Mother poisoned baby boy with table salt, court told

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The Independent Online

A young mother murdered her 16-month-old son by poisoning him with table salt on the day he was discharged from hospital, a jury has been told.

Marianne Williams, 24, from Wiltshire, is accused of giving her son, Joshua Taylor, "dangerously high" amounts of sodium, which resulted in his death.

Joshua, who weighed only 2lb 10oz when he was born, was allegedly poisoned within 24 hours of returning home after lengthy medical treatment following a difficult birth. Mrs Williams, who was 21 at the time of the death in February 2004, denies a charge of murder and an alternative charge of manslaughter.

Richard Smith QC, for the prosecution at Winchester Crown Court, said Joshua was taken into hospital on 24 February in a seriously ill condition.

"Joshua's death had been caused by that very high level of sodium in his body ... The evidence leads to a sad but inevitable conclusion that this defendant, Marianne Williams, administered that sodium to cause her son's death," Mr Smith told the jury.

Joshua was born by emergency Caesarean section 12 weeks prematurely on 26 November 2002. He had a number of medical problems, and struggled to put on weight. Because he was born with small kidneys, Joshua was medicated with sodium chloride almost every day, the court heard.

Tests showed that the boy had very high levels of sodium in his body, and that he died three days later.

The court heard that Mrs Williams had a very difficult pregnancy with twins, the other of whom died in the womb.

The trial continues.