Mother jailed for smothering baby 30 years ago is cleared

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The Independent Online

A mother who was jailed for smothering her infant daughter almost 30 years ago was cleared yesterday.

Appeal judges found that Jennifer Liehne, 47, suffered a miscarriage of justice in 2006 when she was convicted of killing seven-month-old Jacqueline. It was ruled that the judge had not explained properly to the jury some of the medical and legal issues involved in the case. This amounted to a "material misdirection" according to the judgment. The Crown Office has confirmed that it would not seek a retrial.

Jacqueline died just five days before Christmas in 1982. It was assumed at the time that she died of cot death brought on by pneumonia. But medical experts later questioned the post-mortem finding and said signs of bleeding in the infant's lungs could have been caused by interference with her breathing.

Ms Liehne, from Edinburgh, was jailed for 10 years for the death of her daughter, though her sentence was subsequently reduced to seven years following an earlier appeal. She was initially accused of murder but the charge was reduced to culpable homicide during the trial.

An investigation into Jacqueline's death was reopened by a paediatric pathologist in 2001 when Ms Liehne became pregnant again.

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