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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 December, 2003, 18:15 GMT
The label with a life sentence
Donna Anthony with baby
Donna Anthony denied doing anything to harm her children

It is hard to imagine a crueller agony: To lose not one but two, maybe even three babies, and then to be accused of murdering them.

An investigation by Real Story looks at three new cases where mothers have been accused of harming or killing their babies.

Our report comes while the Appeal Court is examining the case of triple cot death mother Angela Cannings, convicted of murdering two of her babies last year but someone who has always maintained her innocence.

Donna Anthony is serving life in Durham prison for smothering baby Jordan and baby Michael. Like multiple cot death mothers Sally Clark and Trupti Patel - who have been cleared - Donna was accused by controversial expert witness Professor Sir Roy Meadow.

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He said that she probably smothered both babies. Her first baby to die, Jordan, was found at autopsy to have a button in her stomach. Professor Meadow told the jury it was unlikely that a baby of 11 months could have picked up a button and put it into her mouth of her own accord.

Yet Real Story filmed a baby of Jordan's age doing just that - repeatedly. Other experts say it is entirely possible the button choked Jordan and was then dislodged during resuscitation and entered her stomach.

Donna's second baby to die was baby Michael. Professor Meadow said that he too had been probably smothered. But Real Story has discovered that tests on the infant a few days before he died and at autopsy showed he had been infected with the killer bug, Staphylococcus Aureus.

This was the same bug that killed Sally Clark's second baby, Harry.

Theory challenged

The programme also uncovers the scandal of families who have had their children taken away and put up for adoption following "expert opinion" from now discredited witnesses.

We examine the validity of Professor Meadow's controversial theory, Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, in which mothers harm or kill their babies to draw attention to themselves.

Some experts dismiss the theory as dangerous because it presumes guilt and admits no defence.

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Advice and further information:

Real Story: BBC One, Monday 8 December 2003 at 1930 GMT and streamed live on the Real Story website.

SEE ALSO:
BBC probe suggests cot death injustice
08 Dec 03  |  Real Story
Cot deaths advice and helplines
08 Dec 03  |  Real Story
Baby murder witness 'irrelevant'
04 Dec 03  |  Wiltshire
Doubts cast over baby deaths case
02 Nov 03  |  Real Story
Jailed mother's appeal date
24 Aug 03  |  Wiltshire
Baby deaths mother to appeal
16 Apr 02  |  England
Few cot deaths 'are murder'
21 Jul 03  |  Health
'Tide turned' on cot death cases
12 Jun 03  |  Berkshire
The science behind cot deaths
11 Jun 03  |  Health


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