Few 'shaken baby' deaths will be reopened

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The Independent Online

The courts need to reconsider only a handful of 'Shaken Baby Syndrome' convictions, Attorney General Lord Goldsmith was expected to announce today, according to reports.

A large-scale review was ordered into 297 baby-death convictions involving expert testimony after Angela Cannings was freed on appeal in December 2003.

In 2004 Lord Goldsmith said appeals could be made in 28 of the cases reviewed.

In 180 cases he proposed to take no further action, while the remaining 89 related to allegations that parents or carers killed children by shaking them violently.

The BBC said that possibly only four "shaken baby" cases needed to be reopened by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

It added that Lord Goldsmith was today expected to reveal new guidance for prosecutors and expert witnesses in cases involving medical evidence on child deaths.

The judges who released Mrs Cannings ruled that a prosecution should not be brought when it rested "exclusively" on a serious disagreement between distinguished experts.

She was found guilty of smothering her seven-week-old son in 1991 and her 18-week-old son in 1999.

Expert witness Professor Roy Meadow said he believed they were not cot-death victims but his evidence was later considered as "flawed" and the conviction was quashed.

Prof Meadow also gave evidence in the case of Donna Anthony who was imprisoned for life in 1998 for killing her 11-month-old daughter and four-month-old son.

She was also freed on appeal in April 2005.

Mrs Anthony's case was one of the 28 referred to the Criminal Cases Review Commission after Mrs Cannings was released.