Mother cleared of killing son with salt

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The Independent Online

A mother has been cleared of murdering her 15-month-old son by deliberately poisoning him with excessive amounts of salt.

A jury took little more than two hours to find Marianne Williams not guilty of murder and manslaughter yesterday, following a six-week trial at Winchester Crown Court.

The prosecution claimed that Miss Williams, 24, had killed Joshua Taylor with an overdose of sodium that he had been prescribed forhis failing kidneys.

But she insisted that she cared deeply for the little boy, and experts told the court that his death was from natural causes.

Miss Williams, from Wiltshire, wept as the verdicts were delivered. Outside court, she said: "I keep having floods of relief going through me. I can't concentrate or even think about what has happened. I'm just overwhelmed. It has been a long time coming."

The case again raises questions about the way in which the parents of babies who die are put under investigation.

Miss Williams' lawyer, Jacqui Cameron, said: "Marianne is naturally delighted with the verdict and extremely pleased that common sense has prevailed. We, as lawyers, however, are very concerned that the parents, usually mothers, are continuing to face the grave charge of murder in what can only be described, at best, as complex and, at worst, dubious evidence."

Joshua was born 12 weeks premature in 2002 after Miss Williams had been in a long-term relationship with his father, Paul Taylor.The trial heard that because Joshua's kidneys were failing, they would expel too much sodium. He was given daily dosages of sodium chloride to replenish his salt levels.

Tests showed that he had very high levels of sodium in his body when he died in 2004.