Saturday, December 20, 2008



Babysitter Suzanne Holdsworth, who was previously found guilty of murdering her neighbour's two-year-old son by repeatedly banging the boy's head against a wooden banister, won an appeal against her conviction. She was granted bail after Court of Appeal Judges declared her conviction for the murder of a toddler "unsafe" in the light of new medical evidence.

Acting for Suzanne, Henry Blaxland QC of Garden Court's Crime team argued that new evidence showed she was the victim of a miscarriage of justice over the death of the two-year old boy. The Court of Appeal was told that they child had abnormalities which predisposed him to epilepsy.

Henry Blaxland QC said that the doctors who gave evidence at trial "got it wrong" and "collectively failed to diagnose" that the Kyle had a "highly unusual brain", which indicated three abnormalities, two of which predisposed him to epilepsy."

Henry Blaxland QC also stated that the prosecution's case at trial 'was based on expert medical opinion evidence to the effect that the child died from fatal brain swelling or oedema which was caused by a blow or blows of significant force.'

A jury was told in 2005 that the mum-of-two smashed the toddler’s head against a bannister with the force of “a car crash at 60mph," Yet Kyles's skull was unbroken and there was no evidence of hair, blood or tissue on the wood.

One of the experts who provided fresh evidence on behalf of the defence at Holdsworth's second trial, was forensic pathologist Dr. Christopher Millroy who participated in the Ontario Chief Coroner's Review of suspicious death of infant's cases involving Dr. Charles Smith and later testified at the recently concluded Goudge Inquiry;


The following timeline - published on December 20, 2008, will help readers appreciate the evolution of the Holdsworth case;


July 20: Suzanne Holdsworth babysits Kyle Fisher for the first of two consecutive evenings.

July 21: Kyle collapses at the babysitter's home in Millpool Close and is rushed to hospital.

July 22: The still unconscious youngster is transferred to Newcastle General Hospital with severe swelling of the brain.

July 23: Treatment is stopped after Kyle is pronounced brain dead with no hope of recovering.

July 24: Both Suzanne Holdsworth and Kyle's mother Clare Fisher are quizzed by police investigating the death.

July 27: Police announce the death is being treated as murder.

August 17: Suzanne Holdsworth arrested by police on suspicion of murder.

August 18: She is charged with murder and appears at Hartlepool Magistrates Court and bailed to live at an address in her native Leeds.

November 14: Kyle's family hold a memorial service for what would have been his third birthday.

December 3: Kyle's funeral is held.


February 22: Suzanne Holdsworth goes on trial at Teesside Crown Court.

March 8: She collapses in the dock after being found guilty by a unanimous verdict and jailed for life with a minimum 10-year tariff.


April 21: Appeal hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice, in London, after new medical evidence casts doubt on the conviction.

April 25: Appeal Court judges reserve their decision after a four-day hearing.

May 1: The murder conviction is quashed and a re-trial is ordered.

May 2: Suzanne Holdsworth is released from prison and returns to live in her native Leeds.

June 6: She appears at Leeds Crown Court charged with murder and her bail is extended.

December 1: Re-trial starts at Teesside Crown Court.

December 18: Suzanne Holdsworth walks free after being cleared by the jury.