Angela Cannings has been freed by the court of appeal from a
life sentence for killing her two baby sons after her conviction
was ruled to be “unsafe”, writes Sally
Cannings was jailed in April last year after she was found
guilty of smothering her seven-week-old son Jason in 1991 and
18-week-old Matthew in 1999.
But the decision was announced by Lord Justice Judge who said:
“These convictions are unsafe and accordingly they will be
quashed and Mrs Cannings will be discharged”.
The ruling will reopen the controversial debate about the cause
and frequency of cot deaths.
Lawyers for Cannings said that one prosecution expert professor
Roy Meadow had given “misleading” evidence that three
cot deaths in the same family was “very, very rare,”
leading to the conclusion that the cause of death was
It later emerged that Meadow’s claim that the odds of two
babies dying of cot death in the same family was 73 million to one
was inaccurate, and the odds could be as short as 64 to one.
Meadow’s expert evidence was a key factor in the cases of
Sally Clark, who was freed on appeal earlier this year over the
deaths of her two sons, and Trupti Patel who was cleared of killing
three babies at Reading crown court in the summer.
Cannings’ appeal centred on the fact that the jury, which
heard the case at Winchester crown court, was faced with the
“impossible task” of weighing up conflicting expert
evidence given by eminent paediatricians on each side who disagreed
over the cause of death.