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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 November 2007, 12:31 GMT
Alcohol killed mother Sally Clark
Sally Clark

A mother wrongly convicted of killing her two children died accidentally of acute alcohol intoxication, an inquest has ruled.

Solicitor Sally Clark, 42, of Hatfield Peverel, near Witham, Essex, was found dead at her home in March.

Mrs Clark was cleared of murdering her two sons, Christopher and Harry, who died in 1996 and 1998.

Essex coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray said there was no evidence Mrs Clark intended to commit suicide.

Mrs Clark was found guilty of murdering eight-week-old Harry and 11-week-old Christopher in 1999 while she was living in Wilmslow, Cheshire.

She spent three years in jail for murder, before she was cleared by the Court of Appeal in January 2003.

'Miscarriage of justice'

In a statement following Mrs Clark's death her family said she "never fully recovered from the effects of this appalling miscarriage of justice".

Coroner's officer John Pheby told the inquest Mrs Clark had been found in bed, apparently not breathing.

Paramedics were called and confirmed that she was dead.

Post-mortem tests showed she had a concentration of alcohol in her blood which would have made her five times over the drink drive limit.

Mr Pheby said Mrs Clark had undergone various assessments, eventually being diagnosed with a number of serious psychiatric problems.

He said: "These problems included enduring personality change after catastrophic experience, protracted grief reaction and alcohol dependency syndrome."

'Broken heart'

A family spokesman said after the hearing: "Sally was unable to come to terms with the false accusations, based on flawed medical evidence and the failures of the legal system, which debased everything she had been brought up to believe in and which she herself practised.

"The hope is that some good may come out of the tragedy of her untimely death and that a sense of balance will be restored which will not only protect infants but also their innocent parents."

John McManus, one of the founders of the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation, called for people in Mrs Clark's position to be given more support.

He said: "Everyone thinks it's like the film The Shawshank Redemption - you get out of jail and life is brilliant.

"You can't just come out and pick up the pieces of your life. In my opinion, this woman died of a broken heart and basically used alcohol to take away the horrors."

The coroner said there was no evidence Mrs Clark intended to commit suicide

The case of Sally Clark
28 Jan 03 |  England

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