Sally Clark, p2

Again, the post-mortem examination was done by Alan Williams. He found injuries to Harry’s eyes, brain and ribs. He said that Harry had died because he had been shaken violently. He also looked again at the samples he had taken from Christopher’s body and found small amounts of blood in Christopher’s lungs. He said he had changed his mind and now believed that he had been smothered. On February 23, early in the morning, six police officers arrived at Sally and Stephen’s and arrested them on suspicion of murdering their children. Stephen was absolved, but, Sally was later charged with murder.

At Sally’s trial, the prosecution presented medical evidence: the injuries found on Harry’s body and the blood in Christopher’s lungs. The defence replied that Harry’s ‘injuries’ had occurred during the post-mortem examination, and that the blood in Christopher’s lungs was the result of his nosebleed. Both the prosecution and the defence called on medical experts. One said it was certain that Sally was responsible for the deaths; one said it was certain that she was not responsible. The others all said the cause of death was uncertain.

The prosecution also presented circumstantial evidence: Sally was a drinker; she had been depressed. They said she resented her children because they interfered with her career. The defence admitted that Sally had sometimes been unhappy, but they brought forward witnesses, including doctors and medical workers. who testified that Sally had been a cheerful, affectionate, hard-working mother. They emphasized that both babies had been happy and showed no signs of abuse.

The prosecution also called on a famous pediatrician, Sir Roy Meadow. He produced a statistic which apparently had a big impact on the jury. He said that scientific research proved that the chances of two babies dying naturally in a family like Sally’s were 75-million to one. This, he said, showed she was a murderer.

When the trial was over, in November 1999, the jury voted 10-2 in favour of conviction. Sally was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. In October, 2000, Sally appealed. Her lawyers argued that she had been convicted because the jury had been influenced by Sir Roy’s statistic. They showed Sir Roy was mistaken. They argued convincingly that it was far more likely than Sir Roy had claimed for two babies to die as Christopher and Harry had. The Appeal Court judge agreed that Sir Roy was mistaken and that he had misled the jury, but he insisted that that statistic had not been very important and that Sally would have been found guilty even if Sir Roy had not testified. The conviction was upheld and Sally remained in prison.

In 2001, Steve obtained a thousand pages of medical notes about his two sons. He searched through them and found a report on tests that had been done on Harry after he died. For some reason, Alan Williams had kept the results of the tests secret. The tests showed that, Harry had been suffering from a serious bacterial infection. Because of this new evidence, Sally was allowed to appeal again. This time she won. The court agreed that Christopher and Harry had died because they were ill, not because they had been abused. Sally was freed in February 2003, after more than three years in prison.

- information from: The Telegraph (UK), 01.05.11; The Observer, (UK) 01.08.15 (John Sweeney and Bill Law); Legal Business, (UK) 01.11 (Matthew Rushton)The Guardian (UK) 03.01.29; The Observer, 03.02.02 (John Sweeney); The Observer, 03.06.15 (John Sweeney); (Frank Lockyer);