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Mum jailed for killing her daughter, 3
A mother went from “carer to killer” by smothering her three-year-old daughter.
Lesley Dunford, 33, killed toddler Lucy after she was left to care for her. Yesterday she was jailed for seven years.
The incident happened just six months after the death of her seven-month-old son Harley, who was found dead in his cot.
However police say there is no evidence to justify any prosecution of the earlier death.
Jurors at Lewes Crown Court were told that she inflicted fatal injuries on Lucy.
Dunford was on her own at home with the toddler in Pelwood Road, Camber, near Rye, when the incident happened on February 2, 2004. Her husband had returned to work after a 19-month spell of unemployment and she told police she had been a “bit nervous”.
In her evidence, Dunford said she had put Lucy to bed at about 2pm after noticing she had a temperature and went downstairs to watch television.
She claimed that when she returned the toddler was face down in her pillow and was “motionless and rigid”.
But jurors rejected her account.
Dunford, who has since moved to Windermere Close, Exeter, was arrested two days after Lucy’s death but the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute her.
An inquest was held in February 2009 but the coroner adjourned the hearing for further examination of the case.
Five months later, Dunford was arrested on suspicion of murder.
A jury cleared her of that charge and instead found her guilty of manslaughter.
Jailing her, Judge Richard Brown, said: “It may well be that you are the only one who knows exactly what happened on that dreadful day in 2004 which took you from carer to killer.
“The fact remains that whatever did happen you did, in fact, kill your child and the courts have to protect little people like Lucy from being subjected to violence.”
Detective Chief Inspector Nick Sloan, of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, said: “This was tragic case for everybody and we are very glad to see that justice has now been done for Lucy.”