Lesley Dunford found guilty of daughter's manslaughter
A woman has been sentenced to seven years in prison for the manslaughter of her three-year-old daughter at their home in East Sussex.
Lesley Dunford, 33, now of Windermere Close in Exeter, Devon, had denied smothering her daughter Lucy at their former home in Camber.
Lucy died on 2 February 2004 at the Conquest Hospital in Hastings.
Lewes Crown Court heard the toddler's injuries suggested "she was held face down into a surface like a pillow".Airways forcibly blocked
Dunford was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter.
Judge Richard Brown had given the jury members the option of returning a verdict of manslaughter if they believed Dunford had killed her daughter but it could not be proved that she had intended to cause Lucy harm.
During the trial, the court heard that six months earlier Dunford's son Harley had died in his cot at the age of seven months.
The jury was told that Dunford had epilepsy, but had not been diagnosed with any psychiatric or autistic problems.
Three post-mortem examinations showed Lucy died from asphyxia caused by the forced blockage of her airways.
Judge Brown said Dunford went from "carer to killer" when she smothered Lucy.'Justice for Lucy'
Dunford had told the court Lucy died on the same day her husband, Wayne, 54, returned to work after 19 months of unemployment.
She said she had been nervous about being left at home to look after Lucy alone but denied being depressed about it.
The toddler was found with bruising under her skin around her shoulders and neck.
She also had a cut above her left eyebrow, which could have been caused by hitting a hard surface such as a bed headboard, the jury was told.
Det Ch Insp Nick Sloan from Sussex Police said: "This was tragic case for everybody.
"There was a thorough police investigation at the time but the forensic evidence then did not support a prosecution.
"However my team has carried out a very thorough analysis of all the evidence and we are very glad to see that justice has now been done for Lucy."
Simon Ringrose, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said the death of Harley had been fully investigated by police at the time and there were no plans to re-open the case.