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August 10, 2011

Fiona Donnison jailed for murdering her children in UK

Fiona Donnison jailed for murdering her children in UK

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Crime and law
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Cquote1.svg Why you did this defies logical explanation Cquote2.svg

Mr Justice Nicol

Fiona Donnison, a mother of two, has been found guilty of killing her own children. The 45-year-old, from Surrey, England, had been accused of murdering her son Harry and daughter Elise, aged three and two years respectively.

The murders occurred in January 2010, with the bodies of Harry and Elise Donnison found in bags in their mother’s car, close to the family’s former residence in East Sussex. Fiona Donnison is thought to have then awaited the arrival of Paul Donnison, her former partner, with two knives to injure him. Mr Donnison failed to appear at the scene; he was residing with a new girlfriend at the time.

On January 27 of this year, Fiona Donnison entered a police station in the town of Heathfield and confessed to murdering the children but did not inform police of the location of their bodies. When the Nissan vehicle was searched, the bodies of Elise and Harry were discovered in two separate holdalls.

In Lewes Crown Court, where the trial was held, the prosecution described Donnison suffocating the children to death and placing their bodies inside a vehicle. Donnison herself did not give evidence at trial.

The defence for Donnison claimed that she had been suffering from severe depression and was not in the correct state of mind at the time of the incident, saying that the offences should be downgraded to manslaughter. The defence claimed she was unable to recall the incident and was not able to bring herself to identify the two children by name.

A clinical psychologist contested that statement, deeming such mental health difficulties impossible in this case. It was “100% likely [she was] feigning” them, they said. The prosecution attributed their claims to the preparation involved in the committing of the crime. This, it said, was justification for the murder charge.

The jury at Lewes Crown Court unanimously found Fiona Donnison guilty of the two murders. As the verdict was delivered, the accused opted to remain in her cell. She was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum period in custody of 32 years. The judge, Mr Justice Nicol, believed that their deaths were “no accident”. He remarked: “You killed them, you who were their mother. Why you did this defies logical explanation. It seems it can only have something to do with your feelings for Paul Donnison, the children’s father and your former partner.”

Outside the court, Paul Donnison commented that his family had suffered an “almost unbearable” experience. Paul also claimed that the system for bringing criminals to justice was “biased” towards the accused, commenting on how Fiona had been handled “with kid gloves”.

With the sentence having been given out, it has emerged that prosecutors were intending to have Ms. Donnison tried for a third murder charge. This would have been for Mia, the first child Fiona had with Paul. Mia died at the age of nine months in April 2004, originally thought to be down to sudden infant death syndrome. In a hearing before the trial, the prosecuting side claimed they had “taken together” enough evidence for a murder charge to be taken in contemplation in Mia’s case. Mr Justice Cooke decided against this charge being brought on as part of the court trial, citing the absence of direct evidence about the death of Mia.



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January 27, 2010

Dead children found in car in Sussex, UK

Filed under: Crime and law,East Sussex,England,Europe,United Kingdom — admin @ 5:00 am

Dead children found in car in Sussex, UK

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

United Kingdom
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Map of England with East Sussex in red.

The bodies of two children were found this morning in a car in Heathfield, East Sussex, in the United Kingdom. A 43-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of the murders.

The boy and girl were both less than five years old, and were discovered at 11:46 this morning (GMT) when Sussex police officers forced their way into the vehicle, which was parked on Mill Close in Heathfield. The woman, who has yet to be identified, had visited Heathfield police station earlier this morning to report “an incident”, and was later arrested on suspicion of murder. The police say that they have identified the bodies. The identities will be revealed when the post mortem examinations take place, which is scheduled for next Thursday.

Cquote1.svg I would like to reassure people that it is fully contained and there is no threat to anyone in the area Cquote2.svg

—Chief Inspector Julia Pope

The woman was taken to Eastbourne District General Hospital, and has not yet been interviewed by the police. She is believed to be from Surrey but have connections with the Heathfield area. Mill Close, the road on which the incident occurred, has been closed, according to a police spokeswoman, who said, “An investigation is now under way and the area around the scene is cordoned off.” Chief Inspector Julia Pope, Wealden district policing commander, said, “This is a very tragic incident, but I would like to reassure people that it is fully contained and there is no threat to anyone in the area. We will move to restore normality and access to Mill Close as quickly as possible.” A spokesman for the South East Coast Ambulance Service said, “We sent an ambulance and two response cars but sadly two young children were pronounced dead at the scene.”



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January 26, 2010

UK mother cleared of attempted murder of ME-suffering daughter

UK mother cleared of attempted murder of ME-suffering daughter

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

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Does the law on assisted suicide need to be clarified?
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Bridget Gilderdale, a mother from Stonegate, East Sussex, has been found not guilty of the attempted murder of her daughter, Lynn Gilderdale—a 31-year-old sufferer of chronic fatigue syndrome (more commonly known as ME)—after her daughter was found dead at their home on 4 December, having been killed using a concoction of pills and morphine. The case has called into question the United Kingdom’s assisted suicide laws.

