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Trupti PATEL

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Justice miscarriage
Characteristics: Trupti Patel was accused of suffocating three of her own babies but cleared of murder in 2003
Number of victims: 0
Date of murders: 1997 / 1999 / 2001
Date of arrest: May 2002
Date of birth: 1978
Victims profile: Her sons Amar and Jamie and daughter Mia (none of them survived beyond three months)
Method of murder: Suffocation
Location: Maidenhead, Berkshire, England, United Kingdom
Status: Acquitted on June 11, 2003
 
 
 
 
photo gallery
 
 
 
 

Trupti Patel

Pharmacist Trupti Patel was cleared in 2003 of killing her sons Amar and Jamie and daughter Mia between 1997 and 2001 in the family's Berkshire home.

None of the babies survived past three months but Mrs Patel always denied suffocating them.

Prof Meadow gave evidence in her trial at Reading Crown Court in May 2003, saying their deaths were probably caused by an adult suffocating them or restricting their breathing.

He told the court there were four factors which he believed supported his conclusion that the three babies were asphyxiated.

These were, he said: "The fractured ribs (in Mia), the fact that the children underwent a lot of medical investigation in life before death, the fact that there was a very short interval for two of the children between being well and dying and fourthly the fact that three consecutive children died."

Prof Meadow acknowledged there was a "theoretical possibility" that an as-yet-unidentified illness or medical condition could have caused the deaths of Mrs Patel's three children.

However, he told the court he believed that was extremely unlikely.

 
 

Trupti Patel is a qualified pharmacist from Berkshire, England, who was acquitted in 2003 of murdering three of her children, Amar (5 September 199710 December 1997), Jamie (21 June 19996 July 1999), and Mia (14 May 20015 June 2001).

Early life

Patel was born into a family of Punjabis who had moved from India to England. She spent her childhood in Lancashire, and attended grammar school. She attended King's College London, where she gained a B.Sc. in pharmacy.

Around this time, she met her future husband, Jayant, a qualified electrical engineer who later worked as a business analyst for British Telecom. They were married within seven months, and their first child, a girl, was born in 1995.

Charges and trial

Their second child, a boy, died unexpectedly at the age of two months, in December 1997. Eighteen months later, another boy died aged just 15 days. Autopsies yielded no explanations for the deaths, but a daughter who died at the age of 22 days in June 2001 was found to have four broken ribs. A police investigation was started, which led to Patel's arrest in May 2002. She was charged with the murder of the three children.

The case, which was heard at Reading crown court, was one of a number of famous court cases in Britain in which mothers who reported more than one cot death were accused of murder. It was one of a number of cases in which evidence was given by Roy Meadow, a controversial pediatrician whose testimony helped to convict Sally Clark, Angela Cannings, and Donna Anthony of murdering their babies.

Meadow's claim that the likelihood of two babies dying from natural causes in the same family was one in 73 million prompted the Royal Statistical Society to write a letter of complaint to the Lord Chancellor, stating that the figure had "no statistical basis"; other experts said that when genetic and environmental factors were taken into account, the figure was closer to one in 200.

Meadow, giving evidence for the prosecution, listed four indications of Patel's guilt. One was the injuries suffered by the third child to die. Patel's explanation was that the rib fractures had resulted from attempts at resuscitation. The second and third points were that the children had undergone several medical examinations, and all had been well until shortly before their deaths. The fourth point was that three consecutive children had died, and that, according to Meadow, "in general, sudden and unexpected death does not run in families."

One of the defence witnesses was genetics specialist Professor Michael Patton, who testified that several cot deaths in the same family could be caused by an undiscovered genetic defect, and that the chances of experiencing more than one cot death could be as high as one in twenty. The court heard evidence that Patel's maternal grandmother lost five children in infancy, but that her remaining seven children were "alive and well".

By the time the case came to court, Meadow's claims about the likelihood of a second cot death in the same family had been largely discredited. Clark's conviction for the murder of her sons had been overturned some months earlier, and Cannings's guilt was disputed by many.

After the trial started, two key prosecution witnesses, both of whom examined Mia's body and disputed Patel's claim that the fractured ribs were caused by attempts at resuscitation, said that they were no longer sure.

Professor Rupert Risdon, a paediatric pathologist, wrote to the judge saying that he had found evidence of rib fractures caused by resuscitation in three children that he had examined in the previous month alone, and Nathaniel Carey, a Home Office pathologist, said he could "no longer state categorically that the rib fractures were not due to resuscitation."

