Manchester

Mother jailed for smothering daughter with Piglet toy

Helen Caudwell
Image caption Helen Caudwell had denied murdering three-year-old Bethany

A mother from Greater Manchester has been jailed for life for smothering her three-year-old daughter with a Piglet cuddly toy.

Helen Caudwell, 42, had denied murdering Bethany at her home in Stockport on 2 October last year.

Judge Clement Goldstone QC ordered her to serve a minimum term of eight years at Manchester Crown Court.

During her trial, the jury heard she had lived a double life - telling two men they were Bethany's father.

Miles Kennerley and Mark Davies both believed Bethany was their daughter. Following her death, it was confirmed Mr Davies was the father.

Passing sentence, Judge Goldstone said: "Depressed you may have been but you were, as the jury found, responsible for your actions."

'Abnormality of mind'

He told her she had brought "indescribable pain and grief" to everyone who loved Bethany including both Mr Kennerley and Mr Davies, "one of whom was the object of your deceit, the other the subject of your deceit."

A colleague from Morrisons called Caudwell on 3 October when she did not arrive at work.

She told her: "I won't have a job anymore. I have done something stupid. I have suffocated Bethany."

Her colleagues rushed to the flat and found the little girl dead in bed, with her Piglet toy lying next to her.

Image caption Bethany Kennerley was found dead in Ms Caudwell's home on 3 October last year

It was later found to have her blood and saliva on it.

Caudwell, who also has three teenage children, had slashed her wrists and was taken to hospital. She was heard to say : "I couldn't let him take her."

She left a note saying she could not stand the thought of Mr Kennerley "making her life a misery like he did mine".

During the trial, she gave a defence of diminished responsibility, claiming she suffered an "abnormality of the mind" at the time of the killing.

Caudwell had fallen pregnant with Bethany in 2005 while married to her first husband Ian Caudwell and having an affair with both Mr Davies and Mr Kennerley.

She later married Mr Kennerley but was in the process of divorcing him when she killed Bethany.

In the months before Bethany's death, she became depressed about the state of her marriage and possibility of losing her.

She made comments about not wanting Mr Kennerley to have access to Bethany and that she wanted to "do away with herself."

In a statement released after Caudwell was sentenced, Mr Kennerley said: "I brought Bethany up as my daughter for three years and three months. She used to call me dad. She was my angel.

"As a result of what's happened to Bethany, my family and I have been emotionally crushed.

"Not only have I had to deal with the anguish of Bethany's death, but I have also had to come to terms with finding out that she was not biologically my daughter.

"This fact made absolutely no difference to my feelings for Bethany. However, this is a double blow from which my family will never recover."

Speaking outside court, Senior Investigating Officer in the case Andy Tattersall from Greater Manchester Police said it was a "sad and tragic case that has had terrible consequences to all those concerned."

He added: "We may never know for sure why Helen committed this most unnatural of crimes, but we know it has devastated a family and ended the life of a lovely little girl.

"Whilst Helen may have had concerns over the custody of her daughter, that should never lead to a mother murdering their own child to resolve the problem.

"Helen Caudwell will live with the consequences of her actions for the rest of her life."

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