Friday, June 3, 2005

Baby deaths doctor'breached duty to be fair'

UK: A Home Office pathologist who claimed there was "overwhelming evidence" of a double murder in the Sally Clark baby case undertook "serious and repeated departures" from expected medical standards, a disciplinary panel heard.

Mistakes made by Dr Alan Williams led to "very serious consequences for Mrs Clark and her family", the General Medical Council's professional conduct committee heard.

Dr Williams is accused of serious professional misconduct over postmortem examinations he performed on 12-week-old Christopher Clark in 1996 and eight-week-old Harry two years later.

Mrs Clark was jailed for life for smothering the boys, but had her conviction quashed by the court of appeal after spending three years in prison.

The committee, sitting in London, has already ruled that Dr Williams failed in his duty to consider all possible causes of death and said his postmortem of Christopher was so impaired it could not be considered reliable.

It also ruled he had withheld details of some blood samples taken from Christopher and had originally given the cause of death as lower respiratory tract infection - and "this did not have a proper scientific basis".

The committee is now considering whether the facts of the case amount to serious professional misconduct.

If he is found guilty, Dr Williams could be struck off or have conditions imposed on his medical registration.

Sarah Vaughan-Jones for the GMC, said Dr Williams' cumulative actions fell "far below" standards expected of a medical practitioner.

She said his actions "potentially and actually had very serious consequences on Mrs Clark and her family", and there had been a "breach of an expert's important duty to give fair, accurate and objective evidence" at criminal trials.

Dr Williams had passed blame on to other people and some of his findings had no scientific basis, she said.

In mitigation, James Turner QC, for Dr Williams, said colleagues had heaped praise on the pathologist as being a "caring professional", and "honest professional", who showed great integrity.

There had been no deliberate move to deceive people, he said, adding: "Whatever has gone wrong has gone wrong inadvertently and in good faith and not in the cause of pursuing a crusade or hobbyhorse," against mothers whose children died.

"This is a case where the consequences were a result of an unfortunate combination and coincidence of errors on the part of a variety of individuals and institutions."

Dr Williams denies serious professional misconduct. The hearing continues.

Accused of abuse, but never tried

Mothers Sally Clark and Trupti Patel found themselves in the dock accused of murdering their babies partly on the strength of expert testimony by Sir Roy Meadows. But other families have been forcibly separated thanks to Sir Roy's testimony without police charges ever being brought.

By Just Us posted 3 June 05


Mother's conviction quashed for killing her children
LONDON - The conviction of a mother convicted six years ago of killing her two children has been quashed by London's Appeal Court.

Experts in child abuse cases face inquiry
UK: The government launched an official inquiry into the quality of expert medical evidence in child abuse cases last Thursday, as the implications of the miscarriage of justice in the Angela Cannings case continued to perplex ministers.

Cot deaths and justice
Did you kill your babies?' A whisper came from the crumpled figure in the dock: 'No.' The whisper grew louder: 'No, no.' It was as if we were witnessing torture in Reading Crown Court. It is hard to imagine a crueller inquisition than that which faced Trupti Patel: a mother loses three babies in cot death and then goes through the hell of being accused of murdering them.

Accused of abuse, but never tried

Mothers Sally Clark and Trupti Patel found themselves in the dock accused of murdering their babies partly on the strength of expert testimony by Sir Roy Meadows. But other families have been forcibly separated thanks to Sir Roy's testimony without police charges ever being brought.

Cot Death Mothers: The Witch Hunt
John Sweeney investigates when mothers, grieving the loss of a child after cot death, are wrongly accused of murder.


Appeals court told woman's sentence barbaric!

Appeal: Folbigg's lawyers argue her sentence is barbaric.But is she guilty? When she has maintains her innocence? And what about "Meadows law"?

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome! & The Kathleen Folbigg Case
Kathleen Megan Folbigg, 37, is either Australia's worst female serial killer or her case is a serious miscarriage of justice in which an innocent mother has been wrongfully convicted of infanticide.

Folbigg, convicted until proven innocent
Convicted August 2003 for the manslaughter of her eldest child Caleb, and the murder of her next three children, Patrick, Sarah and Laura. Disturbing similarities between the case of Kathleen Folbigg and that of Sally Clark (nb. Other Meadows cases Trupti Patel, Angela Cannings, Donna Anthony, Margaret Smith, Julie Ferris, Maxine Robinson) using "Meadows law" one cot death is tragic, two suspicious, three murder." The Attorney-General in England is reviewing more than 250 cases where a parent may have been wrongly convicted. In other words, Professor Meadows evidence has been totally discredited. There is a furore in England, but no mention in Australian press?

Folbigg may have been innocent
On the other hand, some people simply lied or got it wrong because the system failed, The prosecution is not equal to the defence, professional opinions can be flawed and juries can determine the wrong evidence.

Family tragedy in police spotlight
JOSEPHINE CAFAGNA, REPORTER: Next week the last chapter will be played out in a case that shocked the nation, the case of Kathleen Folbigg, found guilty of killing her four babies in NSW, at first thought to have died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Next week Kathleen Folbigg will know the sentence for her crime. In May this year, following the Folbigg conviction, Stateline made inquiries here in Victoria about any cases of multiple SIDS deaths in the one family. Stateline asked the Homicide Squad, the Coroners Court, Human Services Victoria and the SIDS Foundation if any cases were being re-examined in light of the Folbigg case. The answer was no

2nd Renaissance -36 Let The Girls Go! [263]
During 2003 an Australian woman, Kathleen Folbigg, was sentenced to 40 years in prison, with a non-parole period of 30 years. Her crime, which she continues to deny, was to consecutively smother her four children when they were aged between 8 and 19 months. She was largely convicted on the basis of entries in her private diary, although these did not specifically refer to her having killed her two sons and two daughters; only that she was her father's daughter. Her lawyers are appealing her conviction.