On This Day 2007
Sally Clark 1965-2007:
Mistakes are a common occurrence every day for many people. These mistakes can be tiny, like putting the remote control in the fridge, and will have no real effect or impact on the individual making them, or they can be serious mistakes, like providing false testimony in a court case, and these will have a detrimental impact on all those involved. In the criminal justice system, any mistakes can have extreme consequences, and can cost an innocent person their freedom and in the past their lives. This is called a MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE.
Sally Clark was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life in prison for murdering her two sons, Christopher aged 11 weeks who died in December 1996 and Harry aged 8 weeks who died in January 1998. Sally was released after three years in prison after an expert witness, Professor Roy Meadow, was discredited. Meadow claimed in court that there is a one in 73 million chance of two cot deaths in a wealthy family, but the Royal Statistical Society said there was no basis for this claim. The truth was that both babies had died of natural causes. Following Sally’s release, other cases that relied on evidence from Meadow were re-examined, and another mother, Angela Cannings, also had her conviction for murder overturned.
Sally never recovered from the loss of her little boys and her wrongful imprisonment. Sadly, she became an alcoholic and died of a suspected heart attack thought to have been a result of her alcohol abuse in 2007.
Sally suffered the most severe effects of being wrongly convicted and sentenced of the murder of two of her children. We hold the people and organisations who accused and convicted her responsible for her untimely death. They convicted her on no evidence, but rather because they could not admit to their own ignorance of the cause of death of the two babies, and so blamed her instead.
Wrongful imprisonment affects wider society and the more this happens the more we begin to question the efficiency and reliability of our criminal justice system.
December 1996 Sally Clark’s son Christopher, aged 11 weeks, is found dead while her husband is out
January 1998 Her second son, Harry, dies, aged eight weeks
February 1998 Mrs. Clark is arrested
October 1999 Mrs. Clark’s trial begins at Chester Crown Court. Professor Roy Meadow appears as a witness, telling the jury there is a “one in 73 million” chance of two children dying from cot deaths in an affluent family
November 1999 Mrs. Clark is found guilty and given two life sentences
October 2000 First appeal fails
January 2003 Mrs. Clark’s conviction quashed by the court of appeal
Died: 15 March 2007 aged 42