Acquittal

On 11 June 2003, Patel was acquitted. She announced shortly after her acquittal that her husband would have a vasectomy, as they were unwilling to take the risk of having another child. A court order imposed on her after the death of Mia in 2001, requiring her to be supervised time with her remaining daughter, was being reassessed by social services in light of her acquittal.

 
 

Mother cleared of killing babies

BBC.co.uk

June 11, 2013

A mother has been cleared of murdering her three babies by a jury at Reading Crown Court.

There were cheers as the jury acquitted 35-year-old pharmacist Trupti Patel - who put both hands over her mouth and let out a sob as she was cleared of three counts of murder.

Mrs Patel, from Maidenhead, Berkshire, denied killing her sons Amar and Jamie, and daughter Mia between 1997 and 2001 - none of them survived beyond three months.

Outside the court she said she was "absolutely delighted".

Tremendous support

"Words can't describe how we've been feeling. It should never have come to court."

After the verdict, the NSPCC called for an overhaul of the way child death cases are investigated.

Mrs Patel's solicitor, Margaret Taylor, said in a statement: "Trupti Patel has spent the last year in torment.

"She walks from the court a free woman.

"She wants to publicly acknowledge the tremendous support she has received from her husband, friends and family."

The jury of 10 men and one woman acquitted Mrs Patel shortly after being sent out to deliberate on Wednesday, following a six-and-a-half week trial.

Her family and friends erupted with a cheer of "yes" from the public gallery as the verdicts were announced.

'Jury should decide'

Mrs Patel closed her eyes and began to shake as the verdicts on Amar and Jamie were read out but began sobbing when the jury foreman gave the not guilty verdict on Mia.

Mrs Patel was arrested following the death of Mia, the third of her children to die.

She denied she had smothered her babies or restricted their breathing by squeezing their chests.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police defended the force's decision to investigate.

"We took a decision that there was evidence which a jury should have an opportunity to decide on, as has now occurred," he said.

The NSPCC has now called for an overhaul of the way child deaths are investigated.

Chris Cloke, of the NSPCC, said: "Sometimes it can be very difficult to ascertain why infants die.

'Back to normality'

"It is therefore absolutely vital that these tragic incidents are properly investigated without stigmatising parents.

"The NSPCC wants to see systematic review and analysis of all child deaths by teams made up of health experts, police and social service professionals."

Joyce Epstein, director of the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, said most sudden infant deaths were natural and that there was a high risk of it happening with more than one child in a family.

"Unfortunately, there is a current eagerness by some to view all sudden and unexpected deaths with suspicion, particularly where there is a second death in the family," she said.

Mrs Patel said they now wanted to "get back to some sort of normality" and said of her family: "They have never wavered. And that's what families are all about."

 
 

Patel case raises questions

By Alison Holt - BBC social affairs correspondent

June 11, 2003

Each day for six weeks Trupti Patel walked into Reading Crown Court to hear the deaths of each of her three babies discussed in the most distressing detail.

Accused of their murder, she sat in the dock listening intently to the evidence, her extended family just a few feet away in the public gallery.

Throughout they have been united in insisting she is not capable of killing her children. On Wednesday, the jury agreed.

The tragedy of this case runs deep. Not only has Trupti Patel had three babies die for sudden unexplained reasons, but she has then been accused of their murders.

Her son Amar died in December 1997 at three months of age. Two years later Jamie died at just two weeks and one day old.

They were said to be cot deaths, but when Mia died in June 2001 the family was put under investigation. She was three weeks and one day old. She also had four fractured ribs.

The prosecution claimed that Trupti Patel had squeezed the life from her tiny daughter, but during the trial doctors said the ribs might have been fractured as paramedics tried to resuscitate her on the way to hospital.

At the heart of the case is the assertion made by medical experts for the prosecution that cot death does not run in families, but murder does.

The defence disagreed and Mrs Patel's 80-year-old grandmother travelled from India to give evidence. She lost five babies for unexplained reasons.

There is also scientific evidence that cot death runs in some families.

Dr David Drucker is a microbiologist at Manchester University. He along with colleagues has discovered a faulty gene which means the immune system of some babies doesn't work well enough to fight everyday illnesses.

Infecting organisms

"The baby will respond less well to infection," he said.

"It will respond less well to toxins made by infecting organisms and if those toxins are very poisonous, which they are, then it's not so surprising that some of the babies with what's been called the cot death gene are more vulnerable.

"You would expect them to die with higher frequency than babies who don't have the so-called cot death gene."

