New hope for Julie



Jan 30 2003


By Steve Swingler, Evening Mail


A Birmingham mum convicted of killing her two children was today given fresh hope of clearing her name following the release of cot-death mother Sally Clark.

It emerged that child abuse expert Professor Roy Meadow - whose evidence in the Clark case was today hanging in tatters - also helped convict Aston mum Julie Ferris. His evidence was discredited at the Court of Appeal yesterday before Mrs Clark walked free from court after her three year ordeal behind bars.

The successful appeal has now cast doubt on the reliability on the evidence Prof Meadow gave at 32-year-old Julie's case, and that of three other Midland mothers.

Julie's family has been fighting to clear her name since her release on bail last May pending a fresh hearing into her case. Their campaign was today backed by the Shadow Health Minister Caroline Spelman (Con, Meriden).

"I have considered cases dealt with by Prof Meadow. I will now write to the families concerned to see if they want their cases reopened in light of the ruling," she said.

Julie had been detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act in June 2000 after being convicted of smothering daughter Hayley and son Brandon.

Prof Meadow said in evidence there were clear 'markers'of childabuseinthe deaths of nine-month-old Hayley, aged nine months, who died in 1993, and Brandon, eight months, who died in 1997.

But because the court ruled she had a mental age of six, Julie, from Charles Road in Aston, was not allowed to enter a plea or go into the witness box to defend herself.

She always denied the manslaughter charges and her supporters claim the babies could have been victims of the little-known condition Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy.

Julie's fight for justice could now receive the personal backing of Mrs Clark who today vowed to fight for others still suffering a similar fate.

Mrs Clark, a solicitor, said her ordeal had been a "living hell" after she was wrongly jailed for killing her two babies. The Court of Appeal ruled her convictions for murdering the babies were unsafe.

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