Cquote1.svg There is no dispute that you were a caring and loving mother and that you considered that you were acting in the best interests of your daughter Cquote2.svg

—Mr Justice Bean

Bridget Gilderdale had already admitted to aiding and abetting her daughter’s suicide, but the jury decided, unanimously, to acquit her of a charge of attempted murder. The presiding judge, Mr Justice Bean, had already questioned the accusation’s suitability, asking prosecutor Sally Howes “why it was considered to be in the public interest”. Once the verdict was delivered, he said, “I do not normally comment on the verdicts of juries but in this case their decision, if I may say so, shows common sense, decency and humanity which makes jury trials so important in a case of this kind. There is no dispute that you were a caring and loving mother and that you considered that you were acting in the best interests of your daughter.”

Gilderdale was given a 12-month conditional discharge. The case stands in contrast to the life sentence received last week by Frances Inglis, who killed her severely brain damaged son Tom by injecting him with heroin. Tom had, however, never expressed any wish to die, and his mother had ignored medical advice, while Lynn had previously attempted suicide. When this attempt had failed, her mother had assisted her in ending her life.

Cquote1.svg at present the law is a mess. Cquote2.svg

—Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying

The case has brought into the limelight the debate over a person’s “right to die” and the United Kingdom’s laws on assisted suicide. Some claim that, with a new draft policy clarifying the law in the pipeline, Bridget Gilderdale should not have been prosecuted at all. A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service defended the decision to prosecute, saying that “It was not clear cut: there was a sequence of events and the toxicologist could not prove which of these stages resulted in death,” and that it was not certain whether Lynn Gilderdale had died from assisted suicide. Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, says that there is a “clear ethical difference” between asisted suicide and murder, and that the law does not take this into account. She said, “Ultimately, the Government needs to review the law in this area, as this case highlights at present the law is a mess.”



Related news

  • “UK woman convicted of ‘mercy’ murder of son” — Wikinews, January 21, 2010

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November 5, 2007

In pictures: UK celebrates Bonfire night

In pictures: UK celebrates Bonfire night

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Every year around November 5th, people in Great Britain and some parts of the Commonwealth celebrate Guy Fawkes night to commemorate the dissident from York and his Roman Catholic conspirators who failed to blow up the houses of Parliament on November 5, 1605. This so-called Gunpowder Plot is celebrated with firework displays and sparklers, bonfires and Guy Fawkes effigies.

Fire experts, always busy around this time of year, have called for the use of safe and legal firework displays and have urged citizens to attend organised public displays. Every year dozens of people sustain injuries due to careless handling of fireworks or fires. Notably, the city of York is not having a public firework display this year, as health and safety measures would raise costs excessively.

Events in Lewes, East Sussex (noted for Bonfire events and processions) were for the most part peacful, with only 16 arrests, mainly for public order offences. There had however been calls for certain tradtions of the Lewes events to be banned prior to the event on safety grounds.

Critics say that bonfires and fireworks are not environmentally friendly. Piles of wood prepared beforehand are attractive nests for hibernating creatures like hedgehogs, who might burn in the bonfires. Some even suggest that Fawkes’ failed attack is not something to commemorate at all.

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May 6, 2006

Cruise liner off England coast catches fire

Cruise liner off England coast catches fire

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Saturday, May 6, 2006

A cruise ship caught fire 32 km (20 miles) off the southeast coast of England. The blaze started in the engine-room of the Calypso, which had 708 passengers and crew onboard.

The passengers were mainly Dutch.

Specialist firefighters transported by helicopter from the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service tackled the fire.

It was tugged to Southampton by the Anglican Monarch, a tug boat jointly operated by England and France. The relieved passengers left to boat 16 hours after the fire started.

“A team will be going onboard to assess the situation, so time will tell,” said the Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokeswoman.

There were no causualties and no evacuation.

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March 26, 2005

Former British Prime Minister James Callaghan dies aged 92

Former British Prime Minister James Callaghan dies aged 92

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Saturday, March 26, 2005

London – The former British prime minister Leonard James Callaghan, the Baron of Cardiff has died at the age of 92, just a day before his ninety-third birthday. He died at his home in East Sussex, leaving two daughters and a son. His wife, Audrey, died just eleven days ago.

James Callaghan was prime minister from 1976-79 before Margaret Thatcher became prime minster in 1979 after the surprise resignation of Harold Wilson. His premiership could be considered to include some of the bleakest times for Britain, since he was Prime Minister during the 1978-79 winter of discontent, when there were numerous strikes. However, his proudest achievement was the introduction of cat’s eyes in Britain’s roads when he was transport secretary.

Tributes including the prime minster Tony Blair saying he was a “giant” of the Labour movement. Former rival and prime minister Margaret Thatcher said he was a “formidable opponent”. Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown said he was “mourned throughout the world” and “It was a commitment to public service that brought Jim Callaghan into Parliament in 1945, and while Jim rose to the top he never forgot his roots.”

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