Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Edinburgh mother in appeal over baby death conviction

A Edinburgh mother jailed for smothering her baby daughter almost 30 years ago has returned to court to try to overturn her conviction.

Jennifer Liehne claims a miscarriage of justice because the judge at her trial failed to explain complex medical and legal issues to the jury in the case.

Liehne is also contesting the verdict in the light of the Cadder ruling.

The Cadder judgement outlaws police questioning without giving the opportunity to call in a lawyer.

The Cadder ruling has led to a review of some aspects of Scotish criminal law.

The Supreme Court ruled in October that the Scottish system which allowed suspects to be held and questioned for six hours without access to a lawyer breached the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

In light of that ruling, 867 cases were abandoned, including 60 serious cases, nine of which were High Court cases.

'Turning blue'

Liehne, 47, from Edinburgh, stood trial for murder but was convicted of a reduced charge of culpable homicide.

A 10-year jail sentence imposed by trial judge Lord Hardie was later reduced to seven years on appeal.

Now the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates possible miscarriages of justice, has asked the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh to look again at whether the conviction should stand.

Liehne's trial in 2006 heard how baby Jacqueline was seven months old when she died in December 1982.

The baby had been admitted to hospital a number of times during the preceding months because her mother found her "turning blue".

A post-mortem examination then concluded baby Jacqueline was a cot death, explained by pneumonia.

But later investigations using more modern techniques caused some medics to question the original findings.

The hearing before Lord Hamilton, sitting with Lords Eassie and Brodie, is expected to last one week.

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