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Thursday, 28 February, 2002, 23:01 GMT
Expert view in baby deaths trial
Winchester Crown Court
Angela Cannings is on trial at Winchester Crown Court
An expert witness has told the trial of a mother accused of murdering her two babies there was medical evidence to suggest both boys may have been smothered.

Paediatric pathologist Professor Gem Berry told Winchester Crown Court on Thursday that he had reviewed the post-mortem examination of Jason Cannings, who died in 1991.

He also conducted the post-mortem of Matthew Cannings, who was 18 weeks old when he died, in 1999.

The boys' mother Angela Cannings, 38, of Salisbury, Wiltshire, denies both murders.


I thought the death of Jason was unusual

Professor Gem Berry
Professor Berry explained that both deaths had "features of imposed upper airways obstruction".

This he said was a deliberate act of smothering or suffocation by another person.

Professor Berry told the jury that he had used a new way to examine slides of Jason's lungs that was unavailable in 1991 and he had found that the lungs had bled a large amount.

This he said had shown that Jason had suffered the bleeding some days before he had died.

In the case of Matthew he noted there were also "pinpoint haemorrhages on a surface of the lung".

Results 'inconclusive'

He said this was common with babies who had died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or babies who had been smothered.

He said the examination of the lungs was inconclusive and that he decided that both deaths were unascertained because he could not rule out a natural or unnatural death.

But he told the jury that the finding of the bleeding in the lungs of Jason and iron deposits that had been left behind were worrying when looking at the whole picture of both deaths.

He said: "I thought the death of Jason was unusual, particularly because it was preceded by an Acute Life Threatening Event (ALTE).

"In my experience ALTEs rarely precede cot deaths."

"ALTEs are quite common and usually they do not die from subsequent events."

The trial continues.


Click here to go to BBC Wiltshire
See also:

21 Feb 02 | England
Jurors visit baby death homes
20 Feb 02 | England
Baby death case restarts
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