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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 November, 2004, 16:12 GMT
Mother cleared of murdering baby
Margaret Smith
Margaret Smith was cleared on a retrial
A mother has been cleared of murdering her four-month-old son more than 10 years ago.

Margaret Smith, 39, from Hull, was retried after controversial paediatrician Prof Sir Roy Meadow gave evidence at the original trial in 2002.

On Tuesday, the jury at Newcastle Crown Court found her not guilty of both murder and manslaughter.

Mrs Smith, who stabbed her first husband to death, denied smothering baby Keith at her home in 1994.

Second husband

The jury was not told during the eight-day hearing that this was a retrial.

Nor were they told that Mrs Smith and her second husband were jailed for six years for killing her first husband, Robert (Jock) Brannan, in 1995.

Mr Brannan, 53, was discovered in his bath with 51 stab wounds.

The couple blamed each other and were cleared of murder at York Crown Court but jailed for six years for manslaughter.

In 2002 the mother of nine was convicted of Keith's murder, and given a life sentence.

She claimed Keith had died from cot death.

Trip to hospital

Her defence team won an appeal after showing Prof Meadow's evidence at the original trial at Leeds Crown Court was "prejudicial" and should have been inadmissible.

Prof Meadow said the killing of a baby by its parents was often preceded by a trip to hospital during which a parent claimed the infant has a serious illness.

The Leeds jury was told Mrs Smith took her son to hospital some months before.

Girl's evidence

The Leeds trial in 2002 came about after Mrs Smith was accused by a child witness of smothering Keith.

The girl came forward in 2000, and claimed she saw Mrs Smith put a pillow over his face to stop him crying at her home in St John's Grove in Hull.

Outside the court, Mrs Smith's solicitor Richard Thompson said his client was relieved her ordeal was finally over.

Mr Thompson said the evidence of Prof Meadow had played a crucial part in her original conviction.

"I think it is quite apparent that he played a significant role," he said.

Tuesday's verdict follows successful appeals by Angela Cannings and Sally Clark, as well as the acquittal of pharmacist Trupti Patel, who were all accused of murdering their babies.

The background to Margaret Smith's case

Mother wins baby killing appeal
07 Apr 04 |  Humber
Baby killer given life sentence
10 Dec 02 |  England


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