Baby-death mother, 19, goes free

A teenage mother convicted of cruelty to her nine-month-old baby, who was battered to death, wept as she went free from the Old Bailey yesterday.

Imposing a 12-month conditional discharge on Clare Taylor, 19, Judge Henry Pownall said he believed the person who had inflicted the fatal injuries on Darren Lee was her lover, David Larkin. Larkin, 32, was found guilty of cruelty, but only on the basis of neglect, and jailed for three years last month.

Sentencing Taylor, Judge Pownall said: "I find myself in an unenviable position. On one hand Darren suffered a dreadful death for which someone should be very severely punished. I don't believe, myself, that person is you - it is truly Larkin. I think y o u have been punished enough."

Detective Chief Inspector Colin Westwood said later: "Because there were no independent witnesses to the assaults on Darren and neither Taylor nor Larkin sought to explain to us how Darren sustained his injuries, they could not be charged with murder or manslaughter."

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