It's a complex area of medicine and doctors still have along way to go before they understand the causes of cot death.

But Dr Drucker said: "It is entirely possible that research in the next few years will explain all sorts of diseases that we can't explain at the moment.

"In fact I think you'd have to be very stupid to think all the research into DNA is not going to have that effect."

Mrs Patel is not the first mother to face the trauma of being accused of murdering her own children.

Earlier this year Sally Clark was freed by the Court of Appeal after her convictions for murdering her two babies were overturned.

It was only when vital blood tests were found showing the second son had died of natural causes that Sally Clark was able to clear her name.

Her husband Steve believes in these cases mothers are presumed guilty.

"That's a reversal of the burden of proof. In these cases the parents - normally the mother - has to prove how the baby died and of course if the doctors don't know, how can the parents know? All they can say is we don't know."

The Clarks believe every unexplained death of a child should be investigated by a team of a paediatric experts.

This way a standard set of tests would be carried out by people specialised in looking into why a baby has died.

They say this would be the best way of preventing other families living through the nightmares that they and the Patels have faced.

 
 

How cot deaths shattered mother's dreams

Jeevan Vasagar and Rebecca Allison - The Guardian

June 12, 2003

Trupti Patel may never find all the answers to her family's tragedy.

When Trupti Patel gave birth to her second child she and her husband Jayant felt their life was complete.

The couple, who had "always hoped" to give their baby girl a brother or sister, had finally realised their dream of creating the perfect nuclear family. But it was to be a matter of just three months before their comfortable middle-class life in Maidenhead, Berkshire, was cruelly shattered.

The sudden death of their son, Amar, left a deep void at the centre of their world. What was to follow over the next six years would change their lives forever.

Born into a family of Punjabis who moved from India to England in 1965, Trupti Patel spent her childhood in Bolton, Lancashire, where she attended grammar school and excelled in chemistry. After gaining a BSc in pharmacy from Kings College London, she went on to train at Greenwich hospital.

It was around this time that the softly spoken young scientist was introduced to Jayant, a qualified electrical engineer, who now works as business analyst for British Telecom. The couple were soon very close, and were each so confident they had met their soulmate that within seven months they were married, despite pleas from both families to wait for another year.

Within two years they had begun trying for children. Their first child, a girl, was born in 1995. When Amar came along in 1997 the couple couldn't believe their luck. "We felt that our family was complete," Mrs Patel said.

Their joy was shortlived. Amar died on December 10 1997. Two years later, a second son, Jamie, also died. He had been 15 days old. The family was devastated.

When Mrs Patel discovered that her 22-day-old daughter, Mia, was not breathing on June 5 2001, her reaction was "complete shock - I couldn't believe that this could happen three times".

Neither could the police. Postmortem examinations on both her sons found no discernible cause of death. But when Mia died, she was found to have four broken ribs. Detectives launched an investigation, lasting almost a year, which led to Mrs Patel being arrested in May last year.

The pharmacist, who has always protested her innocence, welcomed the police investigation, saying she hoped it would give her some answers.

Her acquittal yesterday will have brought great relief, but the answers she was so desperate to find failed to materialise. She may never find out why her babies died.

Crucial evidence at her trial was given by the eminent paediatrician, Sir Roy Meadow, well known for his claim that, unless proven otherwise, "one cot death is a tragedy, two is suspicious and three is murder".

Sir Roy had also given evidence at the trial of Angela Cannings, jailed for murder last year after two babies died suddenly, and had played a controversial role in the conviction of Sally Clark, who was freed on appeal in January.

At Reading crown court, he listed four factors which he believed pointed to Mrs Patel's guilt. First was Mia's injuries, which her mother tearfully claimed were inflicted when she was trying to save her baby's life. Despite the fact that Mia was only 20 days old when she collapsed, the prosecution argued that "a considerable degree of force" must have been applied to break her ribs.

Medical checks

Second, Sir Roy said the children had undergone a lot of medical investigation during their brief lives. This was particularly true of Mia, who had been checked extensively for possible abnormalities because of the deaths of her brothers.

The third factor was the short interval between the babies being well and their deaths. In other words, all three children had seemed entirely healthy before suffering a sudden and fatal collapse.

If they had been killed by some unknown disease that the tests had not picked up, it must have been a condition that struck "like lightning", Sir Roy said.

The fourth count against Mrs Patel was the fact that three consecutive children died. "In general, sudden and unexpected death does not run in families," Sir Roy told the jury.

It appeared a convincing argument. Yet by the time Sir Roy had come to give evidence, the jurors had already seen faultlines appear in the prosecution's case.

