Police defend prosecuting York mum over death of her baby

POLICE today defended their investigation into the death of a baby after a single mother from York was cleared of killing her five-month-old son.

Gemma O'Donnell with her baby son Leighton. Picture: Ros Parry Agency

Gemma O’Donnell, 27, from York, was found not guilty of the manslaughter of her son Leighton O’Donnell by a jury at Leeds Crown Court yesterday at the end of a month-long trial.

Jurors heard how Leighton, who had serious health problems and was born prematurely, was taken to hospital on November 29, 2010.

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He did not respond to treatment and died on December 4 after the decision was made to switch off his life support.

Prosecutors claimed Ms O’Donnell was not coping with motherhood shook him in a fit of rage.

But she denied the charge and was acquitted.

Today, North Yorkshire Police said in a statement: “North Yorkshire Police takes any allegations of this nature extremely seriously and the death of Leighton O’Donnell has been investigated thoroughly and sensitively.

“Whilst appreciating that this area of the law and medical science is very complex and historically controversial, we felt it was imperative that this case was heard by an independent and impartial jury.

“We accept the not guilty verdict of the jury today and would like to thank the medical experts involved for their vital support and assistance in this case.”