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Mother freed over two baby deaths; I'mgoing to be real `mummy' to our daughter -Angela Cannings.

Byline: Chris Brown By Mike Taylor

TRAGIC mother Angela Cannings walked to freedom yesterday -nnocent of murdering her two baby sons and determined to be ``mummy'' to her surviving daughter.

Her release by three Appeal judges from a life jail sentence came amid continuing doubt about the causes of ``cot death'', which she has always insisted killed her little boys.

A tearful Mrs Cannings held hands with her husband Terry on the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice in London as she recalled that her first child, a girl,had also died of ``sudden infant death syndrome''.

The four years since the death of her last baby had been a ``living hell'', she said.

``Finally yesterday,justice has been done and my innocence has been proven.''

Their surviving seven-year-old daughter had been ``our inspiration to carry on'', she said.

``I would like now to go home with Terry and, for me especially, to be mummy to our very precious daughter.''

The Court of Appeal overturned a jury's verdict in April last year that shop assistant Mrs Cannings smothered seven-week-oldJason in 1991 and 18-week-oldMatthew in 1999.

She was not charged over the death of her first child,Gemma,at the age of 13 weeks in1989.

Her surviving daughter, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was born in January,1996.

At the end of a five-day hearing, Appeal judge Lord Justice Judge said the court had reached the ``clear conclusion'' that the convictions were unsafe and should be quashed.

The judge, sitting with Mrs Justice Rafferty and Mr Justice Pitchers, said the case raised issues of public interest in relation to cot death and they would take time to reflect on how to express the reasons for their judgment.

The appeal centred on argument that the Winchester Crown Court jury was faced with the ``impossible task'' of weighing up conflicting expert evidence given by eminent paediatricians on each side who disagreed over the cause of death.

The case followed a decision earlier this year to overturn solicitor Sally Clarke's conviction of murdering her two young sons,and the acquittal of pharmacist Trupti Patel on charges of murdering her three babies.

Defence lawyers for Cannings claimed that one prosecution expert, paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow,had given ``misleading'' evidence that three cot deaths in the same family was ``very, very rare'',leading to the conclusion that the cause of death was smothering.

Research by Professor Meadow was also a key factor in the Clarke and Patel cases.

His claim in the case against Mrs Clarke, that the chance of two children of the same family dying of cot death was ``73 million to one'',has been challenged by recent research suggesting that the odds could be as short as 64 to one.

In the Cannings trial,he did not give statistical evidence,but defence counsel Michael Mansfield QC accused him during the appeal of getting his statistics in ``by the back door''.

The Crown insisted he was merely stating the obvious.


FREED: Angela Cannings is comforted by her husband outside court yesterday Picture: CHRIS YOUNG
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 11, 2003
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