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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 April 2006, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
Salt case couple facing retrial
Ian and Angela Gay
Ian and Angela Gay have always denied poisoning Christian
A couple convicted of killing their three-year-old foster son by poisoning him with salt are facing a retrial.

Ian Gay, 39, and his 40-year-old wife Angela, from Halesowen, won an appeal court hearing against a conviction for the manslaughter of Christian Blewitt.

The couple, who planned to adopt the boy, were jailed for five years in 2005. They have been released on bail.

Christian died in hospital four days after staying at their home. High levels of salt were found in his body.

The Gays have served 15 months of their five-year jail terms. The retrial will be heard later this year.

In a BBC interview Ian Gay said: "Prison has changed us. This whole experience has changed us a great deal. I hope that one day we'll regain our trust in the human race but right now we're just trying to get our feet back on the ground and our lives back in order.

"We've had an experience over the last 15 months which has certainly changed our lives and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives."

I had threats of being beaten up, being cut up, having water thrown at me and I had salt put into my clothes.
Angela Gay on her time in prison

Speaking outside court, Angela Gay said she was pleased the convictions had been quashed.

"However we must now face the fresh agony of a retrial," she said.

"We now know for certain what we believed all along. That Christian died of natural causes.

"We are now looking forward to going home."

After thanking family and friends, she added: "Yet again we protest our innocence and hope that one day soon justice will finally be done."

Appeal lawyers argued Christian had a rare condition, a sort of salt diabetes, which led to the high salt levels.

Prison abuse

The court held that if the jury at the original trial had heard fresh evidence suggesting Christian could have died of natural causes the verdict might have been different.

Mrs Gay told the BBC she had been the target for abuse from other prisoners while on a segregation unit.

"I had threats of being beaten up, being cut up, having water thrown at me and I had salt put into my clothes," she said.

Christian Blewitt
Christian Blewitt was placed with the couple in 2002

Christian died after being found unconscious at the couple's house in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, in December 2002.

Lord Justice Richards, sitting with Mr Justice Penry-Davey and Judge Ann Goddard, said the appeal court had not lost sight of the fact that the medical evidence, though important, formed only part of the evidence in the case.

The couple, having recently taken on three children with a view to adoption, were "in a position of considerable stress", he said.

Difficulties experienced with Christian added to that stress but did not alter the possibility that the fresh evidence could have influenced the outcome of the trial.

Arguing against a retrial Michael Mansfield QC said the scientific dilemma facing medical experts could not be solved by asking a fresh jury to grapple with it.

Prosecutors at the original trial argued the couple either murdered him by brute force or were guilty of manslaughter by feeding him salt as a punishment for naughtiness.

The couple have always insisted they loved Christian and his younger brother and sister, who have since been successfully adopted elsewhere.

Angela and Ian Gay's solicitor speaks out on the case

Salt couple: How jail changed us
12 Apr 06 |  West Midlands

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