Saturday, 2 May 2009

Mother's surprise confession exploded cot death theory

In the last of his series on criminal cases being considered for appeal, Duncan Campbell examines the evidence that could free a woman with a mental age of 10 from a life sentence and the circumstances in which a man was jailed for stabbing two racist attackers
Early this year, the Court of Appeal will have a chance to hear for the first time the case of Jacqueline Fletcher, who was jailed for life at Birmingham crown court in 1988 for drowning her six-week-old son, Glen.
Ms Fletcher, now 23, was born in Bangor, north Wales, and grew up in Atherstone, Warwickshire. When she left school she started going out with a young petty criminal, Glen Miles, and became pregnant by him.
Her first baby was born prematurely after what Warwickshire social services described as 'physical abuse and kicking by the father-to-be' and weighed just over two pounds. She was not capable of looking after the child properly - doctors now say she has an IQ of 70 and a mental age of 10. The child was taken into care and eventually adopted.
Her second child, Glen Richard Miles, was born in September 1984, again prematurely. The child's father was back in prison shortly after the birth. Social services worked closely with Jacqueline to make sure that the child was properly cared for. She was visited daily by at least one person connected with the social services.
On October 19, 1984, a postman, Gary Penny, arrived to deliver mail and found Ms Fletcher crying 'my baby, my baby.' The child was dead on the sofa and Mr Penny called the ambulance and police. An ambulance man attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. A pathologist's examination suggested that the child was a cot death victim. No inquest was held, as is the normal practice, so that parents are not caused further distress.

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