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Family Law

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16 FEB 2012


(Court of Appeal (Crim); President of QBD, Griffith Williams J, Sharp J; 24 January 2012)

The mother was found guilty of manslaughter in respect of her 13-week-old son. The mother appealed in light of R v Henderson whether the directions given by the judge were correct.  The consultant forensic pathologist found evidence of 'the triad' and only credible explanation of the child's death was a shaking/impact injury. There was  extensive medical evidence by the prosecution and defence. After the trial the Royal College of Pathologists held a meeting with the prominent experts in the field, many of which had given evidence at the trial. The discussion left unresolved many of the well-known disagreements including the significance of the triad of injuries. The mother appealed, and argued that the judge should have directed the jury that this is a developing area of medical science and that they had to consider the realistic possibility of the injuries being due to an unknown cause.

Appeal dismissed. The judge's summing up had been entirely fair in a manner the jury could understand, the jury could have been in no doubt that in an area where medical science was uncertain in light of the findings made by the doctors, they could only convict if they were sure on the evidence the death had been caused in the manner alleged by the Crown and other possibilities had been excluded.

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