Devon

Convicted Plymouth baby attacker previously cleared by judge

Elizabeth Wilkins Image copyright Devon Live
Image caption Elizabeth Wilkins was given a seven-year sentence in December and has not appealed

A woman found guilty of fracturing her baby's skull had previously been cleared by a senior judge in a family court, it has been revealed.

Lord Justice Baker has revealed details of his findings about former Plymouth law student Elizabeth Wilkins.

He previously found the baby's father had inflicted the injuries in a separate hearing and reached the same conclusion after analysing evidence from Wilkins' trial.

Lawyers believe the case is unique.

They think it is the first time two people have been accused of harming a child and one has been convicted of an offence by a jury while the other has been blamed by a judge hearing evidence in a family court.

The judge, who is based in the Court of Appeal in London, had analysed evidence after council social services bosses with responsibility for the boy's care asked him to make findings of fact on the balance of probabilities.

He has now released two rulings, made following private family court hearings, after considering arguments from lawyers and journalists about what the public should be told.

Timeline

  • September 2016 - baby injured when a few months old.
  • Late 2017 - Lord Justice Baker finds Mr Vanselow responsible for the injuries in family court.
  • December 2018 - Wilkins found guilty at criminal trial and sentenced to seven years.
  • June 2019 - Lord Justice Baker reconsiders findings in civil court but reaches same conclusion as he did in 2017.

Wilkins had gone on trial in 2018 with the baby's father, Erick Vanselow, who was acquitted after prosecutors withdraw a charge relating to the baby's head injury.

She was given a seven-year sentence at Plymouth Crown Court after jurors convicted her of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent.

But Lord Justice Baker had already reached a different conclusion.

Wilkins has not appealed against her conviction or sentence.

A barrister who represented her in the civil court proceedings told Lord Justice Baker that she had experienced difficulties raising funds to pay for lawyers who could mount an appeal on her behalf.

The judge had first made findings in late 2017 when based in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

He reconsidered them following the conclusion of the criminal trial, after Mr Vanselow asked for a review, but in June this year reached the same conclusions.

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