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Last Updated: Friday, 23 January, 2004, 15:39 GMT
Child murder review 'scaled back'
Angela Cannings
Angela Cannings had her murder convictions quashed last month
The number of cases of child murder to be reviewed because of an Appeal Court ruling on cot death will be far lower than originally thought.

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith had said 258 cases where cot death could have been a cause would be reviewed.

But after a meeting with Criminal Cases Review Commission head Professor Graham Zellick, Lord Goldsmith said the final number would be "much smaller".

The pair were discussing how they could judge which cases were suspect.

Hallmarks

The Attorney General said he was unwilling to speculate on what the final number may be adding: "We don't how many cases will bear the hallmarks that the Court of Appeal identified.

"Let's see when we've seen the facts."

The Appeal Court ruled on Monday that parents should not be prosecuted over the sudden, unexplained death of a child where cot death was a possibility.

Lord Justice Judge had been explaining the court's reasons for overturning Angela Cannings's conviction for murdering her two sons.

Everything possible is being done to reach justice in these cases
Lord Goldsmith

The case had rested on the evidence of discredited expert witness Sir Roy Meadow.

Lord Judge said medical science was "still at the frontiers of knowledge" about unexplained infant deaths.

If the outcome of a trial relied "almost exclusively on a serious disagreement between distinguished and reputable experts, it will often be unwise, and therefore unsafe, to proceed," he said.

The judges said Mrs Cannings's case had broad implications for other cases involving parents accused of harming their children.

Sally Clark with her husband Geoff

The Cannings case followed a decision earlier last year to overturn solicitor Sally Clarke's conviction of murdering her two young sons, and the acquittal of pharmacist Trupti Patel on charges of murdering her three babies.

The Crown Prosecution Service was also asked by Lord Goldsmith to review 15 ongoing cases involving an unexplained infant death.

The Criminal Case Review Commission is now waiting to receive cases to review.

"Everything possible is being done to reach justice in these cases. Nobody could do more than is being done at the moment," Lord Goldsmith added.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"Similar criminal cases will now be fast-tracked to appeal"



SEE ALSO:
Baby death review welcomed
19 Jan 04  |  UK
Cot death evidence review call
11 Dec 03  |  Wiltshire
The science behind cot deaths
10 Dec 03  |  Health
Mother cleared of killing sons
10 Dec 03  |  Wiltshire
Babies 'had higher cot death risk'
09 Dec 03  |  Wiltshire


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