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Last Updated: Monday, 10 December 2007, 15:11 GMT
Cleared mother loses cash battle
Lorraine Harris
Lorraine Harris's manslaughter conviction was quashed
A judge has dashed the hopes of a mother who wanted compensation for her years in prison after she was cleared of killing her four-month-old son.

Lorraine Harris, 38, from Long Eaton, Derbyshire, was jailed in 2000 for three years for manslaughter.

In July 2005, the Court of Appeal quashed her conviction after fresh medical evidence came to light.

But a High Court judge said there was no compelling evidence of a miscarriage of justice sufficient for compensation.

Shaken-baby syndrome

Ms Harris went to the High Court to challenge the home secretary's decision not to award her compensation.

She had already completed her sentence when her case reached the Appeal Court.

The Home Office refused her application for compensation, saying the 1988 Criminal Justice Act stated that it should be paid only where a "newly discovered fact" established a clear miscarriage of justice.

Ms Harris's barrister, Hugh Southey, told the High Court the prosecution case stood or fell on the medical evidence that three injuries or symptoms suffered by four-month-old Patrick McGuire could have resulted only from "shaken-baby syndrome" or a "non-accidental head injury".

New evidence presented by a neuropathologist cast considerable doubt on this "triad" hypothesis and was the reason behind the Appeal Court quashing her conviction.

Patrick McGuire
Patrick McGuire was only four months old when he died

The Home Office's refusal of compensation was based on its claims that the new medical evidence heard by the Appeal Court did not constitute a "newly discovered fact" but was simply a revised statement of a medical opinion.

Mr Justice Mitting accepted that the home secretary had adopted too "narrow" an approach when deciding what might constitute a "newly discovered fact".

But he said the Appeal Court ruling "fell short of demonstrating beyond reasonable doubt that there has been a miscarriage of justice in this case".

He also refused permission for Ms Harris to lodge an appeal against his judgement.

Her solicitor Michael Pemberton said she would be "disappointed that the matter is not closed. She is struggling to get on with her life."

SEE ALSO
Baby killer mother set to appeal
21 Apr 05 |  Derbyshire

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