A mother has been convicted of murdering her two young daughters after they “got in the way” of her sex life.
Louise Porton denied killing three-year-old Lexi Draper and 17-month-old Scarlett Vaughan, but was found guilty at Birmingham Crown Court after a five-week trial.
Porton blinked as the verdicts were read out on Thursday and then sat in the court dock, one hand over her eyes, head bowed.
Jurors heard Porton had accepted 41 friend requests on a dating app just a day after the first child Lexi died, and was described as being “calm and emotionless” following Scarlett’s death.
When Lexi was ill in hospital, just over a week before she died, Porton took topless photos in the toilets and was arranging to perform sex acts for money with a man she had met through a website.
The 23-year-old suffocated Lexi in the early hours of January 15 last year and was then heard “laughing” at a funeral parlour two days before killing Scarlett just over two weeks later, on February 1.
Prosecutors said it had appeared to the funeral arranger present that Porton was “using FaceTime and that she was speaking to a man”.
Jurors were told that after police seized her phone, they uncovered searches including how long it took a dead body “to go cold up to the shoulder” and “five weird things that happen when you die”.
Opening the prosecution’s case at the start of the trial, Oliver Saxby QC said: “The overwhelming inference is that Lexi and Scarlett died because someone deliberately interfered with their breathing.
“That someone can only have been this defendant.”
Both children had symptoms consistent with deliberate airway obstruction and Scarlett had signs of recent bleeding in her neck tissue, suggestive of neck compression, jurors heard.
Mr Saxby said specialist doctors could find no “natural reason” for why either child had died.
Almost two weeks before her death, Lexi had been taken to hospital on January 2 and then January 4, but was sent home with antibiotics for an apparent chest infection.
Prosecutors said that while in hospital with her sick daughter, Porton went to the toilets and took topless photos.
It was in the days after Lexi was discharged on January 4, the prosecution alleged the mother looked online for “can you actually die if you have a blocked nose and cover your mouth with tape”.
Porton also searched “how long after drowning can someone be resuscitated?” and accessed an article called “Toddler brought back to life after nearly drowning”, jurors heard.
The Crown alleged Lexi had been dead for some time before a 999 call was made from her home on January 15, with Mr Saxby pointing to evidence of Porton’s web searches.
After Scarlett’s fatal collapse, Porton told police it was “entirely false” to suggest the toddler was already dead when she was recorded on CCTV carrying the little girl from a hotel, in Rugby, where she had been staying.
But the paramedic responding to the subsequent non-emergency 111 call Porton made, described the girl being “freezing and completely lifeless” when he arrived.
CCTV showed Porton filling up with petrol during the period when jurors heard Scarlett had already died.
The first day of trial was told that from August 2016 until early November 2017, Porton lived at an address in Willenhall, near Walsall, where her landlady spent “more and more time” caring for Lexi and Scarlett while their mother was “doing social things” instead of looking after them.
The landlady made a statement to police saying Porton was doing “whatever she could not to have them with her”.
Conceding that being a young mother of two young children would have placed a burden on the defendant, Mr Saxby added: “No doubt, she would have needed time to herself.
“But, in the context of what was later to happen – in the context of two unexplained deaths consistent with deliberate airway obstruction – it is hard not to draw the conclusion that, for the defendant, at times, her two children got in the way of her doing what she wanted, when she wanted and with whom she wanted.”
Porton had denied wrong-doing throughout, telling police in a prepared statement: “My children were never an inconvenience to me and I accommodated my lifestyle and personal life around them.
“I still don’t know how my daughters died, or what caused it.”
Porton, formerly of Skiddaw, Rugby, Warwickshire, will be sentenced by Mrs Justice Yip on Friday.