Mum who killed her girl (3) gets life in jail
Published 14/08/2010 | 05:00
A mother who smothered her three-year-old daughter with the child's soft toy was facing life in jail last night.
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.
Caudwell became pregnant with her fourth child, Bethany, during the course of her relationships with three men in 2005. 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.
She was found guilty, by a majority of 10 to two, following the nine-day trial and showed no emotion.
Caudwell's first husband, Ian, tried to get his vasectomy reversed to give his wife, of Cheadle Heath, Stockport, Greater Manchester, a fourth baby, but it was unsuccessful and she became 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 her as their own -- unbeknown to the other -- until the time of her death. Caudwell divorced her first husband, and father of her three other children, to marry Mr Kennerley in 2009, but within months, Caudwell filed for divorce.
In the days leading up to Bethany's murder last year, Caudwell became depressed at the possibility of losing custody of her young daughter.
Bethany was found dead last on October 2, smothered with a piglet soft toy, and Caudwell was taken to hospital with cuts to her wrists. She was heard to say: "I couldn't let him (Mr Kennerley) take her."
Passing sentence, Judge Clement Goldstone said: "Depressed you may have been but you were, as the jury found, responsible for your actions."
She had brought "indescribable pain and grief" to everyone who loved Bethany including Mr Kennerley and Mr Davies.
Caudwell was jailed for life and has to serve a minimum of eight years before parole.
A statement released by Mr Kennerley read: "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.
"Because of what happened to Bethany there will always be dates that will be difficult, and this will be the case for the rest of my life. We have to carry this burden for the rest of our days.
"Please rest in peace Boo."