Mother denies murdering children
A woman has pleaded not guilty to killing her two children whose bodies were found in the boot of a car.
The bodies of three-year-old Harry and two-year-old Elise Donnison were found zipped up in two separate holdalls in the boot of a Nissan car near the family home in Heathfield, East Sussex.
Results from post-mortem examinations showed they probably died from asphyxiation either on January 26 or 27 last year, and appeared to have been dead for less than 24 hours from when they were found.
On Tuesday their mother, Fiona Donnison, 44, formerly of Marshwood Road, Lightwater, Surrey, pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder. She was further remanded in custody.
Her pleas came on the day she was due to stand trial at Lewes Crown Court for the alleged offences. The case was adjourned to possibly June or July for further reports to be prepared by psychologists.
Blonde Donnison, wearing a black jacket and scarf, spoke only to confirm her name and enter her pleas in front of a packed public gallery.
Defence counsel Simon Russell-Flint QC said expert reports had been served on the court ahead of the expected opening of the trial, which was due to last up to four weeks.
But he added: "The reports reveal the necessity for further expert opinion to be obtained by both sides, the prosecution and the defence, so as to be able to ascertain properly the defendant's mental state at the material time."
Judge Mr Justice Nicol set a date for a further hearing for March 15 when a new trial date is expected to be fixed.
He said: "It's a difficult decision to postpone the trial, particularly as everyone has come today expecting it to start, and witnesses are inconvenienced. The matter is put back further and these are events that took place over a year ago but I have to give priority to ensuring that it is fair for both sides."