Bethan, she intended to do so.

"The defence say she was in a highly emotional state at the time and that her intent was to 'save' Bethan.

"It is important that when you assess the evidence, you do so dispassionately. Sympathy, disapproval or emotion of any kind does not assist in deciding if this case is sufficiently proven."

The court heard how the defendant began searching suicide methods, drowning, and cemeteries following the breakdown of her marriage.

Mr Colebourn left the family home in early September 2017 after 16 years together, with unproven allegations he was having an affair and trying to control his wife's finances.

The alarm was raised by the defendant's mother on October 19 2017, when she arrived at Colebourn's home and found the defendant in a diabetic coma having apparently tried several suicide methods, while Bethan was discovered dead in a downstairs bedroom elsewhere in the family home having been drowned around 14 hours earlier.

Prosecutor Kerry Maylin said: "Bethan had been woken from her bed (in the early hours of October 19), led to the bathroom, helped into or put into the bath.

"(Bethan was) forcibly held down with her arms beneath her body, not fighting against her mother as she held her under.

"However sad, however tragic, Claire Colebourn intended for Bethan to die.

"She may very well have intended that she die too. But she didn't.

"Bethan died at the hands of her mother, because that's what her mother intended."

Defending, Karim Khalil described his client as "a woman in emotional turmoil" whose mind "had become entirely consumed with looking back" on her relationship with Mr Colebourn and "distorting it".

He said: "She was at 'rock bottom' but told police (in subsequent interview) she wanted to 'protect' Bethan.

"She accepted what happened, that she had done it (drowned Bethan).

"Was she intending her daughter to be killed in the sense of being murdered by her? That is for you to decide.

"She said in evidence: 'I had a complete and utter breakdown'.

"This is not a case where we say this lady is innocent. But we say she should not be described as a murderer.

"Whatever your verdict, she will receive a very significant prison sentence.

"But that will not be the real sentence. It is that for however long she remains alive, she will wrestle with, try to understand and grieve over that she did it. She did it, we say, in a state of emotion."