Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Part Fifteen: Think Dirty; Donna Anthony; Another Tragic Case Attributed To Dr. Roy Meadow;
"PATHOLOGIST PROFESSOR PETER BERRY, FOR THE PROSECUTION, SAID IN HIS OPINION THE TWO CHILDREN HAD BEEN SUFFOCATED AND WERE NOT VICTIMS OF SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME OR COT DEATH.
HEALTH WORKER CECELIA CLACK TOLD THE COURT THAT ANTHONY HAD SHOWN NO SIGNS OF WANTING TO BOND WITH OR CARE FOR HER CHILDREN.
SHE HAD VISITED THE DEFENDANT SHORTLY AFTER THE BIRTH OF HER FIRST CHILD AND ADVISED HER TO SEEK HELP FROM SOCIAL SERVICES TO DEVELOP PARENTING SKILLS.
UNDER CROSS-EXAMINATION FROM MR DUNKELS, ANTHONY DENIED KILLING HER SON, MICHAEL, TO "GET SYMPATHY" FROM HER HUSBAND, DEAN, FROM WHOM SHE HAD RECENTLY SEPARATED."
FRON BBC REPORT ON DONNA ANTHONY'S SENTENCING HEARING;
Donna Anthony is another British woman who was convicted of killing her babies on the evidence of Dr. Roy Meadow.
By way of brief background here is the Wikepedia account of her experience to the point at which she was freed following a referral to the Criminal Cases Review Commission - followed by the a BBC report on her sentencing hearing;
"Donna Anthony is a British woman from Somerset who was jailed in 1998 having been wrongly convicted of the murder of her two babies," the Wikepedia account begins.
"She was cleared and freed after spending more than six years in prison," it continues.
"She was one of several women at the centre of high-profile cases where evidence given by the controversial paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow led to convictions of mothers who reported more than one cot death.
Anthony's daughter died in February 1996, at the age of eleven months.
Her four-month-old son died in March 1997.
In November 1998, twenty-five-year-old Anthony was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, following a trial in which it was suggested that she had smothered her son in order to get sympathy from her estranged husband.
She made an unsuccessful appeal against her conviction in 2000.
In January 2003, the conviction of Sally Clark — jailed for life for the murder of her two sons — was quashed.
In June that year, Trupti Patel was acquitted of murdering her babies.
In December, Angela Cannings was cleared after spending more than a year in prison for the murder of her sons.
The prosecution in all four cases had relied on evidence supplied by Sir Roy Meadow, who said that the chances of two babies dying of natural causes within the same family were one in 73 million.
Meadow's evidence was later discredited, and he was subsequently struck off by the General Medical Council (though he was reinstated on appeal).
Following the overturning of Angela Cannings's conviction, twenty-eight cases, including that of Donna Anthony, were referred to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), and Anthony was freed in April 2005."
By way of juxtaposition, here is the BBC report of Anthony's sentencing hearing published on-line on Tuesday 17, November, 1998, under the heading, "Mother jailed for killing her babies."
The story was accompanied by the following "graphic:
"ANTHONY SHOWED NO SIGN OF WANTING TO CARE FOR HER BABIES, COURT TOLD;"
"A young mother has been given two life sentences for murdering her two babies," the BBC story began.
"A unanimous jury at Bristol Crown Court found 25-year-old Donna Anthony guilty of murdering her 11-month-old daughter and four-month-old son," it continued;
"Anthony's daughter Jordan died in Yeovil District Hospital in February 1996, although doctors initially believed she had been a victim of cot death.
When her second child, Michael, died in March 1997 and medical examination proved inconclusive, police began an investigation.
For the prosecution, Paul Dunkels QC said Anthony, from Southville, in Yeovil, smothered her children to take them "to the very edge of the line that divides life and death".
After both incidents she tried frantically to revive the babies, but they both died in hospital in Yeovil.
She had behaved in this way to attract attention or sympathy, or perhaps out of resentment towards her babies, or possibly due to an intricate combination of both.
She loved children 'to death'
Anthony denied doing anything to harm her children and claimed she loved them "to death".
Jordan was admitted to hospital four times over a six-month period when Anthony claimed she had stopped breathing, the court heard.
Pathologist Professor Peter Berry, for the prosecution, said in his opinion the two children had been suffocated and were not victims of sudden infant death syndrome or cot death.
Health worker Cecelia Clack told the court that Anthony had shown no signs of wanting to bond with or care for her children.
She had visited the defendant shortly after the birth of her first child and advised her to seek help from social services to develop parenting skills.
Under cross-examination from Mr Dunkels, Anthony denied killing her son, Michael, to "get sympathy" from her husband, Dean, from whom she had recently separated.
Anthony described in detail how she found both her children after they had stopped breathing and her frantic attempts to revive them.
But paramedics called to her house in Yeovil on the occasion of Michael's death found him cold with dilated eyes "like he had been dead some time".
'A very damaged young woman'
Passing sentence, Mr Justice Astill said: "You deprived your two young children of the right to live and it is difficult without knowing much more why you should have done this.
He said Anthony was a "very damaged young woman" and that he would be calling for an investigation into the events in her life that may have brought her to commit the crimes.
The judge continued: "It is a tragedy for those two children. It is a tragedy also for you. But I must pass upon you now the only sentence that I can pass by law. I have no choice."
After the hearing Anthony's estranged husband Dean said: "With the verdict that was given I hope my children can now finally be at peace and all the people involved in the case can start rebuilding and get on with their lives."
Detective Inspector Steve Foster, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: "It is a sad case and it is sad for the family and the two children.
"But at the end of the day we have done a professional job in putting the facts before the court. It was a difficult case and a sensitive case and that's all one can say.""