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Breakfast Thursday, 12 June, 2003, 05:29 GMT 06:29 UK
The lessons of the Trupti Patel case
Trupti Patel and her husband, after her acquittal at Reading Crown Court
Bereaved, then accused: was this ever a criminal case?
Breakfast's main story this morning was the continuing fall-out from the acquittal of Trupti Patel.

The 35-year-old pharmacist from Maidenhead was accused of murder, following the deaths of three of her children as babies.

After a six-week trial, she was cleared by a jury in less than an hour and a half.

This morning, there are calls for a change in the way infant deaths are investigated. Campaigners are calling for an end to the assumption that parents are to blame when more than one of their children die suddenly.

Breakfast spoke to some of those involved in the Trupti Patel case and to one man whose wife was convicted, rather than cleared, of murder in a similar case last year.

  • The barrister Helena Kennedy told us that deciding whether to launch legal proceedings in cases like this can be very difficult.

    Doctors are worried that they will be accused of failing to spot cases of child abuse: "It's not hundreds, but there are other cases where we will be asking if we interpreted medical evidence in too dogmatic a way."


  • Defence witness Professor Michael Patton One of the key witnesses for the defence was the genetics specialist Michael Patton. He testified that all three sudden deaths could have been caused by an undiagnosed genetic defect.

    He criticised the way the authorities approached cot deaths:

    "I have always been suspicious of the rule that one death is natural, two are suspicous and three must be murder. It's like counting magpies," he told us.

    In fact, he told us, a run of cot deaths in a family may well be caused by an undiscovered genetic defect. The chances of experiencing more than one cot death may be as high as 20 to one, rather than the 73 million to one quoted in a previous trial.


  • We also heard from Terry Cannings whose wife Angela was convicted of murdering her two sons last year. Terry is convinced that she is innocent - but has so far heard nothing about her legal appeal.


  • And we spoke to Chris Cloke of the NSPCC whose job it is to make sure that children are protected from abuse.


    Should Trupti Patel have stood trial?

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  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    Cot death case
    The BBC's Lucy Atherton reports on the lessons to be learned
    Cot deaths
    NSPCC Child protection worker Chris Cloke
    Witness for the defence
    Geneticist Michael Patton's evidence was crucial
    Barrister Helena Kennedy
    Live on BBC Breakfast
    Terry Cannings
    The husband of Angela Cannings, who was convicted of murder last year
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    See also:

    11 Jun 03 | England
    11 Jun 03 | Health

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