Teesside mum cleared of baby murder faced traumatic abuse

Teesside mum cleared of baby murder faced traumatic abuse

A woman cleared of murdering her baby son feared she would be jailed because nobody believed she “hadn’t done anything wrong”.

Shauna Donnelly, 25, was charged after taking Ellis to hospital in October 2019 where he was pronounced dead.

She was eventually acquitted at Teesside Crown Court on Wednesday after prosecutors offered no evidence.

However, the case saw her subjected to “traumatic” abusive threats, her solicitor said.

“I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong but nobody seemed to believe me,” Ms Donnelly, of Teesside, said in a statement released after the case was dropped.

“I honestly thought I was going to prison for the rest of my life.”

Ms Donnelly took her son’s lifeless body to the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough following a home birth.

A post-mortem examination proved inconclusive, but she was charged with her son’s murder.

The defence commissioned medical reports from five expert witnesses and it was agreed Ms Donnelly’s son was likely born in an extremely compromised state as a result of a hypoxic injury, believed to have been caused by a significant placental abruption.

They agreed that her son, if born alive, was extremely poorly and so unwell that she could have believed the child was stillborn.

In court on Wednesday, prosecutors accepted there was a lack of evidence Ms Donnelly had harmed her baby and that it was likely Ellis was stillborn after her placenta was damaged.

But Ms Donnelly had became the target of abuse, particularly online, including calls for her to be sterilised.

Her solicitor, Eric Watson, said: “On top of the traumatic experience of giving birth at home to a stillborn child, she suffered cruel comments from strangers.

“People who knew nothing of Shauna or the case were threatening to burn her house down, to assault her and to find her and harm her in a serious way.

“I would like to think they would reflect on the harm such bile can inflict.”

Ms Donnelly said she had to deal with the death of her son, a murder charge and the abuse of strangers.

“I couldn’t think about anything else,” she said. “Even now, I know the judge and the barristers know I didn’t do anything, people still shout things at me and people still talk about me.

“The total strangers who made comments on the newspaper articles threatening to do all sorts of awful things to me should listen to what the judge has said about me being innocent of this and not say such nasty things about people in the future.

“It felt awful, but now I’m finally able to move forward with my life.”

Mr Watson added: “She is slowly coming to terms with getting her life back to normal.

“There will be no champagne corks popping in the Donnelly household, there’s just relief.”

Leave a Reply