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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 October 2006, 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK
Baby's salt death may be accident
Marianne Williams
Marianne Williams denies murdering her son Joshua in 2004
A doctor giving evidence at the trial of a baby alleged to have died after being poisoned by salt has said the death could have been an accident.

Joshua Taylor, born prematurely, received care from Dr Rodney Gilbert during the first 14 months of his life.

Marianne Williams, 24, from Wiltshire denies killing her 15-month-old son by salt poisoning, in February 2004.

Dr Gilbert told Winchester Crown Court that he was "unable to exclude the possibility that an accident was made".

The trial had heard how Joshua was born in November 2002, 12 weeks early with very small kidneys.

Lack of motive

He received care at Southampton General Hospital following his birth, receiving up to 11 different medications daily - including doses of sodium chloride.

On 24 February 2004, he was taken seriously ill and returned to hospital, after being cared for by his mother at home the previous night.

His death came three days later. High salt levels in his blood led to severe brain damage.

The court heard that Joshua had been well when he was taken to stay at his mother's house.

Marianne Williams holding her son, Joshua
Joshua had medical problems and needed daily medication

The jury were informed that they had to decide whether Joshua had become naturally dehydrated or had been deliberately poisoned.

The prosecution alleges Ms Williams gave a salt overdose to Joshua after seeing the effects of too much sodium a few weeks earlier.

Dr Gilbert, a paediatric nephrologist, told the court that although he could not rule out an accident had happened he believed Joshua had been poisoned by salt.

Michael Topolski QC, defending, asked Dr Gilbert: "Did you or anyone ever see any evidence of hostility by the mother towards this child?"

Dr Gilbert answered "No".

Richard Smith QC, prosecuting, admitted there was no clear motive for Ms Williams to kill her son.

The trial continues.

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