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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 16:29 GMT
Bridge leap mother freed by court
Angela Schumann
Angela Schumann survived the 100ft drop into the River Humber
A woman who was jailed for 18 months after plunging 100ft (30m) from the Humber Bridge with her young daughter has been freed by appeal judges.

Angela Schumann, 28, from Leeds, and her daughter Lorraine Tumalan-Schumann, who was almost two years old at the time, survived the fall in June 2005.

Schumann, jailed last November at Hull Crown Court, had her prison term replaced by a community order.

On Wednesday Court of Appeal judges freed her "as an act of mercy".

There is one word that you will not read in the sentencing guidelines and that is 'mercy'
Lord Phillips

Schumann had pleaded guilty to attempted murder at her crown court appearance.

But Court of Appeal judges in London, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Philips along with Mr Justice David Clarke and Mr Justice Irwin allowed her appeal against the sentence.

The decision to release Schumann came the day after the Lord Chief Justice said courts should avoid jailing prisoners who posed no risk to the public.

Lord Phillips said: "We have asked ourselves, is it really necessary or was it really necessary to send this unhappy woman to prison to punish her for the momentary aberration which led her to try and take her own and her child's life?

"We say momentary, because the moment she hit the water she came to her senses and shouted for help."

'Apply mercy'

The judge said Schumann then tried to keep her daughter afloat "for some 45 minutes", saving the life "she had tried to end".

The Lord Chief Justice said: "There is one word that you will not read in the sentencing guidelines and that is 'mercy'.

This desperate woman should never have been put behind bars
SmartJustice, campaign group

"There are occasions where the court can put the guidelines and authorities on one side and apply mercy instead."

Schumann was not in court to hear her sentence quashed. Along with the community term, she was also given a three-year supervision order.

Marriage breakdown

Sentencing her to prison last November, the Recorder of Hull, Judge Michael Mettyear, said it had been one of the most difficult cases he had ever dealt with.

"It is difficult because, on the one hand, you are an intelligent woman, you have no previous convictions and you pleaded guilty at the very first opportunity.

"On the other hand, your conduct was very likely to kill your child. It is a remarkable piece of luck that you and she survived relatively unscathed."

The court had heard Schumman's marriage to her husband, Julio Tumalan Nava, had broken down in the summer of 2004 and he had later taken custody of the child after a court battle.

The original trial heard evidence to show the act was premeditated, including writing on Schumann's stomach seen when she was dragged from the water which read "Cause of death: Julio".

Prisons 'overflowing'

Sinead Hanks, from the campaign group SmartJustice, said she welcomed the "courageous and enlightened decision" by the Court of Appeal.

"This desperate woman should never have been put behind bars", she said.

"Our prisons are already overflowing with women who are mentally ill, drug addicts or who have been abused.

"The lock-em-up brigade needs to realise that there are alternatives to prison for women which are far more effective in cutting crime - and keeping us all safer."


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