Mother cleared of poisoning son with salt

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The Independent Online

A young Wiltshire mother has been cleared of the murder of her 15-month-old son by poisoning him with salt.

A jury found 24-year-old Marianne Williams not guilty of both the murder and manslaughter of Joshua Taylor following a six-week trial at Winchester Crown Court.

She was cleared of giving her seriously-ill son, who was born prematurely with failing kidneys, excessive amounts of sodium, leading to his death on February 27, 2004.

During the trial, the prosecution alleged that Williams, who was on antidepressants, killed her son because she felt she could not cope with caring for him.

She had seen the consequences of too much sodium in his system earlier in February, when the child was taken to hospital suffering from high salt levels, the trial was told.

The defence said Joshua died as a result of a combination of his medical condition and the drugs he was taking for his care.

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, which was necessary for a "healthy existence" and "healthy growth".

DI Matt Johnson, of Wiltshire Police, said outside court: "The investigation carried out by Wiltshire Police into the sudden death of Joshua Taylor was complex and required sensitivity, thoroughness and, of necessity, detailed liaison with not only medical experts but a number of other agencies including social services.

"The decision to bring charges was only taken after lengthy consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service and a meticulous review of all the evidence that was available.

"I acknowledge the verdict reached by the jury and would add only that I am satisfied that every possible piece of evidence that could be found was properly presented to the jury in this case."