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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 June, 2003, 17:52 GMT 18:52 UK
Police defend baby death case
Trupti Patel
Mrs Patel's case has cast doubt on medical evidence
Officers from Thames Valley Police have defended the decision to prosecute Trupti Patel for the murder of three of her children.

Following Mrs Patel's acquittal at Reading Crown Court, the force issued a statement saying they had a duty to investigate the "highly sensitive" and "very emotive" case.

A jury found Mrs Patel not guilty on all three murder charges on Wednesday.

The decision to proceed with the case has been criticised by the families of other mothers who have faced trial over their babies' deaths.

Detective Superintendent Mark Warwick said: "Police have a duty to investigate cases of this nature.

"It is right that police, when they have information of the unexplained deaths of any persons or children, do all they can to investigate the circumstances surrounding these cases.

Sally Clark and husband Geoff
Sally Clark spent over three years in prison
"After almost a year of exhaustive inquiries and supported by the Crown Prosecution Service, we took a decision that there was evidence which a jury should have an opportunity to decide on, as has now occurred."

Mrs Patel is the second mother to be cleared on such charges this year.

In January, solicitor Sally Clark was cleared of the murders of her two sons by the Court of Appeal after serving over three years of a life sentence.

Her father, Frank Lockyer, said on Wednesday: "What has become virtually a systematic prosecution of mothers has got to be looked at.

"We cannot go on prosecuting mothers unless there is some real evidence of abuse.

'A victory' for parents

"The absence of any explanation of a death from the medical people cannot itself be a sign of guilt."

This view was backed up by Dr Bill Hunt, the former vice president of the Royal College of Pathologists.

He told BBC News 24 there was much uncertainty surrounding the cot death phenomenon.

"However, can the jury be expected to make this decision when the medical profession can't?" he asked.

Trupti Patel's trial has again reopened the debate on the reliability of medical evidence in such investigations.

Angela Cannings, who is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of two of her babies, is trying to bring her case to the appeal court.

Her husband, Terry Cannings, welcomed the result of Mrs Patel's case and told the BBC: "This is a victory for unascertained cot deaths.

"I feel with the Patel case there are so many similarities as with Angela's case and I hope common sense now prevails and they will revisit Angela's case."

The science behind cot deaths
11 Jun 03  |  Health
Patel case raises questions
11 Jun 03  |  England
Mother cleared of killing babies
11 Jun 03  |  Berkshire
Judge's 'pity' for dead babies mother
10 Jun 03  |  Berkshire
Baby killer to appeal
13 May 02  |  England

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