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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 14:54 GMT
Accused mother tells of grief
Angela Cannings at Winchester Crown Court
Angela Cannings has spent 15 days on trial
A mother accused of smothering her two infant sons has told a jury of the despair she felt when they both died.

Angela Cannings, 38, of Salisbury, Wiltshire, said she had "battered" herself about the death of her first children, Gemma and Jason.

She told Winchester Crown Court she was shocked and disbelieving after it happened for a third time, when Matthew died.

Mrs Cannings denies the murders of seven-week-old Jason in 1991 and 18-week-old Matthew in 1999.

I did batter myself - I should be at home being a mum, which is what I've always wanted

Angela Cannings
She faces no charges over the death of Gemma, who died in 1989 at the age of 13 weeks.

On Wednesday, in her second day in the witness box, the former shop worker said the birth of Jason had been "a fascinating experience".

She said: "I just thought he was beautiful and lovely. He had dark hair and his skin was so pure it was lovely."

Junior defence counsel Joanne Briggs asked her: "Is your grief merely a pretence?"

'Sad inside'

Mrs Cannings replied: "I felt as if I've had the stuffing knocked out of me, to put it bluntly.

She added: "Terry and I talked openly about Gemma and why it happened to us and the reason.

"We were told it was Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and we were told by health professionals there was nothing we could have done.

I try to remember but it's just a blur because we have lost the babies.

Angela Cannings
"I felt sad inside because I felt I'd failed.

"I was told I had not failed, there was no answer and to try to get on with your life."

Mrs Cannings said she had returned to work after the deaths of Gemma and Jason but added: "I did batter myself - I should be at home being a mum, which is what I've always wanted."

'Bad dream'

Mrs Cannings went on: "Because I have suffered with the shock and trauma, when I try to recall events I think it's just shock, I do forget what happens.

"I try to remember but it's just a blur because we have lost the babies.

"You do try to remember things but it's almost like it's a bad dream and it has not happened."

The prosecution alleged that Mrs Cannings smothered the babies while they slept in their cots.

The jury has heard from three medical experts who said both Matthew and Jason suffered an upper airways obstruction, caused by deliberate smothering.

The defence has told the jury it would bring medical evidence to show that there could be genetic and environmental reasons why the babies died from SIDS - also known as cot death.

The trial continues.

Click here to go to BBC Wiltshire
See also:

12 Mar 02 | England
Mother denies murdering her sons
04 Mar 02 | England
Baby deaths trial adjourned
28 Feb 02 | England
Expert view in baby deaths trial
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