BBC OnePanorama


Last Updated: Friday, 7 March 2008, 15:04 GMT
Shaken Babies
Maeve Sheppard
Panorama: Shaken Babies, Monday 10 March BBC One at 8.30pm
Last year childminder Keran Henderson was convicted of shaking an 11-month-old baby to death.

Her friends and family say she couldn't have done it.

But the medical experts say otherwise.

On Monday Panorama's John Sweeney, who found fresh evidence that helped free cot death mothers Sally Clark and Angela Cannings, investigates the row behind Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Compelling evidence

Henderson had pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Maeve Sheppard.

The mother-of-two and a former Beaver Scout leader, had been looking after Maeve when the unconscious baby was taken to hospital in 2005.

Experts at Reading Crown Court said the injuries were caused by the baby being shaken back and forth.

Keran Henderson
Keran Henderson had denied violently shaking the child
Henderson's defence was mostly made up of her family and friends - they couldn't believe she did it.

After the verdict was announced, they started to campaign for her release - putting up posters and tying yellow ribbons around trees in her home town in Iver, Buckinghamshire.

Baby Maeve Sheppard's parents live close by and, having sat through weeks of compelling medical evidence against Henderson at the trial, they are convinced of her guilt.

In an exclusive interview, the father of the baby, Mark Sheppard talks about the death of his daughter and the effect the campaign has on their family.

Panorama looks at the science behind Shaken Baby Syndrome and finds the majority of medical experts are firmly persuaded by the evidence for it.

New research

John Sweeney also meets researchers in Norway who are carrying out fresh research into the mechanism that apparently causes the injuries.

He also talks to sceptics of Shaken Baby Syndrome. He travels to Detroit in the United States to meet biomechanics who are carrying out new experiments with crash test dummies.

They ask whether it is possible to physically shake a child to death and they also suggest innocent explanations for these Shaken Baby symptoms.

In North Carolina, John Sweeney meets a forensic pathologist who is carrying out new research into one of the injuries associated with Shaken Baby Syndrome - bleeding behind the eyes, or retinal haemorrhages.

His research raises doubts about whether there may be other innocent explanations for retinal haemorrhages than has previously been accepted.

The programme raises the question whether the conviction of Keran Henderson - and many others like her - is beyond reasonable doubt when there are no other factors, other than the medical evidence pointing to guilt.

Panorama: Shaken Babies, Monday 10 March BBC One at 8.30pm

Childminder jailed for baby death
13 Nov 07 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Childminder denies killing baby
22 Aug 06 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Carer charged with killing baby
15 May 06 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts

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