Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Soft toy murder mother facing jail

Helen Caudwell was found guilty of smothering her daughter Bethany

A mother who smothered her three-year-old daughter with the child's soft toy is facing life in jail after being found guilty of murder.

Helen Caudwell, 42, suffocated Bethany after leading a double life convincing two men they were both her daughter's father.

She had entered into a custody battle over Bethany with second husband Miles Kennerley just months after marrying him, Manchester Crown Court heard. She denied murder and first told police she may have rolled over on to her daughter and suffocated the child.

Later Caudwell, who has three teenage children, offered a defence of diminished responsibility, claiming she suffered an "abnormality of the mind" at the time of the killing.

But she flinched and blinked hard as the jury foreman returned a guilty verdict by a majority of 10 to two following a nine-day trial. Her relatives wept in the public gallery but Caudwell showed no emotion as the court heard she faced a mandatory life sentence.

Caudwell's first husband, Ian, tried to get his vasectomy reversed to give his wife, of Redwood Close, Cheadle Heath, Stockport, Greater Manchester, a fourth baby, but it had been unsuccessful and she had fallen pregnant by her lover Mark Davies.

She told Mr Davies and her third boyfriend, Mr Kennerley, of Sandbach, that they were both the father of Bethany and they both treated the girl as their own - unbeknown to the other - until the time of her death.

Passing sentence, Judge Clement Goldstone QC said: "Depressed you may have been but you were, as the jury found, responsible for your actions." Caudwell was jailed for the mandatory life sentence and ordered by the judge to serve a minimum of eight years before parole.

A statement released by Mr Kennerley after the verdict read: "Bethany was the kind of little girl who made everyone smile when she walked into a room. She was such a bundle of fun who could melt anyone's heart.

"Not only have I had to deal with the anguish of Bethany's death, but I have also had to come to terms with finding out that she was not biologically my daughter. This fact made absolutely no difference to my feelings for Bethany. However, this is a double blow from which my family will never recover."

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