Jurors told they 'must not flinch' from a guilty verdict on mother alleged to have killed babies

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A jury was told yesterday it "must not flinch" from returning guilty verdicts after the highly emotional trial of a mother accused of killing three of her babies.

Paul Dunkels QC, the prosecuting counsel, said the jury members in the case of Trupti Patel, 35, should not let their emotions stand in the way of a "clinical assessment" of the facts. In his speech at the end of a trial lasting five and a half weeks, Mr Dunkels said something had led Mrs Patel to harm her children. "Look at all the evidence, think about the whole story, when you do so you will be driven to the conclusion you are sure these babies were killed by this defendant," he said.

"It may be a conclusion you come to with a heavy heart but if, as we suggest, it must be that conclusion and you find that is what happened, you must not flinch from returning verdicts of guilty."

Mrs Patel, a qualified pharmacist, denies murdering her two baby sons, Amar and Jamie, and baby daughter Mia, none of whom survived beyond the age of three months. All three collapsed in separate incidents at the Patels' family home in Maidenhead, Berkshire, between 1997 and 2001 and later died.

Mr Dunkels said the jurors could find her guilty of murder even if they did not conclude she had plotted to smother or suffocate her children. He said it was enough for there to have been an intention to kill that came to her "in one moment" and then left, leaving her distressed. "There does not have to be some sort of plotting, or planning, or premeditation - it is plain there was not," he said.

"It is sufficient if it is an intention that comes to her in one moment, dwells with her for a moment and then, as soon as she can put her intention into effect, it leaves her.

"As she regrets what she has done, as the full impact of the situation she has created by her own hands seeps through her, she becomes distressed. It is plain there was regret. Her natural instincts reassert themselves and she is left with sorrow and bitter regret."

Mr Dunkels told the jury of 10 men and one woman that a parent could kill his or her child while appearing to be normal in "every other respect". He said the prosecution did not have to prove a motive and asked the jury not to get "hung up" on the question of whether a mother could defy her instincts to kill three of her children.

Mr Dunkels also told the jury not to be overawed by the complexity of the medical evidence in the case. Mr Dunkels told the jurors to "keep their feet on the ground" when considering the medical possibility that Mrs Patel's three babies had died from a rare inherited genetic or metabolic disorder.

The trial was adjourned until Monday when Kieran Coonan QC, for the defence, is expected to give his closing speech to the court.