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COT DEATHS SALLY DIES HEARTBROKEN; Jail and baby ordeal was 'too much'.

Byline: By ALLISON MARTIN

SALLY Clark, the solicitor wrongly jailed for murdering her two baby sons, was found dead at her home yesterday.

The 42-year-old's distraught family said she never fully recovered from the heartbreak of being locked up over the deaths of 12-week-old Christopher and Harry, eight weeks.

Last night they paid tribute to the loving mum who spent three years behind bars after a jury, deprived of key evidence, decided she smothered the boys - who both died of infections.

A statement said: "Sally was a loving and talented wife, mother, daughter and friend. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

"Sally had been wrongfully imprisoned for more than three years, falsely accused of the murder of her two baby sons.

"Sadly, she never fully recovered from the effects of this appalling miscarriage of justice. Sally was found dead at her home this morning, having passed away during the night. The matter is in the hands of the coroner."

Family solicitor Sue Stapeley said Sally was not suffering from any disease but "had not been in the best of health recently".

After her release, Sally - who also had a son Tom, seven, with husband Stephen - spoke of the pain of trying to rebuild her life following her ordeal.

She said: "I have been so damaged by what happened. I am a different person. I can't cope. Things have got worse, not better."

Stephen, who campaigned tirelessly for her release, added: "Sally isn't well and she never will be again. She constantly feels people are judging her."

Sally was cleared by the Court of Appeal in 2003 after it was discovered an expert witness at her 1999 trial, Dr Alan Williams, failed to reveal evidence showing Harry could have died naturally.

The Home Office doctor was later found guilty of serious misconduct. Controversial Professor Sir Roy Meadow also gave evidence during her trial at Chester crown court and claimed the chances of two natural unexplained cot deaths in the family was 73 million to one.

But the Royal Statistical Society and other medical experts later disputed his evidence saying the odds of a second cot death were around 200 to one. In 2005, Sir Roy was found guilty of serious professional misconduct and struck off the medical register.

He successfully appealed both decisions at the High Court. Sally was originally from Wilm-slow, Cheshire, but moved to Chelmsford, Essex.

Baby Christopher died from a lung infection in 1996 and Harry from a bacterial infection two years later.

Angela Cannings, who was also wrongly convicted of killing two of her babies then cleared in 2003, was last night both saddened and furious to hear of Sally's death.

The 42-year-old, who spent 18 months in prison, added: "I'm speechless, I'm so angry. This lady suffered so much, now she's died. I'm shocked and stunned.

"She had found it increasingly difficult to accept what had happened to her. She was very vulnerable."

THE YEARS OF HELL

FEB 1998 - Sally Clark is arrested over the deaths of her two sons, Christopher and Harry.

OCT 1999 - Trial begins at Chester crown court. Expert witness Professor Sir Roy Meadow tells the jury there is a 1 in 73 million chance of two children dying from cot deaths in an affluent family.

NOV 1999 - Sally is found guilty of the murders and given two life sentences.

Oct 2000 - Sally's first appeal fails.

Jan 2003 - Sally has conviction quashed by the Court of Appeal. The judges criticise Prof Meadow's statistical evidence.

Jun 2005 - Prof Meadow appears before the GMC charged with serious professional misconduct in relation to his evidence at Sally's trial.

Jan 2006 - Prof Meadow launches High Court challenge against a GMC decision to strike him off.

Feb 2006 - Prof Meadow wins his High Court appeal against being struck off. Mr Justice Collins ruled that any witness giving evidence in a court of law is protected from civil prosecution. He said he allowed the appeal against the GMC's finding of serious professional misconduct.

Mar 2007 - Sally is found dead.

mirrornews@mgn.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

PRIDE: With Stephen and Chris; TRAGIC: Sally died at home; EVIDENCE: Professor Roy Meadow
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 17, 2007
Words:694
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