A key prosecution witness, Rupert Risdon, had told them he was no longer sure "beyond reasonable doubt" that Mrs Patel had murdered her children.

Professor Risdon, who works at Great Ormond Street hospital and is Britain's foremost paediatric pathologist, had examined Mia's body two years ago and concluded that the rib fractures were "extremely unlikely" to be the result of resuscitation.

At the time, he had never come across broken ribs in infants caused by attempted life-saving. Then, two weeks after the trial started, he wrote to the judge saying he had found evidence of rib fractures caused by resuscitation in three children he had examined in the previous month alone.

A Home Office pathologist, Nathaniel Carey, who was also present at Mia's postmortem examination, said he too had "downgraded" the significance of the broken ribs because he could "no longer state categorically that the rib fractures were not due to resuscitation".

With two of the prosecution's expert witnesses expressing serious misgivings, the defence sought to plant further doubts in the jury's minds.

Mrs Patel's grandmother was flown from a village in Gujarat to give evidence that, contrary to Sir Roy's stated view, sudden infant deaths could run in families. Surajben Patel told the court that she had lost five of her 12 children in early infancy. Their deaths remained a mystery, she said.

Her evidence sounded dramatic but none of the deaths had been investigated, and in the village where she lived there was no hospital, and no doctors.

However, a genetics expert, Michael Patton, told the court the evidence "strongly suggested" there was some genetic link to the deaths of babies in Mrs Patel's family.

The defence called an expert witness, Peter Fleming, who said he had seen three other examples of triple cot death in his 20-year career.

The prosecution did not put forward a motive for the alleged killings, but as the medical evidence grew cloudy the jury was invited to turn their minds to the emotional backdrop of the case - was Mrs Patel a mother who loved her children?

Helen Johnson, a community paediatric nurse who visited her after the death of Amar, thought her behaviour odd.

She seemed undemonstrative towards her second son, Jamie, and did not fret as much as the nurse expected. But her husband, Jayant, who stood by her just as the husbands of Sally Clark and Angela Cannings defended their accused wives, said that if she sometimes appeared cool in public, this was a veil for her grief.

"She is quite composed in public, quite professional in public, but with friends and family she is a very emotional person. She is a really nice mum, loving, caring, compassionate, always considering [the children] first," Mr Patel said.

"I cannot think she would do anything bad to them or harm them in any way."

Mothers in the dock

Sally Clark, 38 solicitor

She was convicted of the murders of her sons, Harry, eight weeks, and Christopher, 11 weeks, in November 1999 at Chester crown court after the jury heard there was a 73m to one chance of two cot deaths in an affluent, non-smoking family like the Clarks.

Ms Clark, from Wilmslow, Cheshire, was given two life sentences. Her first appeal in 2000 was rejected but it was recognised that the 73m to one statistic was flawed.

Her conviction was quashed by the court of appeal on January 29 this year after new evidence came to light.

Angela Cannings, 38 shop assistant

She was jailed for life in April 2002 for the murder of her sons, Jason, seven weeks, and Matthew, 18 weeks. Her first child, Gemma, died in 1989 but no charges were brought in relation to her death.

During the trial at Winchester crown court, Michael Mansfield QC, argued that the death of the two boys was a tragic coincidence but the jury disagreed.

Cannings, of Salisbury, Wiltshire, lodged an appeal in May last year.

Maxine Robinson, 34

In 1993 her two children, 18-month-old Christine and five-month-old Anthony were found dead in their beds on June 29 - the hottest evening of the year - in Ouston, near Chester-le-Street, Co Durham.

Forensic tests failed to show the cause of deaths but a pathologist at the inquest said they were consistent with suffocation.

An open verdict was recorded after her first child Vicki died at nine months.

She was found guilty of murder at Sheffield crown court in 1995 and was jailed for life.

She lodged an appeal in 1997 but it was dismissed.

 
 

'A loving mother who deserves our pity'

Trupti Patel's husband and friends never doubted she was innocent of murdering three of her children. Stewart Payne describes the family's tragic story

Telegraph.co.uk

June 12, 2003

She arrived at court each day, hand-in-hand with her husband, to take her place in the dock accused of killing three of her four children.

Medical opinion may have been divided over whether Trupti Patel had murdered her babies shortly after their births but her family and her friends have never doubted her innocence.

In the living room of her modern Georgian-style home in Maidenhead, Berks, there are dozens of cards from well-wishers. The court's public gallery was always packed with supporters, and her parents and in-laws attended most days or else took turns to look after her surviving daughter, to whom she has only had supervised access since her arrest.

