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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 May, 2003, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
Patel grandmother 'lost five babies'
Trupti Patel
Mrs Patel denies the three murder charges
The grandmother of a woman accused of killing three of her own babies told a court how she herself had lost five children in early infancy.

Surajben Patel, 80, from a village in the Gujarat region of India, said five of her 12 children had died within a month-and-a-half of being born.

Speaking through an interpreter, Mrs Patel told Reading Crown Court that she could not explain why her children had died.

Mrs Patel is the maternal grandmother of Trupti Patel, 35, a qualified pharmacist, who is accused of murdering her two baby sons and baby daughter in separate incidents between 1997 and 2001.

All three of Trupti Patel's children collapsed suddenly at the Patel family home in Maidenhead, Berkshire, and later died in hospital.

This is something that God takes care of. We leave it to God
Surajben Patel
Mrs Patel's grandmother told the trial that the first of her babies to die, her first child - a girl born when she was aged just 18 in 1941 - died just one hour after being born one month prematurely.

Mrs Patel said her second child, a boy, died suddenly in bed at home just six days after being born.

She told the hearing that the boy had not been ill during his short life and that she had no idea why he died.

Mrs Patel said her third child, a girl, also died - just 15 days after being born.

Red boils

However, she said the baby had red boils all over her body in the two days prior to her death, although she still could not explain why she had died.

The court heard how Mrs Patel's ninth child, another girl, died at home just six days after being born in 1950 when Mrs Patel was living in Bombay.

Mrs Patel then told the court how her last child, another girl, had died suddenly a month-and-a-half after being born.

She said the baby girl had a high temperature just before she died but otherwise her health was good.

I found Mrs Patel to be a really loving mother, a very good mum, and her interaction with her babies was absolutely what I would expect.
Child bereavement counsellor Jenny Thomas

She added that she did not ask for or receive any medical explanation for why her twelfth child died, even though doctors had attempted to save her.

Mrs Patel said that there was no hospital or doctors in the village where she lived and that the nearest hospital was a day's train ride away in Bombay.

She said that none of the deaths of her children had been investigated and she could offer no explanation as to why they had died.

"This is something that God takes care of. We leave it to God," she said.

'No suspicions'

Mr Patel added that her remaining seven children were all alive and well.

The trial then heard evidence from one of the country's leading child bereavement counsellors, Jenny Thomas, who said she had helped Trupti Patel and her husband through the deaths of their three children.

Ms Thomas said she had never once had any suspicion that Mrs Patel had harmed her children or played a part in their deaths.

"All the time that I have known the Patel family I never once got even the vaguest feeling or suspicion of anything (like that)," said Ms Thomas.

"I found Mrs Patel to be a really loving mother, a very good mum, and her interaction with her babies was absolutely what I would expect.

"I knew that it was a possibility (that she could have harmed her children), I knew that it could happen, but it was never something that I had any suspicion about.

"Nothing happened ever to make me feel that there was something I might need to talk to someone else about."

The trial continues.

The BBC's Navdip Dhariwal
"Trupti Patel denies all three counts of murder"

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