'I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong' says mother cleared of murdering baby son in Middlesbrough

A mother who has been cleared of murdering her day-old son has said she knew she had done nothing wrong but that people did not believe her.

Shauna Donnelly who has been cleared of murdering her one-day-old son. (Pic: Watson Woodhouse solicitors)
Shauna Donnelly who has been cleared of murdering her one-day-old son. (Pic: Watson Woodhouse solicitors)

Shauna Donnelly, 24, from Middlesbrough, suffered horrific online abuse after she was charged with murdering her baby Ellis.

She had taken his lifeless body to the James Cook University Hospital on October 4 2019 and a police investigation followed, which resulted in her being charged with his murder.

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Ms Donnelly appeared briefly at Teesside Crown Court on Wednesday where the Crown said there was a lack of conclusive evidence to suggest she had harmed or assaulted the baby, and she was formally cleared of the charge.

In a statement afterwards, she said: “I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong but nobody seemed to believe me. I honestly thought I was going to prison for the rest of my life.

“I couldn’t think about anything else and 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 today about me being innocent of this and not say such nasty things about people in the future.

“It’s as if I won’t ever be able to get rid of the photo of me as ‘that one who killed her baby’. It felt awful but now I’m finally able to move forward with my life.”

Her solicitor Eric Watson, of the firm Watson Woodhouse, said: “Shauna Donnelly was the victim of the worst tragedy that could befall a new mother. Not only did she have to cope with the death of her child, she also had to deal with appalling online abuse from members of the public who knew nothing of her case.

“This case is relevant to every parent, to expectant couples, and potential new mums, this could have happened to any member of the public. Instead of celebrating a significant life moment in her adult life, she has spent the past year dealing with cruel allegations that she murdered her baby.

“It is hoped that today’s decision will draw a line under this, to permit Shauna the space to finally grieve and to allow her to move on with her life.”

The defence commissioned medical reports from five expert witnesses and it was agreed it was likely that her son was 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.

Her legal team said it was not possible to say whether prompt medical attention would have enabled the child to survive.

Richard Wright QC, prosecuting, said there was a lack of evidence to suggest an unlawful act caused the baby’s death.

Judge Stephen Ashurst said the Crown had taken “a responsible and appropriate course of action in light of the evidence”.

Mr Watson added: “This is a monumental judgment for Shauna and her family. The consequences were potentially devastating, and the experience hugely traumatic, they have been victims themselves through this process.”