Mrs Patel must have looked a vulnerable figure to the jury. A small woman, always neatly dressed in a trouser suit, she peered through heavy spectacles as the case against her unfolded at Reading Crown Court, Berks.

She seemed to have steeled herself for the ordeal, and onlookers remarked on her composure. But soon she gave way to her emotions, weeping as she listened to a recording of her 999 call when her baby Amar suddenly collapsed at home and again as she gave evidence in her defence.

Mrs Patel is 35, a professional woman who graduated with a pharmacy degree from King's College, London. She was born in Bolton, Lancs, of Punjabi parents, and despite a fairly humble upbringing was a high achiever, attending the local grammar school.

Her first job was as a pharmacist at Greenwich Hospital, south London, and it was during this time she met her husband, Jayant, a graduate in electronic engineering. They married in Bolton in 1991.

It was not an arranged marriage in the old-fashioned sense, she said, although approval was sought and given by both sets of parents. They lived with Jayant's parents in Ilford, east London, before moving to Maidenhead to be closer to his work in information technology.

Jayant's job took him abroad a lot and Mrs Patel found work in the dispensary at Churchill Hospital, Oxford, where she rose to be in charge of a department with 15 staff. In 1993 they decided to try for a child. "It was me that broached the subject, but Jayant was very keen and we discussed it together," said Patel at her trial.

Before starting their family they took a special holiday, travelling to Hong Kong, Bali and Malaysia. It was some time before Mrs Patel became pregnant, but she miscarried. "I could not believe it. We had been trying for a year. I was very upset," she said. However, it was not long before she was pregnant again and Mrs Patel gave birth to a daughter, the only child of the marriage to have survived.

Their second child, a son called Amar, was born in September 1997. "We were very happy. We thought our family was complete," she said. "Jayant was overjoyed" and their daughter "loved Amar to bits". But three months after his birth, when her husband was at work, she found Amar in a state of collapse in his bedroom.

She administered the cardiopulmonary resuscitation technique she had been taught while at Greenwich Hospital to no avail and he was pronounced dead in hospital. His death left a "big void" in their lives, but they coped with the support of their family and help from the Child Bereavement trust. No cause could be found for Amar's collapse and it was put to down to cot death.

Mrs Patel said it was not easy to consider having another child, but they decided to try. "We wanted two children," she said.

In 1999 she became pregnant again and Jamie was born in June that year. She said she was both happy and apprehensive, fearing she would lose him in the same way.

Mrs Patel received advice from the Care of the Next Infant scheme. But she said she was reluctant to use a baby monitor, saying it would just add to her anxiety.

At the age of 15 days, Jamie died. He had been asleep upstairs while Mrs Patel took a shower. Later her husband found him limp. He had stopped breathing. Again cot death was diagnosed.

"It was a very difficult period," said Mrs Patel. She had a lot of questions in her mind, but no answers. She and Jayant resolved to have another child and Mia was born in May 2001.

Because of the family history, great attention was paid to Mia before Mrs Patel was able to take her home. After a series of examinations at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford she was found to be a normal, healthy baby.

When Mia came home she did agree to use a baby monitor, but said she found it unreliable and was said in court to have used it incorrectly. On a Sunday morning, with Jayant away at a gym, Mrs Patel decided to have a nap. She awoke, she said, to find her mother lifting Mia from her crib. She looked "very drained" and had stopped breathing. She died in hospital at the age of three weeks.

"I could not believe this had happened to us again," said Mrs Patel. A post mortem examination revealed that Mia had four fractured ribs.

Mrs Patel had applied CPR in an attempt to resuscitate Mia. Asked by her defence barrister if she had applied force, Patel wept and said: "No. I was trying to save her life."

The hospital called in the police and an inquiry was launched. It was discovered that Mrs Patel had been alone with each child immediately before they had suffered apparent sudden collapses. It was determined that the rib injuries could not have been the result of CPR and Mrs Patel was arrested and later charged with the murders.

Throughout her trial Mrs Patel had maintained that each of her children had been wanted and loved. Her husband told the court that she was a "loving, caring and compassionate" mother.

Kieran Coonan, QC, her defence counsel, said that Patel was "a perfectly normal, although anxious woman" who had no motive to kill her children and had told "not a single lie" to the court.

Judge Mr Justice Jack, in his summing up, said that Mrs Patel deserved pity, whether or not she had killed her children. "It is a tragic story," he said.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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