Suzanne Holdsworth cleared of killing two-year-old Kyle Fisher

Dec 2008

"A Hartlepool woman cleared of killing two-year-old Kyle Fisher has spoken of her anger at being convicted of the offence in the first place."

Suzanne Holdsworth spent three years in jail for a crime she did not commit, for a crime that hadn't happened.

I defy anyone to listen to these two interviews with Suzanne Holdsworth and not feel supreme anger at the police, the doctors and our justice system that allowed this travesty to happen. Shame on them all.

"The jury heard that the doctors who gave evidence at trial "got it wrong" and "collectively failed to diagnose" that Kyle had a "highly unusual brain", with abnormalities which predisposed him to epilepsy."

Babysitter cleared of boy's killing
Babysitter Suzanne Holdsworth has been cleared of murdering toddler Kyle Fisher, marking the end of a long campaign to clear her name.

A jury at Teesside Crown Court acquitted Ms Holdsworth, 38, of Boggart Seacroft, Leeds, of murder and an alternative charge of manslaughter following a re-trial.

The mother-of-two was originally convicted of the two-year-old's murder in March 2005 and jailed for life but the Court of Appeal overturned her conviction after doubts were raised about medical evidence presented in the first trial.

During the re-trial the jury was given the stark choice of deciding whether Ms Holdsworth or Kyle's mother, Clare Fisher, 24, caused the severe head injuries.

During Ms Holdsworth's original trial she was accused of repeatedly banging Kyle's head against a wooden bannister with as much force as a 60mph crash, after losing her temper.

However, doubts were first raised about her conviction by journalist John Sweeney in a report for BBC Newsnight. The programme interviewed leading neuro-pathologist Dr Wainey Squier who later gave evidence for the defence in the re-trial. She said it was "unlikely" Kyle had suffered a massive blow to the head.

In May the Court of Appeal overturned Ms Holdsworth's conviction after ruling it "unsafe" and ordered a re-trial. The jury heard that the doctors who gave evidence at trial "got it wrong" and "collectively failed to diagnose" that Kyle had a "highly unusual brain", with abnormalities which predisposed him to epilepsy.

Speaking outside court, Keith Simpson, of the Crown Prosecution Service in Cleveland, said: "I am entirely satisfied that the Crown Prosecution Service and the police were wholly right in bringing this case to court for a second time."

After the case, Cleveland Police said they would not be reopening the investigation into Kyle's death.

Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Braithwaite said: "The jury have properly done their job and have acquitted Suzanne Holdsworth. It is not our intention to reopen investigations into Kyle's tragic death."

Childminder jailed for killing baby

A registered childminder has been jailed for three years for the manslaughter of a baby in her care.
Keran Henderson, 42, was in sole charge of Maeve Sheppard when she was taken to hospital unconscious and critically ill with brain injuries in March 2005.

"Even though Keran Henderson was found guilty today, no sentence will ever bring back our daughter" - statement from Mark and Ruth SheppardThe mother of two was convicted of manslaughter by a jury with a majority of ten to two at Reading Crown Court, following deliberations for more than 12 hours at the end of a five-week trial.

Passing sentence, the judge, Mr Justice Keith, said: "Mr and Mrs (Mark and Ruth) Sheppard trusted you to look after Maeve. We do not know what really happened to make you snap in the way the jury found that you did."

Henderson's husband Ian and the rest of her family reacted angrily to the verdict.

Proceedings were halted several times while the judge gave Henderson, weeping uncontrollably, time to compose herself.

The judge said to Henderson before sending her down: "Your reputation as someone who parents can confidently leave their children with has been shattered.

"You are going to have to live the rest of your life with the knowledge that Maeve died in your care."

During the trial medical experts for the Crown claimed the injuries Maeve suffered could only have been caused by violent shaking.

Her neck ligaments were "over-extended", indicating that her neck had snapped back and forth, the court heard.

But Henderson, who had seven years experience as a child minder and was also a Beaver Scout leader, claimed Maeve had a seizure while she was changing her nappy.

Expert witnesses for the defence said the injuries could have been days, weeks or even months old.

Henderson, who ran her childminding business from her home in Iver Heath in Buckinghamshire, was hired in January 2005 to look after Maeve by parents Ruth and Mark.

On the morning of March 2 2005, emergency services were called and Maeve was taken to hospital.

Doctors fought to save her but her condition deteriorated. Her life support machine was turned off two days later following a short christening ceremony.

Prosecutor Joanna Glynn said: "It is our case that Mrs Henderson violently shook Maeve and the medical evidence is that act caused Maeve's death."

A statement on behalf of the parents of 11-month-old Maeve was issued by police afterwards.

"Even though Keran Henderson was found guilty today, no sentence will ever bring back our daughter and we will never be able to forgive this woman for what she took away from us," said the couple, who have two other children.

"We would like to say we feel no animosity towards Keran's husband and children. We have lost a life for life; they will have their family back together in three years.

"We carried out the relevant checks to make sure Keran was a good, trustworthy childminder and our gut instinct was to trust her.

"It was purely a professional relationship and if only she had told us that it was not working out between her and Maeve, then we would have our baby daughter with us today.

"Now the trial has finally come to an end, we can start to think about moving on with our lives - but nothing can bring back our baby that we loved with all our hearts."

Independent Television News Limited 2007. All rights reserved.