[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 11 April, 2005, 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
Baby death mother freed on appeal
Donna Anthony was freed by the Court of Appeal
Donna Anthony was freed by the Court of Appeal
A mother who spent over six years in jail for murdering her two children has been left "shattered and overwhelmed" after her convictions were quashed.

Donna Anthony, 31, from Yeovil, was jailed for life in 1998 for killing her daughter Jordan, aged 11 months, and her son Michael, aged four months.

An Appeal Court judge said evidence at her trial from Professor Sir Roy Meadow was now "significantly undermined".

Her lawyer said she was "very very much relieved" to have been released.

George Hawks said: "This is a day of very mixed emotions.

"Donna is of course very very much relieved that after nearly seven years of prison she is a free woman.

"It is also a very difficult day as finally she is going to have to come to terms to grieve properly for the two children she lost."

He added that Donna was "absolutely determined" to campaign so that no other mother had to go through what she had.

Discredited evidence

The original case against Ms Anthony relied heavily on evidence from paediatrician Professor Meadow, whose evidence in other cases has been discredited.

Ms Anthony had always claimed both children were victims of cot death, not smothering as alleged by the prosecution. The original appeal in June 2000 was dismissed.

The expert evidence presented at trial was flawed in a number of different respects
Ray Tully

Her counsel, Ray Tully, told Lord Justice Judge, Mrs Justice Hallett and Mr Justice Leveson at the start of the appeal that Jordan died in February 1996 and Michael's death followed 13 months later in March 1997.

He said: "Our submission is that these convictions are wrong and that they are unsafe and there are two essential pillars to the submissions I wish to make to your lordships.

"First, that the expert evidence presented at trial was flawed in a number of different respects and, second, that there is now fresh evidence with regard to a potential natural cause of death in the case of Michael."

Lord Justice Judge said that statistical evidence given by professor Meadow was now "significantly undermined".

"In essence, the essential thrust of the Crown's case against the appellant at trial has been significantly undermined.

Disturbing evidence

"In the circumstances, we are persuaded that the convictions are unsafe and should be quashed."

He said that the jury at the time was "fully entitled to convict the appellant of murder" on the evidence given.

Lord Justice Judge said that although there were similarities in the case to that of Angela Cannings, whose conviction for the murder of her children was also quashed, the two cases were very different.

The judge said in the Anthony case there was "cogent and disturbing" evidence in addition to the expert evidence.

Ms Anthony's case was one of 28 referred to the Criminal Cases Review Commission after the quashing of the conviction of Angela Cannings in January last year.

The Crown Prosecution Service did not oppose the appeal at the High Court in London on Monday.

Hear Donna Anthony's statement read on her behalf

Q&A: Donna Anthony case
11 Apr 05 |  UK
Profile: Sir Roy Meadow
11 Apr 05 |  Health
Anthony latest mother to be freed
11 Apr 05 |  Somerset
The science behind cot deaths
11 Apr 05 |  Health
Baby deaths mother 'release due'
15 Mar 05 |  Somerset
Baby death mum 'should be free'
22 Dec 04 |  Somerset

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific