Mother jailed for smothering child

A mother who smothered her three-year-old daughter with a soft toy has been jailed for life.

Helen Caudwell, 42, had denied murdering Bethany at her home in Stockport on 2 October last year. A judge at Manchester Crown Court ordered her to serve a minimum term of eight years.

The court heard that she had led a double life, and had told two men they were Bethany's father. She had entered into a custody battle over Bethany with her second husband, Miles Kennerly, just months after marrying him. Following the child's death, it was confirmed that Mark Davies was the father.

Bethany was found dead in a bed in Caudwell's flat by her mother's work colleagues. A Piglet toy was lying beside her.

Caudwell first told police she may have rolled over on to her daughter and suffocated her.

Later Caudwell, who has three teenage children, offered a defence of diminished responsibility.